BATNA

In negotiation, BATNA refers to your “best alternative to a negotiated agreement,” or the best outcome you can expect if you fail to reach agreement at the bargaining table with your counterpart. An evaluation of your BATNA is critical if you are to establish the threshold at which you will reject an offer. Effective negotiators determine their BATNAs before talks begin.

When you fail to determine your alternative, you’re liable to make a costly mistake—rejecting a deal you should have accepted or accepting one you’d have been wise to reject. In negotiation, it’s important to have high aspirations and to fight hard for a good outcome. But it’s just as critical to establish a walkaway point that is firmly grounded in reality.

There are four steps to assessing your BATNA: List your alternatives; evaluate these alternatives; establish your BATNA based on these alternatives; and calculate your reservation value, which is the lowest-valued deal you are willing to accept. If the value of the deal proposed to you is lower than your reservation value, you’ll be better off rejecting the offer and pursuing your BATNA. If the final offer is higher than your reservation value, you should accept it.

One drawback to exploring your best alternative is in spending too much time and money in researching it. This can lead to a feeling of entitlement in negotiation, which may cause the negotiator to expect too much from the bargaining process.

Articles offer numerous BATNA examples and explore the concept of one’s BATNA, as well as how to effectively identify your BATNA in negotiations and how to use this knowledge effectively in any type of negotiation, whether in business, international, or personal negotiations.


Discover how to unleash your power at the bargaining table in this free special report, BATNA Basics: Boost Your Power at the Bargaining Table, from Harvard Law School.


BATNA and Optimal Outcomes in Negotiations

PON Staff   •  09/29/2016   •  Filed in BATNA

A negotiator’s BATNA, negotiating with the knowledge of her best away-from-the-negotiation-table options, is essential information that every effective bargainer seeks to learn about herself, and her counterpart, prior to engaging in negotiations. … Read More 

Making the Most of an Unappealing BATNA

Katie Shonk   •  09/26/2016   •  Filed in BATNA

In business negotiations, we tend to assume that it’s the more financially successful party that has an edge. But if that party has a weak BATNA, or best alternative to a negotiated agreement, it could be the seemingly weaker party that comes out on top. … Read More 

10 Hard Bargaining Negotiating Skills and Negotiation Strategies

Keith Lutz   •  08/30/2016   •  Filed in BATNA

Negotiating skills for dealing with situations as they arise at the bargaining table are always in high demand. Strategies prepared before coming to the bargaining table are one way to anticipate events during negotiations, but expert negotiators know that the bargaining style of their counterpart will impact, positively or negatively, even the best laid plans. … Read More 

Star Wars Stories: George Lucas and a Strong BATNA, Passed Over

Katie Shonk   •  08/16/2016   •  Filed in BATNA

In negotiation, your best source of power is typically your best alternative to a negotiated agreement, or BATNA. When you are aware that you have an appealing alternative deal to the one you’re working on, you will be less tempted to accept an agreement that doesn’t meet your minimum requirements. A strong BATNA gives you … Read More 

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