Andrea Schneider (Marquette) – Labels Suck, er ah, Stink

When writing her text books w/ co-authors, Andrea found that the headings and labels used in writing the book created confusion and disagreements.  Labels hide the reality of what negotiators do, what they need to do in order to be effective.  Many different labels overlap or describe or the same thing.  But behaviors and skills need to be used in a number of different contexts (client, counterpart, and other variables), and it’s the selection of skills that matters – not the label given to them.  The most effective negotiators select among several skills – assertiveness, empathy, and flexibility .  Andrea now argues that labels “have outlived their usefulness.”

  • Our classes are a dialogue b/w skills and theory.  Labels serve as roadmaps – people can be in baffling spots, but labels can help negotiators regain their bearings.  And it helps us organize our teaching.
  • Social cognition literature has good stuff about why people like to categorize.  Categories are very helpful and we’re hard-wired to do this.  For example, tiger = danger
  • Lit on identity – categories affiliates w/ us certain things and differentiates us from others.  This is what your natural comfort zone is – there are circumstances when you want and not want to be skilled in this area.   
  • Maybe use innovation instead of creativity.  Creativity makes people think of abstract things where innovation an ability to come up w/ ideas.
  • Labels help people understand behaviors and the patterns of behaviors.  Getting rid of labels entirely is problematic – the problem and the solution don’t fit well.
  • Watch out in labels of minimal, average, best practices – it’s not necessarily what we see.  For example, it could be aspirational minimal, especially when it comes to law students.
  • Remember, we are academics – theory = labels.
  • Since labels are here to stay, maybe you can tell us how to use them better.  Learning different frameworks actually helps our understanding and the labels bring out nuance.
  • Difference b/w teaching the science compared to being good negotiators.  How do we achieve our goal of preparing better negotiators?
  • My students are going to want to be the best at all of these skills – even empathy.

3 thoughts on “Andrea Schneider (Marquette) – Labels Suck, er ah, Stink”

  1. Speaking as a student, learning all of the labels contained in an Intro ADR textbook has been a daunting project. Some of the labels I will remember as I go into practice, others I will inevitably forget. For me, the most valuable labels are the ones that describe skills or theories that I think are somewhat intuitive. By that I mean, those skills and theories which I contemplated before I took the class, but did not yet have a name for. The label helps to make the skill or theory stick and it may make it easier for me to describe a certain skill or strategy when in practice. For example, I think the concept of a BATNA is rather intuitive and to me it seems natural that any party going into negotiation would want to brainstorm his or her alternatives. Now, having the label “BATNA” in my vocabulary, the process of formulating alternatives has become more concrete and has validated my intuitions.

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