The Leading Edge – Hillary, It’s Time to BATNA Down the Hatches*

Show me someone who hasn’t thought through a BATNA

Show me someone who hasn’t thought through a BATNA
(Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement) and I’ll show you Hillary Clinton.


BATNA is a term first developed by negotiation researchers Roger Fisher and Bill Ury of the Harvard Program on Negotiation (PON).
When people in a negotiation or campaign for the Presidential
nomination have not thought through a contingency plan if their first one
fails, they tend to become more desperate and intransigent on their
first position.

The reason people don’t let go of their
obsessive hold on a losing outcome (or some would say its obsessive
hold on them) is that doing so threatens to throw them into a free fall
leading to a dark black hole that feels bottomless.

It is like a death. And like a death one needs to go through the stages that Elisabeth Kübler-Ross outlined in her seminal work: On Death and Dying.

Those stages are:

  1. Denial – “I won’t accept it, because I can’t accept it, because I don’t what else I’ll do if this fails.”
  2. Anger
    – “I will fight tooth and nail against anyone who tries to make me
    accept it, because I will be too lost if this doesn’t happen.”
  3. Bargaining
    – “Okay, I’m not going to be President, but how about Vice President or
    something so I don’t have to face having nothing.”
  4. Despair –
    “It’s all real. It’s not a bad dream. I AM lost and don’t feel like
    doing anything else. Everybody, just leave me alone.”
  5. Acceptance
    – “Okay, I guess I don’t have nothing. I still have my family, I still
    have people who believed in me, I still have a job in the Senate, I can
    still make a difference.”

It’s time for someone to say
strongly, firmly and lovingly to Hillary: “Your campaign is over, your
life is not over. You have the opportunity now for poise and
graciousness, or for bitterness and despair and it’s up to you to
choose which one.”

Obama V. Clinton: The Smiles Have It!


* I am indebted to Ken McLeod, Executive Director of McLeod & Associates for assistance with this piece. 


About the author

Mark Goulston, M.D. is the Co-Fonder of Heartfelt Leadership a global community whose Mission of Daring to Care it dedicated to identifying, celebrating, developing and supporting heartfelt leaders who are as committed to making a difference as they are to making a profit