Conversation involves taking turns. The challenge comes from the fact that we don’t follow the same pace in taking turns. Something as seemingly simple as taking turns in talk involves a number of subtle signals, indicating that one person has finished — or is nearly finished — and so another person’s turn may begin. How long each of us waits or pauses between turns is affected by our culture, family patterns, ethnicity, the social context, and other factors. So, is it any wonder that most of us, at times, find it difficult to edge into conversations?
How do corporations that have perpetuated dysfunctional, despicable, and illegal cultures turn those around? Is it even possible?
Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced this week that five major banks have agreed to plead guilty to felony charges and will pay $2.5 billion in fines. Those that do not change their corporate cultures will be further penalized, which leads to the question: How do corporations that have perpetuated dysfunctional, despicable, and illegal cultures turn those around? Is it even possible?
Whether right or wrong, eloquent or simple, if your ideas are not phrased in ways that encourage others to listen and learn, they won’t do either. Even Robert Redford, actor, producer, director and founder of the Sundance Institute, doesn’t rely on his fame to achieve his goals. Some years back, he shared this advice in the Harvard Business Review:
Meanness is not exactly ebola, but it chips away at our quality of life. When we're the recipients, there are comeback options to halt its spread.
Speaking with CNN Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour this week, former U.S. President Bill Clinton joked that his granddaughter has made him “almost totally ineffective in politics.” Why? One reason: Politics can be mean. Clinton argues that we need to embrace our common humanity, to realize that we are all over 99 percent alike and that our less-than-1 percent difference is wreaking a good deal of havoc.
Kathleen Kelley Reardon is Professor Emerita of Management at University of Southern California Marshall School of Business.
She earned her Ph.D. summa cum laude and with distinction at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst after receiving her BA degree with honors from University of Connecticut at Storrs. Kathleen is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi and Mortar Board.
Her primary areas of scholarly interest have been leadership communication, persuasion, politics in the workplace, negotiation and interpersonal communication. Public Opinion Quarterly described her first book, Persuasion in Practice, as a landmark contribution to the field.
Kathleen has taught negotiation, leadership and politics in the MBA, Executive MBA, and International MBA. For 15 years, she served on the USC Preventive Medicine faculty, developing interventions aimed at changing health habits among high-risk populations. She also served as associate director with Warren Bennis of the USC Leadership Institute.
She has authored 10 books and numerous articles, including three for The Harvard Business Review. Her 2001 book The Secret Handshake: Mastering the Politics of the Business Inner Circle (Currency, Doubleday) became an Amazon.com nonfiction and business best seller. It was followed by The Skilled Negotiator (Jossey-Bass, 2004), It’s All Politics: Winning in a World Where Hard Work and Talent Aren’t Enough (Currency, Doubleday, 2005), Childhood Denied: Ending the Nightmare of Child Abuse and Neglect (Sage, 2008), and Comebacks at Work: Using Conversation to Master Confrontation (Harper Business, 2010).
Her first novel, Shadow Campus, is an inside look at the politics of academia, a mystery-thriller and a love story. Forbes described it as a “masterful debut.” The sequel is underway for publication in 2015.
Kathleen was awarded the 2013 Humanitarian Award by the University of Connecticut Alumni Association based on her contributions to underserved groups, especially in originating and working to develop college prep academies for foster teens (www.firststar.org).
Kathleen is a signature blogger at Huffington Post (since 2005) and also blogs at her website (www.kathleenkelleyreardon.com).