Customer Reviews: Comebacks at Work: Using Conversation to Master Confrontation
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on November 4, 2010
Have you ever come away from a meeting wishing you had said something--or worse, wishing that you hadn't lost your cool and embarrassed yourself? In "Comebacks at Work," Reardon and Noblet help you to map out in advance some of the dysfunctional communication patterns you are likely to get lost in at work, and then they help you chart the high road out.

"Comebacks at Work" gives you tools to deal with types like the Critic, the Blamer, the Complainer, and more. There is advice on dealing with comeback "brain freeze" and on recognizing dysfunctional patterns so that you can avoid getting sucked into them. There are assessments to help you figure out which comebacks work for you, which is very useful for non-confrontational types who might be reluctant to dish out comebacks.

While "Comebacks at Work" has a lot of substance and information, it's also an enjoyable read. Realistic (and often real-life) examples illustrate different ways to put the principles into practice. You get the tools to keep your cool, minimize your workplace stress, stay on the high road (in most cases), and work effectively.
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on November 1, 2010
Kathleen Kelley Reardon hits the mark time and time again with "Comebacks at Work". By encouraging me to think critically about how I communicate, and offering advice for those difficult conversations one encounters daily; I benefited immediately from the results.
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on November 6, 2010
Dr. Kathleen Kelley Reardon's latest book, written with Christopher Noblet, M.B.A., educates the reader in the art of constructing the disarming response. One of the greatest strengths of the book is that it allows you to re-examine your previous responses in professional contexts, and to learn that you indeed might have a bright future ahead! To those of us who stew for days about what we might have, could have, should have said, Reardon and Noblet provide us with insight into the process of productively preparing for and responding to uncomfortable work situations. While reminding us that we teach others how to treat us, Reardon and Noblet caution against using unproductive patterns of responding. I am fondest of the chapters, "Overcoming Comeback Brain Freeze," which visits those haunting moments of not knowing how to respond, "Choosing a Relevant Comeback," which provides a rubric of comebacks for a variety of situations, and "The Gut Check," which validates the connection between the rational and the emotional. Chock full of examples, Reardon and Noblet's book is comforting and readable.
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on November 27, 2010
"Comebacks at Work" by Kathleen Kelley Reardon, Ph.D., with Christopher Noblet, M.B.A., is an excellent resource for people who consistently find themselves at a loss for words when criticized, confronted or belittled by the bullies, blamers and control freaks that infest far too many workplaces.

We've all experienced that helpless feeling of "brain freeze" when a co-worker says something degrading or inappropriate, especially in front of others. It doesn't matter if the offender is malevolent or merely clueless; simply absorbing their abuse (or groundless accusations) not only increases your stress level, it can hurt you professionally by making you appear to be weak and ineffectual, the office doormat. And office doormats never get ahead; they get stepped on.

Reardon and Noblet's book offers numerous examples of the most common types of insulting or demeaning remarks uttered by colleagues (and bosses), along with the most effective ways to disarm them. It helps readers assess situations of conflict in order to choose the appropriate comeback, from non-confrontational "rephrasing" of an offending comment to stop-them-in-their-tracks rebukes and retaliations.

Perhaps the authors' most valuable insight, however, is that "each of us is at least 75 percent responsible for how people respond to us." That's a powerful, not to mention empowering, concept.

Nobody should have to put up with workplace verbal abuse and the related stress it brings. "Comebacks at Work" provides an practical blueprint and battle plan for fighting back.
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on August 18, 2014
Great book! If you have ever had an employer or co-worker who enjoyed making stupid comments at your expense this is the book to read, and according to the author this happens at MOST companies. She has several categories and addresses most issues that will cover the bases.
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on November 30, 2013
Do you just use conversations to express your feelings or exchange facts...and then wonder "How do those people manage to put aggressors in their place?"

Conversations aren't really about letting people know what's on your mind. They're about, among other things:

* Displaying how well you can fight back *proportionately* when provoked,

* Getting messages across in ways that can, if necessary, be denied later on,

* Showing how well you can sync with the other person,

* Gauging whether your co-worker has the courage of his convictions (a good sign that he's well-informed as well as well-intentioned),

* Showing that you don't take yourself too seriously (and hence that you [1] can see yourself to some extent as others see you and [2] have confidence in your abilities and track record),

* Seeing how well someone can think on her feet and under stress -- even on someone else's terms.

All well and good for those of us who either had families to train us from childhood, or picked it up by osmosis when we were young. For everyone else, there's Kathleen Kelley Reardon.

Comebacks aren't a cut and dried, paint by numbers exercise...any more than, say, playing chess. And just as every self-respecting chess book teaches not only the various pieces and their moves but also particular openings, gambits, sacrifices and other tactics, Comebacks at Work teaches different kinds of specific comebacks. In fact, it also gives various options for a given situation so you can pick your favorite.

For example, if someone says "That's one of the most stupid ideas I ever heard," you can respond with:

"I thought the same thing at first, but you'll find it quite ingenious if you'll listen a bit longer,"

"'Stupid' is exactly what people usually think of innovative ideas" or

"That's a natural first reaction."

It also helps you calibrate your reaction. For example, if someone attacks you unfairly, you can meet with him later and then say something like:

"Let's put this behind us for the sake of the group. But think hard before you attempt to demean what I have to say. The next time I won't be so polite."

Or if you want to get your point across less directly, "When you disagree with me, try being civil and we'll be fine."

On the other hand if you want to get more forceful, "I went easy on you, which is more than you can say. But be clear on this: I only do that once."

Reardon punctures the myth that comebacks are all about nasty put-downs that deflate the other side and leave him/her in tears. For one thing, sometimes the best comeback is "I stand corrected," or "I'm sorry -- sometimes my enthusiasm comes across as impatience, and this seems to be one of those times." For another thing, even when you're not in the wrong, the other side may not be a villain either: It's all too easy to feel offended at something even when the other person meant no insult. So before deploying that blistering rejoinder, step back and ask yourself just how offensive her point really was, and how likely she really intended to insult you.

Not to mention that every conversation has a context. You might want to respond one way to a co-worker who just thinks he's your boss, quite another way to your actual boss and yet a third way to your friend. And whether or not others are watching -- and if so, how many and who they are -- matters.

That's why Comebacks at Work pushes you to develop your own repertoire of responses...and emphasizes adjusting not only your words but also your tone of voice, gestures and body language to each situation. And it actually teaches you how to develop your gut feelings, so you get (1) early warnings for such situations and (2) a sense of what kind of comeback -- and how to deliver it -- will work best.

Also, Comebacks at Work helps you overcome one of the biggest causes of "staircase wit" (aka l'esprit de l'escalier): Brain freeze. Among other things, it gives you things to say that, while not conceding anything, will buy you some time to figure out the situation.

Finally, Comebacks at Work is systematic. It gives you (1) an R-List of ten categories for picking an appropriate type of comeback (and Rebuke and Retaliate are the last two for a reason), (2) a quick list of five questions for analytical people to ask themselves to decide whether a firm response is warranted and (3) a set of ten questions to quickly assess what's going on and how best to respond in the moment.

Some time after reading this book, I replied on Facebook to an acquaintance. His response to me: "It's a joke, son." I figured he didn't mean to insult me, and that's not a really offensive thing -- but I was just a wee bit annoyed. So since he's over a decade my senior, I decided to not argue about his use of the word "son," and instead I replied: "OK, Daddy-O!"

Bottom line: Comebacks at Work is *not* a TV dinner. It's a cookbook for developing your own comeback skills. And it's one of my go-to communication guides.
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on October 3, 2013
I read everything Kathleen Kelly Reardon writes. Her books on business are excellent. Comebacks at Work is filled with many useful ways to handle people and situations at work without sulking, getting mad, or trying to get even. The book gives helpful responses to aggressive people an teaches you how to stick up for yourself without losing your cool.
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on October 8, 2015
Some people have a natural ability to respond with "quick thinking" words that are always "right".

Unfortunately, I am not, and have never been one of those people--I am an introvert (not shy), but not good with well thought out responses in the moment.

If you are like me, read this book now, and save yourself some sleepless nights over what you might have said (or not said).

My last few positions were filled with "politics"-some of it was just plain mean and ugly. It seemed to me that the hard working and honest people got the short end every time. Knowing some of what this book contained might have given me more flexibility.

I finally wised up to my own responsibilities in some of this, and thinking ahead of potential "situations" I began discussing potential responses with a close friend who is excellent at this kind of thing ("critical conversations was the code we used when I wanted to talk about something with her). Had I read this book, I would have focused my intellect on my responses and probably done better.

I am articulate, well read, educated, but I'm just not great in real time responses, and good "comebacks" are very difficult for me.

Consequently I feel I get taken advantage of. sometimes. Now I realize that even in everyday life, (even casually) our words and our responses matter. I have come to think of these as "critical conversations". I have to be prepared for them to get the outcome I want. And -- situations manifest all the time-- in restaurants, at sporting events, at the doctor's office, in the grocery store.

I think this book is relevant formuch more than "work". For me, it is making me pause and think of all kinds of situations -- even though retired, I deal with a lot of people throughout the week. And there is my family--how do you handle "inappropriate" requests and off the cuff comments from friends, neighbors, acquaintances, and ..."me centered" . family members? I've already learned a couple of really good and innocuous comebacks to snide remarks.

After reading this book, I am starting to feel like saying that catch line for the COPD medicine: "watch out, piggies!". I am rereading it, so I can make some notes and have this in my repertoire. I am taking some of my own life back.

Some of the things this book covers have happened to me personally; I'm sure they've happened to most of those reading this review. The question is: what do you do?

First, you should begin to evaluate your work (and life) situations to see where you are deficient (this book helps you do that). Then I think you should "practice" (yes, I mean in front of a mirror) some of these comebacks.

Sometimes you know a situation or a conversation is coming--if you know this, and you read the possible ways to deal with it, you can be more prepared. Then you can kind of "rehearse" (I call it "creative visualization") it and come up with things the other person might say. At least you won't be fumbling for a response. And if you don't realize that some people are VERY good at putting you on the defensive (and they well aware of it) then you definitely need to read this book.

This book helps you to know what to say: There is another book on a similar topic that I have also found extremely helpful: LifeCode by Dr. Phil. Dr. Phil's book helps you recognize the kinds of people you are dealing with and then shows you how to build "circles of trust" (my term, not his) to keep people from taking advantage of you.

These books articulate what we know but can't describe. More than that, they show specific means to stay balanced and focused.

One negative, but NOT the author's fault. LIke every Kindle book I've owned, I can't make the diagrams larger. There is at least one decision tree diagram in this book, and I can't make it out.
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on March 22, 2013
Bullies watch out! This book gives concrete examples on how to handle various situations. I've read other books on the subject, but they never told me techniques to use. I'm one of those people who need examples.

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on February 16, 2011
This is a great book on communication, not just in the workplace, but everywhere. It teaches you how to evaluate the right kind of response to reach your goal. Witty comebacks are great, but they don't always get you what you want in the long run, and I've found the exercises and tips in this book helpful in improving my relationships.
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