Negotiators say that BATNA, is a key to achieve the best result for you in a negotiation. I try to develop and explain this concept in my book "how to negotiate effectively". Obviously, I learnt it of the great negotiation masters as W. Ury, H. Cohen, R. Fischer, between others.
First It's important to define what is "negotiation" and then to explain the term BATNA.
Ok, let's do it!
Herb Cohen is the author of one of the classics book of negotiation: Everything is negotiable.
Cohen's great contribution has been to introduce the idea that negotiation should be seen as a mechanism of game, or a game of intelligence to be mastered and enjoy while you learn to win without forcing others without that we care too.
Cohen says that negotiation is a field of knowledge and action whose aim is to win the consent or the favor of the people whom you want to get some things. It involves the use of information and power to affect behaviors of others within a "whirlpool of tensions." From this perspective, you realize that actually negotiate all the time both at work and in private life.
He says that in all negotiations are always present three elements: information, time and power
Information is the other part seems to know more about you and your needs than you know about them and their needs. Time is the other party does not seem to know the type of structural pressures, time constraints and restrictive terms to which you are subjected and finally, he says that power is the other side always seems to have more power and authority than you think to have.
Now, we are in condition to define BATNA, and we'll use a definition of Ury master. He says:
"The reason you negotiate is to produce something better than the results you can obtain without negotiating. What are those results? What is that alternative? What is your BATNA -- your Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement? That is the standard against which any proposed agreement should be measured." -- Roger Fisher and William Ury
BATNA is the best you can do if the other person (your opponent) refuses to negotiate. It’s the alternative that you have when your opponent don’t want to cooperating to achieve a fair treatment. It’s the best you can do without them.
If you are offered a used truck for $9,999, but there's an even better one at another dealer for $8,950--the $8,950 truck is your BATNA. If the seller doesn't drop her price below $8,950, you will WALK AWAY and buy the other truck.
BATNA is the only standard which can protect their interests from accepting unfavorable terms for you.
How can use it?
We'll consider these options:
A) If the proposed agreement is better than your BATNA, then you should accept it.
B) If the agreement is not better than your BATNA, then you should reopen negotiations.
C) If you cannot improve the agreement, then you should at least consider withdrawing from the negotiations and pursuing your alternative (though the relational costs of doing that must be considered as well).
A) Having a good BATNA increases your negotiating power.
B) It is important to improve your BATNA whenever possible.
C) If you have a strong one, it is worth revealing it to your opponent.
D) If you have a weak one, however, it is better to keep that detail hidden.
E) it’s very important to know the BATNA of your opponent.
Finally, I want to remark the word "power" through an example.
Power is the capacity or ability to get things done, to exercise control over people, events, situations and oneself. However, all power is based on perception (H. Cohen). If you think you have it, then it really does. If you think you do not, then you do not have it at all. Power is neither good nor bad. It is not moral or immoral. It is not ethical or unethical, is neutral. It is a means, not an end. Firmly believe you have power and you will make others perceive an image of self-confidence.
I'll copy for you an old story and I wish you can identify in it, these two elements, "BATNA and POWER", because I think is the best way to explain them. Please, note how the power changes from one character to another only through a simple idea!
Please, pay attention and good luck!
“THE KING AND THE MAGICIAN”
…During the reign of a certain king there lived a famous magician. One day this magician had the misfortune to foretell the death of a certain man who was a favorite of the king; it happened that the man died on the day foretold. The king was very angry when he heard that his friend had died. He said it was the magician’s fault, and sent for him.
When the magician came in the king said, “You were able to foretell the death of my friend. Can you foretell the date of your own death?”
When the poor man heard this he was very frightened. He thought that the king meant to have him killed. For a few moments he did not answer. He was wondering what he could say to save himself. Then he had an idea.
“Your Majesty,” he said bowing, “I cannot foretell the exact date of my death, but I can foretell that I shall die one day before your Majesty”
When the king heard this it was his turn to be afraid. He said that the best doctors must look after the magician, that the strongest soldiers must protect him, and that everything must be done to make him live as long as possible!
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Lic. Claudio M. Pizzi