A Battle is Won Before it Takes Place

Apr 21, 2020

Here's a very useful concept I have learned in my corporate life that applies to many instances of our personal life: BATNA - Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement. It states that in order to have a strong point when you negotiate something, you have to have a strong alternative in case the deal fails. The stronger the alternative you have, the stronger your negotiating position will be and the more you will get from a deal.

So instead of focusing on the deal at hand, on getting the promotion, the job or the opportunity, focus on your alternatives. What happens if you don’t get it? What’s your best option?


Work on strengthening this. If you want to ask for a pay rise, don’t waste your time preparing all the reasons why you deserve it and how much it means to you. This is important, but not as important as your BATNA. Focus instead on knowing your market value, talking to head-hunters, having a few options lined up regarding what you will do if you don’t get that pay rise. Feel strongly about your alternatives; feel happy about them. Then use this BATNA on the negotiation table. If your BATNA is strong there is nothing else you need to do. Your BATNA will win the battle for you.


Think about the “What if this does not happen?” question and work to strengthen and be happy with your alternatives. Not only will it help you be content with your life but it will increase your power enormously.


And so, the deal is decided before the discussions even happen. The person with the strongest BATNA wins. He or she does not win during the negotiation. They already won beforehand when they found an equally good alternative.


This concept does not apply to negotiations only. It’s a universal principle for life. In order for something to come to you naturally, you must be happy with how your life will be if it does not come. Construct your BATNA and be happy with it.

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