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VINE VOICEon January 15, 2006
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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on July 25, 2008
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. They're not going to squander it just because you come into their office and ask them to.
To propose getting your Big Brother to beat up the Bully as the "get out of difficult political situations free" option proves she's an academic, buried in theory.

Oh, and if you, the reader, can't get any of these three 'solutions' to work, you should "find another job." Well, finding another job is not helpful to those of us who have families, who want to stay in our neighborhoods, and don't want to create an emotionally traumatic family problem by moving spouse and kids to another state just because the corporate breadwinner keeps getting into political fights at work. Maybe the corporate breadwinner should maneuver out of this small battle, and live to fight another day (or maybe try to not fight at all).

I found all the suggestions sound good while comfortable in your chair at home, but useless come the workweek. Dr. Reardon assumes every reader is in a position to find Goliath's at work to stand behind them, quit jobs they don't like, and change companies and cities if they don't get their way. The options proposed are improbably contrived solutions to intractable problems.

Sun Tzu said "Every battle is won or lost before it is fought." Dr. Reardon gives you impractical tactics to implement while fighting, instead of teaching you how to stay out of the fight and still succeed.
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on August 3, 2005
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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VINE VOICEon October 16, 2005
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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on November 5, 2005
I read this book with an eye to adopt the book as an MBA text for my Power, Politics and Influence class, and ended up taking personal notes while at the same time assigning the book to my students.

Dr. Reardon introduces the concept of 'political intelligence' in a credible, well reasoned and approachable manner, which make the 15 clearly articulated political advantages straightforward to understand and useful to develop in establishing one's own 'political intelligence.'

The book integrates personal experience, research and stories in such a way as to teach the reader how to navigate "Office Politics 101." The book was meaningful for helping to develop my personal political savvy, even after teaching and studying the topic for years.
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on November 24, 2005
After 29 years in corporate world and 4 years working in public schools, I see this book as a must-read for twenty somethings and an excellent refresher for those looking back and wondering how to be sharper and more effective in their current careers. The value of It's All Politics is not only the specific relationship building skills it promotes...intution, insight, persuasion...but most importantly, it tells HOW to develop these skills. A practical tool for relationships at work and in every sector of life.

Of particular interest to me was the chapter on Positive Politics, and the discussion of mutual respect and virtue in the office. Fills a void often found today...Don't miss this final chapter.
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on September 29, 2005
...that someone wrote a book for the politically under prepared at work. The politics of the workplace can quickly become overwhelming and your future often hangs in the balance. "It's All Politics" offers a focused, real world scenario guide for the knock down drag out, laugh in the face of death world of workplace politics. Got problems in this area? This book is a great place to start!
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on July 21, 2007
Approaching this book, it seemed to be a Machiavellian Scheming for Dummies. But whatever your field, politics IS a natural human interaction. Please leave your own conceptions about office politics behind and take a look at this book. It won't teach you to topple foreign governments and bilk your clients. Rather, it illustrates the ways people use politics for both good and ill -- sometimes skillfully and sometimes ham-handedly -- and how you can steer those interactions to your advantage rather than being a victim of them. Some of the examples and solutions are overly basic and scripted. But unless you've never driven home from work stewing about a smarmy colleague or cursing a boss, you might get something from this book.
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on July 16, 2013
You've gone to school or maybe work with That Guy or That Girl. The one who ballet dances through the social minefields, while you make do with a pogo stick. You wonder if he or she was raised by a family of political virtuosos. What the *heck* does he or she know that most folks don't?

You need this book. Dr. Reardon gives actionable advice, including strategies for handling situations such as your boss getting a paramour who doesn't seem to like you, a peer personally attacking you or someone whose power needs to be reduced or shifted. And she goes right down to the nitty-gritty, like "Most changes of topic require an appropriate transition or an apology for changing the subject. These considerations are *not* superfluous; they are crucial to advancement in any organization." [Emphasis original]

She gives specific, concrete examples, right down to the actual wording of lines you could use -- with different assertiveness levels for various temperaments (not to mention for different political contexts!). For example, if someone seems to be giving you subtle mixed messages, you can say "I'm not sure I completely understand what you're saying" if you want to draw him/her out some more, or "Should I take what you said to mean that I need to change my ways?" if you want to get more direct (and are more sure of your interpretation).

She also makes clear that some issues -- like your boss dating a co-worker who's not completely in your corner -- just can't be solved, only managed: "In business, some problems are chronic, and if you can work your way around them, you're doing well."

This book is really Part II of a pair, so first get The Secret Handshake: Mastering the Politics of the Business Inner Circle, devour and digest it and then read this one.

If you were lucky enough to grow up with parents and maybe a few other adults who taught you organizational politics inside and out...well, that just means you got to save a few bucks toward a pizza instead of buying this book.
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on November 18, 2005
I wish I had read it earlier in my career and recommend everyone read it, especially women. Having worked in a man's world (law enforcement) I especially enjoyed the chapter on "Political Power." My children will read this book before they start college !
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