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  • Guy Johnson

How to dramatically increase your bargaining power… build a BATNA

In business and personal negotiations, it’s easy to fall into the trap of over estimating the power of the other party.

When focussing on our problem, or the consequences for us of an unsuccessful negotiation, it can feel like the other party is holding all the cards, particularly if they have greater economic might.

In negotiation, there are two types of power: real power and perceived power. There are all sorts of things we can do to influence the perceived balance of power in our favour, however, maximising our real power first is a sensible place to start.

The level of dependency that each party has on the other is at the heart of this power see-saw. If you are beholden to this deal with this party, and have no other options available to you, your power is likely to be severely diminished.

Say for example you were negotiating for a new role with a new employer. Consider how your power would change if you had a comparable offer in hand from another party when entering negotiations.

Meet the BATNA… or best alternative to a negotiated agreement. Quite simply it means the alternative viable options available to us if we cannot agree satisfactory terms with the party with whom we are negotiating.

It’s tempting to jump straight into negotiations, but taking the time to identify or develop your BATNA(s) can dramatically boost your power… both real and perceived.

So, consider:

· What are my best alternatives if I cannot reach a satisfactory agreement with this party?

· If I don’t have alternatives, what steps do I need to take to develop my BATNAs ahead of negotiating?

· At what level would I be better off pursuing my BATNA?

· How and when would it be optimal to communicate my BATNA to the other party to boost my perceived level of power?

· Have I correctly identified and verified what the other party’s BATNAs are?

· Do I understand clearly the terms under which they would look to pursue their BATNA?

· How can I maximise the deal without causing them to pursue alternative options?

So next time you are bargaining, take time to build your BATNAs before you begin and feel your real and perceived power grow.

If you want to find out more about negotiation, get in touch with BreakPoint Black

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