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AN IMPORTANT LESSON IN NEGOTIATION

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THE BEST CARD IN THE DECK IS AN ABSOLUTE COMMITMENT TO BEING COMPLETELY UNREASONABLE

“THIS WHITE BOY’S CRAZY”

It’s buyout season. Even if a coach is fleeing a program with scorch marks on their pants and a three-win season behind them, there is always something more to take on the way out the door. If security is escorting them out of the building, hit the bowl of leftover Halloween candy on the way out the door. Take some stationery. Negotiate some benefit extensions and insist on the full buyout.

Make something happen, and ask even if it doesn’t make sense. Why? Because everyone has to remember the most important two elements in any negotiation:

  1. Everyone hates conflict, and wants to get it over with as quickly as possible
  2. Having evidence and arguments is one thing, but the most important tool in any argument remains having an irrational, possibly insane commitment to your goals in the face of all threat and reason.

Enter the case study: East Tulsa’s own Mark Robinson.

Was he outnumbered as the lone clerk at a Kum-and-Go* during a 4 a.m. robbery? Yes, though he takes pains to note that if it was a one on one situation he was going to “I was gonna get the gun away from him and rock him in the jaw”, but reconsidered when a second gunman showed up. The calculus here should not go unnoticed: Mark Robinson believes one “Mark Robinson” equals a greater force than “random dude with an actual firearm.” Confidence, even if completely deranged, is clearly important in a tactical arbitration like this.

Did he have a single negotiating chip? Not one, reader, save the option of forcing two men to commit murder or attempted murder on top of the inevitable armed robbery and grand theft auto charges.

Did this stop him from negotiating? HELL NO. A dealmaker never stops dealing. With two guns in his face and alone, Mark Robinson remembered that they needed his help to start the car they were going to flee the scene with, because

There’s a breathalyzer in my car, and you have to like blow into it and hum, and they probably don’t know how to do that

Magnificent calm in the middle of a storm. Robinson also pressed his advantage despite having none in getting the thieves to throw his phone into a field rather than taking it, because “I ain’t call nobody till you leave, THASS MY PHONE.” There’s a shoulder shrug with this that counts as a full paragraph by itself, meaning something equivalent to

“Gentlemen: Having taken so much from me already, violating my sense of safety, peace, and faith in the public order, while also interrupting my otherwise uneventful 4 a.m. shift at the Kum-and-Go

—yes, please laugh, we could use one at this moment, go ahead before I continue—having done all that while stealing from my employer and placing me in real danger for a paltry sum and requesting my help to start my car in order to steal it? The least you two could do would be to allow me to have my phone, the last lifeline I will have to society and assistance when you depart. Recognize my frustration! See that what I ask you, after all this, is a pittance of what one might consider fair recompense for this experience on my part.”

They did exactly what he said, by the way, and threw his phone into a field where he recovered it. Because he asked, but the asking wasn’t through.

LEAVE THE CAR, KEEP THE LEBRONS

HE GOT TO KEEP THE SHOES. Mark Robinson is incredible, and a model for what successful negotiation should be. He sat down at the table with nothing, and got up with something. Get his man a sports agent’s license and a new suit immediately, because This White Boy’s Crazy Ltd. is about to successfully represent every athlete out of Green Country for the next 30 years.