Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA) Explained

"BATNA is a term coined by Roger Fisher and William Ury in their 1981 bestseller, Getting to Yes: Negotiating Without Giving In.

It stands for "best alternative to a negotiated agreement." BATNAs are critical to negotiation because you cannot make a wise decision about whether to accept a negotiated agreement unless you know what your alternatives are. Your BATNA "is the only standard which can protect you both from accepting terms that are too unfavorable and from rejecting terms it would be in your interest to accept."

In the simplest terms, if the proposed agreement is better than your BATNA, then you should accept it. If the agreement is not better than your BATNA, then you should reopen negotiations. If you cannot improve the agreement, then you should at least consider withdrawing from the negotiations and pursuing your alternative (though the costs of doing that must be considered as well)...

BATNAs are not always readily apparent. Fisher and Ury outline a simple process for determining your BATNA:

1. develop a list of actions you might conceivably take if no agreement is reached;
2. improve some of the more promising ideas and convert them into practical options; and
3. select, tentatively, the one option that seems best.[4]

BATNAs may be determined for any negotiation situation, whether it be a relatively simple task such as finding a job or a complex problem such as a heated environmental conflict or a protracted ethnic conflict."

Read more in this article from beyondintractability.com.