Be it something simple like buying vegetables or finalizing a business deal, we all have tried our negotiation skills at least once.

What do you think of your skills? Have you been in a situation where negotiation fails? In a situation where you don’t get what you exactly want, do you try to find the best alternative?

If yes, then you have already used BATNA. You may just not be aware of it.

The Meaning And Definition Of BATNA

BATNA or Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement means the most advantageous route that a party may take if it doesn’t get its desired result in a negotiation.

What does that mean? Well, let’s simplify BATNA’s meaning. A party’s BATNA is an alternative that they can take if the negotiations fail. Where did the term come from? The concept of BATNA was developed by negotiation experts Roger Fisher and William Ury in their best-selling book titled Getting To Yes: Negotiating An Agreement Without Giving In in 1981.

What Is The Classic BATNA Definition?

BATNA means identifying the next best alternative if you don’t get your desired outcome in a negotiation. Does it mean showing your negotiation skills or coming up with a negotiation strategy? It’s a bit of both. The key is for the negotiator to not accept an agreement that is worse than the BATNA.

How Would You Determine Your BATNA?

Fisher and Ury wrote about the simple steps to arrive at the BATNA:

  • Create a list of actions you might take if you and the negotiator can’t agree on terms

  • With the help of the list, improve and convert the more promising ideas into practical options

  • Select the one option that looks best to you

So, are there certain situations for which you can’t determine BATNAs? No, you can develop a BATNA for almost any negotiation situation.

Be it something as personal as looking for your next job or a multilateral environmental policy negotiation, you will find BATNA examples everywhere.

Understanding BATNA With Everyday Examples

A community living near a water resource discovered that the water is being polluted by factory discharges. Community leaders went to meet the factory owner. They tried to negotiate a clean-up plan, but the company refused to agree on a plan of action.

Now that the negotiation has failed, the community weighs its options:

  • The community could sue the company

  • The community could approach the local pollution control board

  • The community could lobby the state legislature to implement stringent regulations on such polluting factories

  • Through public education campaigns, the community could inform citizens of the problem

This could have a broader impact on civil society and lead voters to support candidates who are committed to a green agenda.

How will the community determine the best alternative? Well, the community leaders must ask these questions to determine their BATNA:

  • Which option is the most affordable and feasible?

  • Which alternative will have the most impact?

  • What if the plant is closed down or moved as a result of community-led action? How many people will lose jobs?

Answering such questions leads you towards finding out what BATNA means to you in a certain situation.

Learn The ABC Of BATNA

You must have gotten a fair idea of the BATNA definition and the BATNA meaning. Still confused about how to find your BATNA? The BATNA Framework can aid you there.

You can learn about the BATNA Framework and other negotiation techniques through Harappa Education’s Negotiating Wisely course. So don’t waste any more time and join the course now!


Explore topics & skills such as Negotiation Skills & Persuasion Skills from our Harappa Diaries section and learn how to persuade someone.

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