My BATNA Isn’t Good. Is Theirs?

WRITTEN July 26, 2018 Author: John Epstein

Negotiators often fail to consider their Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA) and the other side’s BATNA.

Thinking through both BATNAs helps us determine how much leverage we have in a negotiation.

What will happen if we can’t come to an agreement with the other party?

If the alternative to a negotiated agreement is not good, you may feel that you have little leverage. And you may be completely wrong.

What will the other party do when they cannot reach an agreement with you? If their alternative is not good either, the leverage balances out to some extent.

For example, picture a job seeker who has been out of work for a while.Bills are piling up, unemployment benefits are running out and s/he has had no job offers. Finding a promising job, this person may feel that they have little or no leverage in a salary negotiation.

On the other side, you have an employer with a position that has been open for months. Deadlines are slipping, customers are angry, and people are working overtime. A job seeker comes along and has the right credentials for the job. The employer may feel that they have little leverage if the job seeker demands a higher salary.

Change the scenarios and the relative leverage changes.

Consider both sides’ BATNAs and you will be better prepared to negotiate.


Learn how to develop your negotiation skills and know your BATNA. The Improving Communications Negotiating Skills ► Into Action class covers topics necessary to hone those skills and get the results that you want and need from your next negotiation.

Photo Courtesy of U.S. Department of Agriculture


This information is discussed in our Negotiating Skills ► Into Action curriculum. If you’re looking for ways to improve your communication skills, register for one of our public classes.


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