What is BATNA Negotiation?


BATNA stands for “Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement.” In other words, it is the best you can do if the other person refuses to negotiate with you – that is if they figuratively or literally tell you to “Get Lost!” Obviously, this is not your ideal outcome. Unless your ideal outcome is something you can get without the cooperation of the other person. Therefore, your BATNA is the best you can do without them.


Why you must always increase your BATNA

BATNAs are critical to negotiation and even to life in general because you cannot make wise life choices without knowing what your alternatives are.

Your BATNA is the floorboard or the base line below which you are not willing to fall. Therefore, any agreement you make will only raise the base line and take you higher. Aiming to increase your BATNA also encourages you to make decisions that are in your interest or accept an offer even if it’s something you may not have considered before.

Increasing your BATNA improves your negotiating power and ensures that you cannot lose, even if the terms of your agreement do not meet your expectations you always have an alternative. However, if your alternative options are slim or non-existent, the other side can make increasing demands, and you’ll likely decide to accept them – because you don’t have another choice.


How to continually increase your BATNA

The reason people negotiate and work together is to produce something better than you can produce on your own. BATNA is the key to make sure that you don’t settle for less than what you deserve.

Here are three ways you can go about increasing your BATNA:

  1. In a negotiating situation write down all your possible alternatives you would take if the agreement falls through. – This is an important step because without alternatives you don’t have a BATNA.
  2. Actively seek out better alternatives and improve the alternatives you already have.
  3. Know your counterparts BATNA and negotiate accordingly

BATNAs may be determined for any negotiation situation, whether it be a relatively simple task such as finding a job or a complex problem such as a protracted ethnic conflict. Constantly increasing your BATNA will improve your life and put you in a stronger position.