Qureshi on Negotiation

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Some time ago, I ran across a couple of blog posts by Haseeb Qureshi, whose job hunting exploits had gone viral. The topic of the two posts is negotiating a job offer, but I think they are valuable for negotiation in general. Here is an excerpt from the second regarding the value of having alternatives:

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In negotiation literature, your best alternative is often referred to as your BATNA (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement). Basically, it's what you'd do if you walked away.

I like the term BATNA a lot, mostly because it sounds like a gadget Batman would lob at bad guys.

So what's your BATNA if you don't have other offers? Do you even have one?

Of course you do. Your best alternative might be "interview at more companies" or "go to grad school" or "stay at your current job" or "go on sabbatical in Morocco for a few months" (as it was for a friend of mine who was deliberating between joining a startup and gallivanting through North Africa).

The point is, you don't need to have another offer to have a strong BATNA. Your BATNA's strength comes from 1) how strong the other side perceives it to be, and 2) how strong you perceive it to be. [emphasis in original]
Qureshi's general approach to negotiation might best be encapsulated by the following, taken from earlier in that post: "[W]hen you think of negotiating a job offer, don't imagine haggling over a used car. Think more like negotiating dinner plans with a group of friends, and you'll fare much better." Throughout the piece, Qureshi helps the reader see things from each side of the negotiation, and realize that even when the process might seem like a zero-sum game, it really isn't. Most important, he provides solid reasons for his advice throughout, which will permit the reader to evaluate it and, in the process start building confidence as a negotiator right away.

-- CAV


Snedcat said...

Yo, Gus, you quote: Basically, it's what you'd do if you walked away.

It's always important to know just that, and be willing to stick by it. My old boss at the law firm told me the businessmen he admired most in his experience were Danes and Israelis, because he had been in meetings with them where the other side (usually Chinese state firms, who are total jerks at the negotiating table) didn't make an acceptable counter-offer, probably expecting to wear them down, so they just left. He said that was an attitude far too few businessmen cultivated, much to their detriment.

Gus Van Horn said...


Preparing to move, we needed to renegotiate our pending lease extension. Great career move for my wife, but horrendous timing. The landlady went ballistic, but in the process handed me a better BATNA than I could have ever cooked up: Leaving at once. "I'd start packing," was one of the nicer things she said during the two phone calls she gave me before I even knew what our actual time frame might be.

Since I'd seen enough of her backside, I dealt with the property manager once I had a decent idea of our time parameters. Telling her we were actively looking at moving out by month's end lit a fire I didn't know that company was capable of.

We got what we wanted that day.