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Negotiations: the Batna

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BATNA - Best Alternative

Having available options during a negotiation is a good alternative which empowers you with the confidence to either reach a mutually satisfactory agreement, or walk away to a better alternative.

"Don't put all your eggs in one basket." It's an old saying which has stood the test of time. Some of you urbanites, sitting in your cubicles, may be scratching your heads and wondering, 'What in the name of Hades does this mean?' Meanwhile, back out there in the countryside, a ruddy faced farmer, is likely rolling his eyes and patiently explaining, that should you trip on the way back to the kitchen, eggs are no longer on the breakfast menu.
To a negotiator, this wise old proverb illustrates that if you bring only a single proposal to the table, you may likely end up with a rotten deal, or no deal at all. You need to have an alternative plan waiting in the wings.
It should be fairly obvious that not every negotiation is going to get tucked away in a nice, neat settlement package. This is where BATNA comes to the rescue for those of you sensible enough, to have heeded the sage advice of that old farmer who coined the above proverb many ages ago.
BATNA means 'Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement'. This is your alternate plan when the talks start to wobble out of control. It can also be your trump card to make the deal happen to your advantage, or walk away from it altogether.
Let's illustrate BATNA by using a simple example. In the first scenario, let's say that you are a buyer who goes to a supplier to purchase some badly needed parts to complete a project. The supplier senses your urgency; his eyes begin to gleam with anticipation. You want the lowest price possible while he wants the higher price. Oh! Oh! You have no fallback position. You're both in the boat, but it's the supplier who's holding the oars, so guess who decides…...

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