One of the joys of being a trainer is when you bump into people who can actually remember something of what you trained them in! I had just such a moment only last week, when in a staff restaurant in Amsterdam someone came over to me and said “It’s the BANANA man!” Far from finding this offensive, as you might imagine I could have, it was in fact a pleasure to know that this person, who, we worked out, had attended my Negotiation Skills training about 5 years previously, was remembering one of the key concepts of the course.

Let me explain. I developed the BANANA concept when I first started training about 15 years ago. Anyone who has been on a Negotiations course will probably have come across the BATNA concept. BANANA is the same concept, but much easier to remember, I hope you’ll agree. “Never negotiate without a BANANA inyour pocket” conjures up an image in peoples’ minds which clearly stays there. I can’t think why….

So, here’s a piece of free negotiation skills input for those of you not familiar with the BATNA. It stands for:

BEST ALTERNATIVE TO A NEGOTIATED AGREEMENT.

Honestly. Take the first letter of each word and you can just about make a BANANA out of it.

So, never negotiate without an alternative to doing the deal, that day, at that level, with that person. Always have in your pocket the option to get up and walk away. Have the option to say you’ll go away and think about it, talk to the boss, do the deal with someone else, whatever.

If you haven’t got a BANANA, the other party can tell. It leaks through in your body language, the stress in your voice, the little beads of sweat on your brow. You can’t hide it. And if the other party is so minded, he or she will then take you to the cleaners, as they say.

I’ve been BANANA – less on many occasions, most notable when buying my wife a new car. It was all her fault: she told me not to come home without it! That absence of fruit in my pocket cost me at least £500. I blame her, of course, but actually it was down to me. It was before I had learnt how important that little yellow skinned friend can be.

So there you go. Plan your BANANAS just as carefully as you plan the other stuff (Fallback position etc.).  Don’t whip them out too soon (because when you do it rather breaks the rapport).  Pull them out politely if you want to use it to get a Win/Win.

And don’t forget, final thought for the day: PLASTIC BANANAS WORK TOO! Now there’s a novel concept.  Don’t forget to recycle when you’ve used them!

Here are some short videos showing BANANAS at work.

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