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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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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."
"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."
"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."
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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.
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.
Unfortunately many organizations are pathologically political and one must learn how to survive, but also how to win in an environment polluted with political sharks.
I highly recommend it.
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