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It's All Politics: Winning in a World Where Hard Work and Talent Aren't Enough Paperback – September 19, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Showing how to break complex office politics down into its simpler emotional parts, USC management professor Reardon eschews canned advice and cuts to the neediness and manipulation that define many workdays. Using hyper-realistic, no-nonsense sample dialogues that contain everything from colleagues who blindside to shoot-the-messenger bosses, she demonstrates how to shade language, alter timing and shift tone in a plethora of complex situations. More long-term advice includes engaging in advance planning, forming relationships and developing prepared responses to common situations, but Reardon freshens these chestnuts by treating them as the very difficult tasks they really are. The consistent use of an intentionally cheesy single character throughout the book, "Reginald Strongbrow," illustrates the path of a person from political naïveté to astuteness. While acknowledging that political strategy and intuition do not come naturally to most, Reardon's behaviorist approach and realistic expectations ring true and are carried off with a directed sensibility. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"Finally! A book that elevates the concept of workplace politics to where it belongs -- the top of the list of skills needed for sustained success." 
-- Lois P. Frankel, Ph. D.

"By inserting advice on virtues and ethics into the discussion of workplace politics, Reardon not only shows people how to get ahead by using the practiced skills of master politicians, but she also demonstrates the proper use of those skills to maintain high professional standards. Her clear descriptions of the issues and answers surrounding politics make her insights understandable and actionable." 
-- Soundview Executive Book Summaries

"In her new book, It's All Politics: Winning in a World Where Hard Work and Talent Aren't Enough, Reardon provides practical techniques to help break down office politics.  Her no-nonsense approach focuses on gaining political intuition and advancing in the workplace."
--U.S. News & World Report

Advance Praise for It’s All Politics

“This is Reardon’s most important book and a terrific read. She makes a brilliant case for a new and important force in the workplace, political intelligence. Understanding this force is vital for success.”
—Warren Bennis, distinguished Professor of Business, University of Southern California, and Author of On Becoming a Leader

Acclaim for Kathleen Kelley Reardon’s The Secret Handshake

The Secret Handshake is like a crash course in Business Psychology 101 . . . Reardon writes crisply and to the point . . . You owe it to yourself to read her book.”
USA Today

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business; Reprint edition (September 19, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385507585
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385507585
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #575,202 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kathleen Kelley Reardon's newest book, the mystery thriller SHADOW CAMPUS, is her debut novel.

Author of 10 books, she is a professor at USC's Marshall School of Business, a featured political blogger at The Huffington Post since 2005, and the recipient of the 2013 Humanitarian Award from the UConn Alumni Association.

Her first book, PERSUASION IN PRACTICE, (revised edition retitled), was called by Public Opinion Quarterly "a landmark contribution to the field" of research and theory in persuasion.

Her first trade book, THEY DON'T GET IT, DO THEY?, was based on her Harvard Business Review article "The Memo Every Woman Keeps in Her Desk," which became an HBR reprint best seller. Her latest HBR article is "Courage as a Skill."

THE SECRET HANDSHAKE (2000), an Amazon business and nonfiction bestseller, provides a rare and perceptive inside look at the politics of business. IT'S ALL POLITICS (2005) provides a deeper analysis of workplace politics. Other Kathleen Kelley Reardon books for professional people include THE SKILLED NEGOTIATOR (2004) and COMEBACKS AT WORK: USING CONVERSATION TO MASTER CONFRONTATION (2010).

Professor Reardon also wrote CHILDHOOD DENIED: ENDING THE NIGHTMARE OF CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT (2008) an investigation into the legal, political and societal treatment of foster children in the U.S. The concept she introduced in that book of creating university-based academies to prepare foster children for college (of whom only approximately 3% graduate) has already resulted in the creation of four such academies at major universities, with more on the way. At First Star, the nonprofit with which initiates and develops those academies, she was a co-founding board member is the its Distinguished Research Fellow

Her breakthrough INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS GIFT-GIVING: A GUIDE FOR AMERICAN EXECUTIVES was used by the White House Office of Protocol as a primary reference for many years as well as by chiefs of protocol for nations and businesses around the world.

At USC, Dr. Reardon also served on the Preventive Medicine Faculty for over 15 years and was earlier a professor of Communication Sciences at UCONN. She earned her Ph.D., at UMass Amherst, where she graduated with distinction and won the NCA national dissertation of the year award. She is also a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi and Mortar Board. She has consulted for many individuals, and companies large and small around the world on topics related to communication, persuasion, negotiation and politics at work.

She has appeared on The Today Show, NBC Nightly News and Good Morning America. Her research and writings have been covered in hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles and broadcast news segments.

In SHADOW CAMPUS, she has taken her knowledge of politics in the workplace to fiction and shows us how even at universities often all is not what it seems.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Groner VINE VOICE on January 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Reardon's topic is winning at office politics -- getting along and rising to the top in a corporation or similar organization by understanding human interactions. This book will be useful to anyone, particularly a new employee or a recent college graduate, who is trying to figure out how things really work on the job.

She correctly identifies all white-collar employees as "politicians" and points out that office politics is inevitable. Some people will win and some will lose. Her case studies are fascinating -- particularly the ones that involve responding to nasty e-mails or coping with putdowns by practitioners of "negative politics." To her great credit, Reardon emphssizes that there are times when merely "getting along" is not the right answer and when courage, integrity, and risk-taking are essential. And she gives appropriate weight to issues of personal style: some people face problems head-on, while others defer them; some are "in your face," while others avoid confrontation.

There are places where Reardon's expository energy seems to slow and the book plods along. But soon, the reader is caught up in another case study or interesting e-mail exchange and the book picks up strength again.
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43 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Diverse on July 25, 2008
Format: Paperback
Kathleen Reardon seems to be laying the groundwork to be the university expert in corporate politics. First her book "Secret Handshake" and now this one. I read them both, and neither was helpful to me, a 20+ year management veteran of the corporate world.

Dr. Reardon gives real life situations for her case studies. She discusses what to do when a person is passively-aggressive in a meeting, or explaining a backstabbing incident.
The boiled down advice all readers should use in all situations is: "Confront the attacker. First with professionalism. If they don't respond, let it be known you will fight and you won't be a pushover. If THAT doesn't work, you'll need to get some senior executives on your side, to confront this person. If none of those work, quit."

Well, the 1st and 2nd pieces of advice are pretty obvious, but don't always work, especially when you're new to a company or department, unsure of yourpolitical capital, and unsure of the consequences of confronting a coworker or boss. Most attackers have support from others, and know how to spin an alternate version of a 'situation' so the victim (this book's reader) is seen as politically paranoid. I've been in companies where nasty people have a lot of clout, and confronting them is not smart.

Dr. Reardon's 3rd piece of advice is hilarious. "Find a senior executive to back you up, so that when the confrontation becomes public, you will have their support." Huh? If i had access to senior executives to back me up, i would drop their name to the politically inept backstabber and win the fight instantly. And most senior executives aren't about to back up junior managers just because they are asked to. They have their own political capital they are building.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Betty Burks on August 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This valuable reference book explains the "in's and outs" of office politics, which are the most single factor in getting ahead in the career of your choice. This book is full of commonsense wisdom on how to get along with others and get ahead in life. Dr. Reardon is the author of THE SECRET HANDSHAKE about business psychology. She's great!

Talent alone does not insure success; you must have those important relationships with the people who can best reward your creativity and intelligence. You are encouraged to 'pick your battles wisely' to deal with a difficult co-worker.

When we think about politicians, automatically the words 'unethical' and 'devious' (sometimes flat-out 'lies') come to mind. In the workplace, "knowing what to say, to whom, and how and when to say it." Most of all, you will need to be able to convert enemies into your allies to win crucial support for your ideas.

The only way to avoid politics at work is to avoid people. "For every locked entrance, there is a back door, window, even a chimney;" always be sure there is a way out before you crawl into a corner. It is important to remember that there is more than one way to handle any situation: good, bad or indifferent.

Intuition is needed, but just as necessary is the power of persuasion.Power is a critical part of career politics. People remember those they perceive to be powerful. Power, like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder.

A good read, wonderful instruction in the ways of life at work and at home, and packed full of good advice. It behooves us to try to follow her instructions as close to the letter as possible. She knows what she is talking about; you can, too.
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Jaewoo Kim VINE VOICE on October 16, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Considering corporate politics exist in all corporations, it is amazing how little it is studied. In fact, many corporations deny that politics even exist in their organization (yeah right!)

This book is written by an academia with a PhD from one of the better business schools (USC). This alone makes this book unique since most books on corporate politics seems to be written by used car salesmen rather than by a rational intellectual.

The author attempts to tackle the heavy challenge of explaining the nature and ways of power and politics in 232 pages. Overall, the book contains lot of valuable information such as "read between the lines" and "ability to see things as others do is paramount".

I felt several key components of corporate politics and power were missing or were dealt supreficially. For example, leadership (ability to put the team first and persevering through inconsistencies of human emotions and behavior) and emotional intelligence (ability to be calm and collective even when the situation demands anger and impulsive action) was not emphasized at all. I also believe that appearing detached from politics (even one is fully involved in strategizing) and being a "hard to get" person to all suitors of power is important. Finally, nothing gives you more power than knowledge. If you are more of an expert in a specific technical field, you are intrinsically more powerful.

Although I do not believe this book can, and does not, contain all the information related to power and politics in the corporate world, it is nonethless one of the most credible.
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