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Why Zoom Out?

There is a big shift when our view expands from the negotiating table —with the immediate parties focused on an agreement— to the whole situation with all the stakeholders, including their BATNAs (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement). Players and actions away from the table often have a profound influence on the negotiation process. William learned this lesson the hard way during tough negotiations between striking coal miners and mine managers in Kentucky, USA. Get curious about who or what might be left out of your negotiation.

When you Zoom Out, it’s critical to identify everyone’s BATNA: how will people satisfy their interests if they can’t reach agreement? All too often people go into a negotiation looking for agreement and only examine their alternatives if things go badly. Having a viable alternative creates leverage in the negotiation. The better one’s BATNA, the more power they have.

Practice Zoom Out

  1. Identify and develop your BATNA. Know your alternatives to help increase your chances of success in satisfying your interests.

  2. Map all the stakeholders. Pay special attention to who can most influence the conflict —either constructively or destructively— that’s currently not part of the negotiation process.

  3. Sketch 3 future scenarios. Plan for both positive and negative scenarios to optimize for the former and prepare for the latter.

Audio Series


In this episode, we go with William into tough negotiations between striking coal miners and mine managers in eastern Kentucky. He learned the hard way just how important it is to zoom out and take in the whole picture — and even got hazed a little along the way.



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