It is Obvious

Chris Rick has got altogether too much to say

Negotiate (2)

Posted by chrisrick13 on December 9, 2010

It is obvious: negotiating is easy.

The BATNA is an acronym created by Fisher and Ury in 1981.  It stands for: Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement. Creating one is an essential part of your preparation for the negotiaton.  BATNA’s were done before Fisher and Ury, but they put a neat name on it and defined much of the thinking around it.  They did a great service for people not expert at negotiating.

Without a BATNA there will be a fear of failing to reach agreement without knowing what the consequences are.  You will be much more likely to agree to something that is not in your best interest which can simply be bettered by not negotiating at all.

At every stage during the negotiation you can compare where you are with your BATNA.  You can continue to negotiate until the current agreement is better than your BATNA.  You don’t have to think and you don’t have to worry about the consequences of not agreeing – you have something better.  This puts you in a very strong position.  You will genuinely be able to get up and walk away from a negotiation that is poor for you.

During the negotiation you should keep your BATNA secret or you will find yourself always arriving at your BATNA in any negotiation.  There is always a better deal out there and you want it.  By the same token you should try and find out the BATNA of the other side – it is an essential part of your preparation.

Of course, if your BATNA is something you absolutely must improve on then you are not as strong as you might be.  At least this will help you work out what you really want from the negotiation and the extra things you need to achieve.

Once you have reached the stage where the agreed items are better than your BATNA then you have to start thinking.  At this point you are invested in the negotiation and you do not want it to fail.  This weakens you and will change your perspective.  However you must not let the other side see any change in you or they will be well on the way to discovering your BATNA.

The BATNA: an essential tool for all negotiators.

It is obvious: negotiating is easy to do poorly.

Copyright © Chris Rick 2010

2 Responses to “Negotiate (2)”

  1. C o N said

    OK – I give up what exactly is a BATNA? How do you know what it is for a given situation and, more to the point, how is it derived? Is it really the Best Alternative or just the Best you can think of assuming that you are not going to negotiate?

    I can understand that you may not want your opposite number to know what your BATNA is -but- won’t it be as obvious to him/her as it is to you? Not the value you place on it maybe but the actual non-negotiated Best Position?

    Confused of Norfolk

    • Your BATNA is something you have to work out. Just assume that you are not going to negotiate, then think what you will do to get the best you can. There is no formula. You are at a car boot sale and see a mirror for £20. You can only afford £10. If you don’t negotiate and get the seller to reduce the price what will be the best outcome for you? Maybe you will wander the sale and see if there is something better to spend you £10 on. Maybe you will go home with just one bit less of stuff that you don’t need and buy a lottery ticket or two. Maybe you will come back near the end and see if he will take an offer then…but he may have sold it.

      The seller does not know why you want it. It might be for you, it might be a present, you might be a dealer who has seen a bargain, you might buy twenty more if you can get this one at a decent price. He does not know the best outcome for you. He can guess, but he does not know.

      The BATNA is all part of negotiate (3)…P’s in our time.

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