How many times have you walked out of a situation and said ” I did not get ANY of the things that I wanted!” If this has happened, you walked in without knowing your BATNA.
BATNA stands for Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement. It’s your backup plan; your plan B. Quite simply, when you walk into a negotiation environment, you need to have your BATNA: (1) researched, (2) mentally available and (3) prepared to offer. BATNA helps you to determine when to walk away from a situation; without losing your shirt (or your pride) in the process. Applying BATNA reminds me of the lyrics from that hit by Kenny Rogers called “The Gambler“. It goes like this:
What are you willing to settled for IF the situation is not meeting your requirements?
- If your boss does not agree with your initial request for a pay raise, what amount are you willing to settle for?
- If the team doesn’t like your initial suggestion, what can you offer in its place?
- If the husband, wife, partner or teenager doesn’t like the olive branch that you offer, what are you prepared to offer it it’s place? What can you live with?
What will leave you feeling okay with the compromise that needs to be made going forward?
That’s your plan B or BATNA.
As stated in the Harvard reference book below “Always know your BATNA before entering into any negotiation. Otherwise, you don’t know whether a deal makes sense or when to walk away”
So how do you know what your BATNA (or Plan B) is? Do your situational homework and ask yourself the questions below;
- If I can’t get what I want (preferred course of action), what am I willing to accept?
- Is what I’m willing to accept within ZOPA (Zone Of Possible Agreement)? This is where you need to have some idea as to what is acceptable to the other party. After all, what good is a BATNA if it’s not doable between the parties involved? This means it’s not on the table at all.
Here’s another good reason for knowing your BATNA. It’s the point at which you would say no to a proposal. That’s assuming you want to be fair to yourself (as it relates to the situation of course).
Granted, this conversation FEELS like one geared for sales. In actuality, it is a standard technique for any negotiation scenario (sales, union negotiations, consultative price haggling, family compromises, etc). Knowing what you can live with before you enter the negotiation arena is priceless.
2 reference points are below.
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BATNA = (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement)
“In negotiation theory, the best alternative to a negotiated agreement or BATNA is the course of action that will be taken by a party if the current negotiations fail and an agreement cannot be reached. (Wikipedia)“
Harvard Business Essentials