Ask Alignor

How should I determine my bottom line for negotiations?

Your bottom line should be calibrated against the following risk analysis: how you will do if you walk away from a proposed agreement? You should analyze the effects on your interests (particularly your critical interests) from likely “fighting alternatives” scenarios that may occur if there is no agreement. What are we talking about? You should evaluate what you may do to satisfy your own interests unilaterally, and what you might possibly do to impose consequences on other stakeholders if they do not come to agreement. Then you should also look at what other stakeholders may do to satisfy their interests and what they may possibly do to harm the interests of others, including your interests. Your bottom line in negotiations should be calibrated to satisfy your overall interests with reference to the likely “fighting alternatives” scenario. For example, if your interests will be harmed worse by a proposed negotiated agreement than if you were to pursue your “fighting alternatives,” then in most cases you should pursue those “fighting alternatives” rather than settling for an inferior negotiated agreement.