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Kathleen Kelley Reardon

Professor Emerita, University of Southern California Marshall School of Business

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 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 (

Kathleen is a signature blogger at Huffington Post (since 2005) and also blogs at her website (

As Rolling Stone magazine apologized not once, but twice, for its article last month about a young woman who had allegedly been raped on the University of Virginia campus, we witnessed something rarely seen these days: UVA President Teresa Sullivan, took the high road in responding to the fiasco.
At this time of year social interaction increases, including where many of us work.  With pressure to meet year-end goals, tension may be in the air and made worse by more meetings than anyone wants to attend.  This climate offers an opportunity to assess if what you say is actually being heard — to examine when and whether your comments are talked over, interrupted or even ignored.
Every person who ventures into the company of others engages in persuasion.  Granted, at times it may be annoying to engage in conversation that requires you to develop effective arguments, but if such conversations are on the wane or largely absent, then important relationships can slip toward reliance on manipulation, coercion or even toward a lack of any significant communication at all.