best alternative to a negotiated agreement
What is your Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement?
Your best alternative to a negotiated agreement, or BATNA, describes a your best possible outcome if the current negotiations fail.
In negotiation, your best source of power is typically your best alternative to a negotiated agreement, or BATNA. Having a strong outside alternative enables you to walk away from a deal that doesn’t meet your needs or that would compromise your vision or ethics.
According to basic negotiation theory, your BATNA should be the benchmark by which you can compare the offer at the bargaining table with the best you could get if you walked away. If negotiation would give you more, then that’s all upside. If not, there’s no reason to agree.
It’s a twist on the old “bird in the hand” adage. If you’ve already got a golden goose, your negotiating partner has to offer even better terms to get you to say yes. But if all you’re holding is a dead duck, you may have to take whatever your counterpart offers you.
Wise negotiators understand the value of thinking through their best alternative to a negotiated agreement prior to any significant negotiation. Analyzing what you will do if the current negotiation or conflict-resolution effort fails will help you determine how much you need the other party and may also motivate you to enhance your alternatives away from the table.
Yet negotiators often neglect an equally important step: analyzing the other party’s best alternative to a negotiated agreement. Although finding out what alternatives the other party has can take some detective work, it can be well worth the effort. If you find out that your counterpart has few options, that knowledge can empower you to stand by your demands.
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.
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