Preparing for a Negotiation: BATNA or Bottom Line?

Negotiating and Bargaining
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Best Practices
Chloe Xu
Director, Australia

Preparing for a Negotiation: BATNA or Bottom Line?

It is important to prepare yourself for any negotiation, including the minimum you are willing to accept. In my post on BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement) I explained this concept and argued it is critical for negotiators as they cannot make a wise decision about whether to accept or reject an offer unless they are clear about what their best alternative is.

I also mentioned that in the process of developing a BATNA, reservation value (aka bottom line) needs to be considered. As BATNA is evaluated based on bottom line, are BATNA and Bottom Line in fact the same thing?

A Bottom Line is the least price you will accept as a seller, or the most you will pay as a buyer. The bottom line is meant to act as the final barrier where a negotiation will not proceed further. It is a means to defend oneself against the pressure and temptation that is often exerted on a negotiator to conclude an agreement that is self-defeating. Although bottom lines definitely serve a purpose, they also regrettably foster inflexibility, stifle creativity and innovation, and lessen the incentive to seek tailor-made solutions that resolve differences.

In contrast to a bottom line, a BATNA does not concern itself with the details of any particular negotiation, but rather determines the course of action if an agreement is not reached within a certain time frame. As a gauge against which an agreement is measured, it prohibits negotiators from accepting an unfavourable agreement or one that is not in their best interests because it provides a better option outside the negotiation.

Since BATNA is the alternative to what a negotiated agreement would offer, it permits far greater flexibility and allows much more room for innovation than a predetermined bottom line. When a negotiator has a strong BATNA, (s)he also has more power because he possesses an attractive alternative that he could resort to if an acceptable agreement is not achieved.

⇒ Any further tips for BATNA? What other tools do you recommend to prepare a negotiation?

Source: Chern, C. 2014, The Commercial Mediator's Handbook, CRC Press.


Management Consultant, United States

Preparing for Negotiations

BATNA is a good approach to use, since it allows a party to walk away if there is not enough "common... Sign up

Colin Goodluck
Student (University), Guyana

BATNA & Bottom Line

BATNA & Bottom Line have both worked for me at one negotiating table dealing with the same customer.... Sign up

Josephat Olwal Ngesah

BATNA or Bottom Line

Personally, I think what matters is if the agreement is meeting my or my company's interests. Howev... Sign up

Paul A Ford
Project Manager, United States

BATNA versus Bottom Line

This subject was part of my Communications for Project Managers graduate class. I learned that there... Sign up

Colin Goodluck
Student (University), Guyana

Leaving Money on the Table is Sometimes Necessary

@Paul A Ford: I feel that leaving money on the table is sometimes necessary, because the opportunity... Sign up

Carlos Espinosa Fernandez, Mexico

Batna versus Bottom Line

The best negotiation is the one in which both parts feel "it could be better". The price balances w... Sign up

Kiruba Nagini R
Student (MBA), India

BATNA versus Bottomline

Choosing between BATNA or Bottom line must not go against the organization's interest. So a negotiat... Sign up

Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands

Meaning of Bottom Line in Negotiating

@Kiruba Nagini R: Be careful not to mix up the term "bottom line" as it is used here, in the context... Sign up

David Miller
United States

Most Desired Outcome(MDO) and Least Acceptable Agreement (LAA)

When preparing for a negotiation, it is critical to also determine your Most Desired Outcome (MDO), ... Sign up


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