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Two business people shaking hands The term BATNA was first coined in 1981 by negotiation researchers Roger Fisher and William Ury in their publication ‘Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In’. BATNA stands for Best Alternative To Negotiation Agreement, which basically refers to what an organisation can hope to fall back on if their negotiation process fails. Of course, this is an essential part of business as in the real world things don’t always go your own way – so having a contingency plan is necessary to protect your assets and ensure you can still make the best of a less than satisfactory situation.

But how do you put together a BATNA?

According to Mr Fisher and Mr Ury, companies can take a three-step approach to determine what action should be taken. This is:
  • Produce a list of possible actions that can be taken if negotiation fails
  • Develop the most feasible ideas into practical options
  • Select the option that presents itself as the best
Once this has been completed, you should consider how to action the points you have drawn up to ensure the outcome does not impact negatively on your operations if the worst comes to the worst. BATNA can be applied to a range of scenarios on numerous levels, from attempting to negotiate a pay rise to managing business mergers and other complicated conflicts. Having a BATNA will also enable you to judge what your minimum terms should be when in the negotiation process. If the terms you are offered are less favourable than the outcome of your BATNA, then logic dictates that you should reject those terms. This contingency plan naturally strengthens your negotiating power, as you are not going into discussions with the absolute need to take whatever deal is on the table regardless of how poor it is. The concept is discussed in more detail throughout some of our corporate training courses, so why not book your place on one today to learn more?



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