What Does BATNA Mean?

There are no guarantees when it comes to negotiations. Without a BATNA, you will most likely be faced with one of two outcomes: Win or lose. If you take your time to identify a BATNA before starting a negotiation however, walking out on that negotiation will not imply losing out completely: you will still be able to fall back on your BATNA. BATNA is the acronym for “Best Alternative To A Negotiated Agreement” and is particularly important in ensuring that you do not concede unnecessarily to the other party. It prevents negotiators from accepting an outcome that will not be beneficial to them on the long run especially when faced with the pressure to reach an agreement.

The interesting thing about BATNA is that it can be applied to almost any situation. You may be trying to decide whether or not to take a job offer or resolving stakeholder conflict. Take your time to identify a BATNA before going into that negotiation.

Here’s how to identify a BATNA:

  1. Identify all the possible alternatives you can take if the desired negotiation outcome is not achieved.
  2. Refine your options to ensure you come away with a practical approach for achieving each of them.
  3. Select the best alternative.

Your BATNA is the insurance policy you can cash in on if you decide to walk away from a negotiation. To take this concept to the next level, identify and understand your opponents' alternatives and their BATNA as much as possible. This way, you will understand their bargaining power and be able to use it to your advantage.