JAMS ADR Blog by Chris Poole
Andrea was kind enough to forward me a copy of her acceptance speech from Saturday. As you might expect it was inclusive, clever and funny. If you had to leave early and missed the luncheon, the text is included below. Make sure you read it in Andrea’s voice to get the full effect!
Apparently, I was always going to become a negotiator. My parents tell the story of when my brother and I were little, we were each given 25 cents per week to clean up our room. So I negotiated with my brother that I would pay him 10 cents per week to clean up my room for me. I must have thought this was brilliant until my parents decided that exploiting my younger brother was, perhaps, not the lesson to be learned! But clearly the possibilities intrigued me.
What have I learned about the field since then? I want to use today to send two key messages—teaching negotiation and dispute resolution is the pursuit of optimism and, second, we will be better at this when we continually search beyond our silo, beyond our discipline and beyond our borders for the most compelling theory and practice out there.
Early in my career, I was asked to give a quick talk to Marquette University’s Board of Trustees explaining a little about what I teach and why I did it. It was actually entitled What’s a Nice Jewish Girl Doing at a Jesuit Institution, or something like that.
And when I stepped back to think about what negotiation and ADR and international law and ethics all have in common, it is that they look for the best in people. It is the ideal of how people and countries, should behave toward one another with the recognition that ongoing interaction and communication inevitably includes conflict. It’s not that we can eliminate conflict–it’s that we can handle it better. I also think that these classes are optimistic. Why bother teaching them if you don’t believe that you can change the world for the better? And I think that is something that most of us have in common–we are optimists. We do this work because we believe. We believe that behavior can change, we believe that people can learn, we believe that most leaders want what is best for their country and not just themselves. This optimism has, of course, been labeled as naive over the years. It has been particularly tested this year. But, seriously, if we didn’t think that we could make a difference, most of us would have found another career a long time ago!
This work also takes patience and persistence since we know people and situations do not change easily. So…for better or worse, I tend to view the answer “no” as “not now.” And I will come back around to ask again. I also think that when we view learning as an invitation—let’s do this together—we are more likely to effectuate the change we want in our students, in our schools, and in our communities. I think that what has worked for me is to own this optimism and invite others along for the ride.
My approach to negotiation and dispute resolution has always been that more is better. More problem solving, more theory, more practice, more disciplines and more theory from more disciplines from more countries! I was blessed to have a rather interdisciplinary undergraduate career so when I was given the opportunity in law school to work at the Program on Negotiation and then the year after at Stanford Center on Conflict and Negotiation (SCCN), I felt very comfortable recognizing the important contributions of other disciplines. A year of teaching in the political science department at George Washington before going to Marquette cemented this belief that the most effective negotiation theory will come by building on the strengths of each discipline. And I realized along the way, that even law itself is siloed. So much of my work tries to apply dispute resolution theory and practice to shed light on topics from international trade to criminal law, in a way that might be useful to scholars and students.
From my lawyer grandfather, I was taught early on that curiosity and humility will lead to taking pleasure in a life of learning. If we assume we know all we need to know, we can close our books. Keep teaching the same thing and call it a day. If we assume there is more out there, we must continue to push ourselves out of our comfort zone, out of our discipline and push ourselves even out of the country (the latter, as you might know, hardly takes a serious push for me—I am delighted to travel!).
I need to thank a lot of people for this award–like many things in life worth accomplishing, it takes a village. My village is more like a city.
At Marquette, I have had a great team. My first dean, the late Howard Eisenberg, early on was a big supporter, finding money for my empirical studies so that I would not have to wait for grant funding. My current dean has let me build the program I always wanted and pretty much do what I want. I have had, for ten years, a terrific partner with Natalie Fleury who is so much more than the program coordinator. As we both say, I get to think of ideas and Natalie makes them happen. It’s quite amazing and I am so grateful. And, my fabulous assistant Carrie, who I am so happy could be here with us. Carrie and I have been together for 20 years now. If you are lucky enough to find someone who vests her own success in yours, it is an incredible team. I could go on for hours about her skills, initiative, and determination that we both succeed. Really I can only say thank you.
All four of my parents are here, which is just one sign of how supported I was and continue to be by my family. Three out of four of them are academics who have given great advice and perspective over the years on managing that career. Let me thank my dad and step mom who brought me into teach scientists to negotiate and provided outstanding career advice throughout and with whom I am now writing a book on negotiation in academia; my step-dad, who made sure I know that book smarts only go so far and gave me great stories for my Ted talk. (He is, if you were wondering, the one who fired me in high school, giving me a story about my early negotiation skills that is still golden). As for my mom, who is a history professor, I grew up saying I wasn’t going to be anything like her and God laughed. Years after I started teaching, I visited her classroom and, wouldn’t you know, we even have the same teaching style. She has always been my biggest cheerleader—from my first book on the Musee d’Orsay, to taking trips to study conflict in places like Sarajevo and Belfast, to supporting every work-family choice I’ve ever made.
My three sons, who could not be here, have been the best providers of stories to continually keep me humble and teach me all about conflict. I mean conflict resolution. Children do not care about your work at all. And that is a good thing. Have a lousy day and they are there to cheer you up. Have a great day and they are there to remind you that all the law review articles in the world matter less than a good game of Boggle. And just when you think you know how to negotiate, there is always a child ready to set you straight!
As for my husband, I really could not have done any of this without you. From agreeing to move wherever when I went on the academic market, to reading law review article introductions to make sure they were understandable outside of my silo, to being a true partner in raising our kids, I could not have chosen more wisely. When I got engaged, Roger Fisher called me into his office to congratulate me and also offer some marriage advice. He said, just remember, if you walk out of an argument with Rodd saying that you won, you’ve lost. I try to remember that advice (although I am sure that I do not practice what I preach all the time). But Rodd is the one I want to negotiate with the rest of my life. So thank you!
Let me close by thanking all of you, my colleagues, and friends.
All those who have co-authored or co-editing book or article, please stand
If co-blogger on indisputably, please stand
If you contributed a chapter to the Negotiator’s Fieldbook or Negotiator’s Desk Reference, please stand
If you came to Marquette for a conference, please stand
If you attended a works in progress conference anywhere, please stand
If you commented on the Indisputably blog, please stand
If you read the blog, please stand.
If you are not yet standing, it’s only a matter of time before I find you!
I look around and see this wonderful community! Thank you.
All of you who have participated in my academic endeavors in one way or another, I am so very grateful. For challenging me, for editing me, for sparking new ideas, for celebrating and supporting –I am so very grateful that we have this amazing community of scholars and teachers.
I know that without your participation, enthusiasm & friendship, I would absolutely not be as committed to this field as I am. You are what makes this work so rewarding. So thank you all so very much for this recognition & award!
The term ‘constructive ambiguity’ is often attributed to Henry Kissinger and is a negotiating tactic used to cover up areas of disagreement or to save face of those taking part...By Brendan Donaghy