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.

Edward Snowden Tries to Negotiate Around His Bad BATNA

Katie Shonk   •  11/23/2015   •  Filed in BATNA

Can a bad BATNA prevent Edward Snowden from engaging in win-win negotiations with the US government? In this article we examine a negotiation case study involving one of the world’s most prominent advocates for government transparency and his attempts at bridging the gap between himself and the US government. … Read More 

BATNA Negotiation and Integrative Negotiation Strategies Helped the European Union Manage a Difficult Negotiator Like Putin

Katie Shonk   •  09/28/2015   •  Filed in BATNA

In negotiation, we are often confronted with the task of dealing with difficult people—those who seem to prefer to set up roadblocks rather than break down walls, or who choose to take hardline stances rather than seeking common ground.

How can you deal with such difficult people?

One tactic you might consider is avoiding the conversation altogether … Read More 

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