The phrase “best alternative to a negotiated agreement” or BATNA is a term used in negotiation theory to refer to the best course of action that a party can take if negotiations fail to produce a satisfactory outcome. Put simply, it is the point beyond which you are better off walking away from the negotiating table and pursuing other options.
BATNA was first introduced by Roger Fisher and William Ury in their seminal book “Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In.” According to these negotiation experts, understanding your BATNA is crucial to successful negotiation because it provides you with a clear benchmark for what you should aim to achieve. In other words, if you know what your best alternative is, you can negotiate with greater confidence and clarity.
So, what does a BATNA look like in practice? It could be anything from pursuing legal action, finding a new supplier or business partner, or simply accepting the status quo. The key point is that it should represent a realistic and attractive alternative to the current negotiating situation.
For example, let`s say you are negotiating a contract with a client. Your BATNA might be to offer your services to another client, or to pursue other business opportunities that do not involve the client in question. If you know that you have a viable alternative, you can negotiate from a position of strength, knowing that you are not beholden to the other party.
Understanding your BATNA also helps you to evaluate the strength of any offer that is presented to you. If the offer is worse than your BATNA, then you know that you should walk away. If it is better than your BATNA, then you can consider it seriously.
It is important to note that your BATNA is not something that is fixed in stone. It can change depending on circumstances, such as changes in the market or the availability of alternative options. Therefore, it is important to keep your BATNA in mind throughout the negotiation process and be willing to adjust it if necessary.
In conclusion, understanding your best alternative to a negotiated agreement is a crucial element of successful negotiation. By knowing your BATNA, you can negotiate with greater confidence, clarity, and leverage. It provides you with a benchmark for what you should aim to achieve, as well as a clear indication of when it is time to walk away from the negotiating table. Whether you are negotiating a contract or a business deal, taking the time to evaluate your BATNA can improve your chances of success.