• BATNA, WATNA, MLATNA And EATNA…WTF? (Negotiation Is Fun: Part 4)

    Posted on September 14, 2012 by in Body Language, Bosses, Business, Context Communication, Culture, Emotions, Employees, Employers, Fairness, Fear, Gender, Income, Money, Negotiation, Psychology

    Personal finance bloggers seem to love acronyms – from ETF’s, CFP, AGI and ARM’s to ROI, EBITDA, APR’s and IRA’s. How many others can you think of right now?

    Negotiators and Negotiation Trainers love their acronyms, too.

    But I find using colorful metaphors, allegories and analogies – rather than acronyms – during training is a lot more fun. Don’t you agree?

    As I said when I started this series- it’s important to learn negotiation terms and concepts, but there’s no reason why we can’t make it a little more enjoyable.

    So, if we’re going to talk about negotiation- let’s talk about something interesting like…Unicorns and Rainbows! No, you didn’t just hallucinate. I really did mention Unicorns and Rainbows. And with the Unicorns and Rainbows you also have to include something most of us don’t find quite so pleasant- Doomsday! I like to use Unicorns and Rainbows and Doomsday because both of those phrases paint a very vivid picture in your mind.

    Think of these two things as being on the opposite end of a line from each other. When you’re in a negotiation, they represent the two extremes- Unicorns and Rainbows represent the best possible outcome (most negotiation trainers call this the BATNABest Alternative To A Negotiated Agreement) and Doomsday represents the worst possible outcome (most negotiation trainers call this the WATNAWorst Alternative To A Negotiated Agreement). In both Distributive and Integrative bargaining (we’ll talk more about the differences of these two types of negotiations later in this series) each person has a best and worst case scenario in their mind for what will or could happen during the negotiation.

    However, chances are, you won’t end up with either of these extremes in a negotiation. At least one person will pull out of a negotiation before they occur.

    Usually, the result of a successful negotiation is somewhere within a range in the middle of the line.

    That means the result of most negotiations don’t end up exactly in the middle. The result will end up left of center or right of center a little bit or a lot depending on their situation, negotiation skills of those involved and many other factors.

    But understanding the extremes and the possible range of outcomes of a negotiation is only part of the process. You also have to consider what happens if you stop the negotiations completely. This is what I call the Reality Check (many of my fellow Negotiation trainers call it the MLATNAMost Likely Alternative To A Negotiated Agreement or EATNA- Estimated Alternative To A Negotiated Agreement).

    When someone in a negotiation or mediation gets frustrated because they’re not getting their way (it happens a lot), I’ll use a quick Reality Check to help them think about the possible consequences if they walk away and give up their power to someone else (such as an arbitrator or court). Usually a Reality Check makes them realize they’re better off continuing the negotiation because they remain in control and maintain some power over the outcome.

    I must admit, there have been a few occasions where an individual is so overwhelmed and unprepared for a negotiation they think it is better to let someone else decide. However, when I speak with them again, almost every single one has deeply regretted that decision because it didn’t work out the way they wanted.

    It very rarely does.

    Well- congratulations, my friend! You now know what the most prominent negotiation acronyms mean. But I still think Unicorns and Rainbows, Doomsday and Reality Check are a lot easier (and cooler) to remember.

    Negotiation doesn’t have to be scary or awkward. When you know how to plot out the possibilities- you’ll start to see a pattern. A pattern we’ll talk about more as this series progresses.

    Next week we’ll talk about how you can make tens of thousands of dollars in just a few hours…yes, REALLY!


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