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I think we're saying the same thing. If the status quo is 100 your BATNA is by definition >= 100. It may be 120 though, if there's some other thing you can do that improves your situation if you can't get the deal done. So if the deal is worth 150 to you and the other party tries to negotiate for 110 claiming "it's still better for you than the status quo", knowing your BATNA allows you to say "nope, I'll do X and get 120 without the deal".

Sure, it's the same principle, but I was thinking more in the sense of knowing whether you're wasting your time or not. Asking for a raise, for instance. If your job is commoditized and there's no difference between you and someone else doing it, that means the balance of power in the exchange lies with your employer and your BATNA is to just keep working there at your current salary. You have no leverage.

The CFO at the company I work for tried to jerk me around by saying they wanted to put off bringing me on permanent, a $400 a week difference, for months. The company's BATNA in this situation was even worse than the status quo. It took them four months to find me and I've been doing great. I made some token efforts at negotiating, then started playing hardball by calling the staffing agency and threatening to leave. They folded practically instantly.

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