BATNA or Best Alternative to Negotiated Agreement

Why do we put up with misery? Even if it ends up being good for us?

Introducing BATNA

In a way, misery has shown itself a few times.  I’ve made a couple of miserable “nothing to lose” types of decisions or have been in such situations.  One such example situation is BATNA or Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement.  If you start from 0, and a new situation arises then it’s the best that you can do if that new situation does not work out and you are left to your own devices.  But the term is usually done in situations that depends on cooperation with at least one other person.  BATNA is not necessarily your ideal outcome–unless your ideal outcome is something you can get without the cooperation of the other person. It is the best you can do WITHOUT THEM.  I am a big fan of game theory and BATNA has its roots in law.  Here’s an example of BATNA in the context of family law.

Therefore, let’s say 0 is unhappiness.  Then, you really just cannot go any lower than 0 (or, the baseline unhappiness).

Another one is in learning new skills.  At 0 you have no skills in a specialist area.  Then, you really just cannot go any lower than 0.

Being at a constant 0

The thing here is that 0 is hard for people.  Maybe it will take someone days, weeks, months, or even years until their discomfort passes.  A classic example is the first few stages of someone who is an expat.  They move overseas and they go through a stage of discomfort, melancholia, anxiety.  Eventually, the discomfort passes, and the person goes from being an outside to someone who is more “at home”.

Being at a constant 0 even if you are moving

Over time, the baseline may have moved or changed a bit.  But each time, it becomes the new 0.  Which is a good recipe of being a perpetually unhappy, unsatisfied person.

In this way, you need to be aware of your BATNA.  What is the best that you can do without x?