HarperCollins Speakers Bureau

Kathleen Kelley Reardon, Ph.D.

Internationally Recognized Expert on Workplace Communication and Politics


  • Comebacks at Work: Using Conversation to Master Confrontation and Never be at a Loss for Words Again
  • Comebacks at Work for Women
  • How to Deal with Bullies at Work
  • Politics and Power at Work
  • Comebacks for Kids: How to Stop Bullies in Their Tracks
  • Communication and Confrontation
  • The Art of Negotiation
  • Knowing What to Say to Doctors: Getting the Best Medical Care


Rhode Island

Kathleen Kelley Reardon, Ph.D., Professor of Management and Organization at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business has served on the faculty of the MBA, Executive MBA, and International MBA Programs, and on the faculty of Preventive Medicine. The co-author (with Christopher T. Noblet) of Comebacks at Work: Using Conversation to Master Confrontation (HarperBusiness), she is a leading authority on persuasion, politics in the workplace, negotiation, and gender issues in communication. Reardon has been a keynote speaker, executive coach, and consultant for such organizations as The Conference Board, The Los Angeles Town Hall Executive Series, Avery Dennison, Loewe, Steuben Glass, CIGNA, Epson, Hewlett Packard, Accountants Overload, AT&T, Toyota, IBM Watson Research Center, Moog Aircraft, SONY Entertainment, NASA Jet Propulsion Labs, Siemens Corp., NewsCorp, Pfizer, and The Young Presidents Organization. One of HuffingtonPost.com's signature and top bloggers whose writing is frequently picked up and featured on Yahoo, she has appeared on ABC's Good Morning America, NBC's Nightly News and The Today Show, Bloomberg, and a host of other media outlets. She is the author of eight books, including The Secret Handshake, It's All Politics, and The Skilled Negotiator.

In her thought-provoking, practical "Comebacks at Work" Reardon shows audiences how to break free of predictable ways of acting and speaking, take control of how they are treated at work, and ensure that difficult, repetitive, and avoidable situations never occur again. She explains that how we are treated at work is mostly our responsibility, and then arms us with the tools we need to take control. As the author of The Secret Handshake and It's All Politics, Reardon brings a unique sensitivity to the often unspoken world of office politics and the spoken conversations that shape it. She argues that politically astute people at work recognize that most of us are predictable in conversation and, therefore, easily manipulated. By increasing our conversational intelligence and using better comebacks, we can break free of our stale scripts and expected actions and instead effectively manage difficult situations so they don't occur again. This is a key tenet of Reardon's useful and empowering "75% Rule" - namely, that we are all at least 75 percent responsible for how we are treated because we can learn to influence the communication choices of others.

Crucially, Reardon explains that we need a range of comebacks because - while many of the situations she describes may appear common - converging factors, including relative power, age, sex, personality type, location of conversation, and means of response available (e-mail, phone, in person), make any given conversation extraordinary. Unlike many speakers in the field, Reardon importantly conveys that there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all responses to these dilemmas. As such, she helps audiences understand why some responses don't work and then assists them in developing a personalized repertoire of responses that do, a plan for strategically using them, and the skills needed to package them for maximum efficiency. Envisioning workplace conversation as a semantic chess game, Reardon not only engagingly teaches audiences how to react to difficult situations, but also how to think ahead and launch preemptive strikes that prevent them from happening in the first place.

Reardon served as Director of the Presidential Fellows Program of the USC Leadership Institute and also as the Institute's Associate Director. Her co-authored paper Leadership Styles For The Five Stages of Radical Change is a tutorial for the Air Force and used by businesses, government, and the military to determine which leader types are best suited to various demands of changing environments. She has presented and published on issues facing military families and military leadership issues particular to women. She has also advised the U.S. Office of The Chief of Protocol on international business customs.

She served on the prestigious Harvard Business Review McKinsey Award Panel and the Editorial Boards of several academic journals. She was elected to the Board of the International Communication Association and served on the Annenberg EC2 Incubator Selection Board and was co-principal investigator on the feasibility study that launched the Starbright (now Starlight) Foundation headed by Steven Spielberg, which links critically and terminally ill children and their families to online education, entertainment, social networking, and social support. She served on the Marshall School of Business Dean's Advisory Council, The Employers Group Board of Directors, and the Founding Advisory Board of First Star, a nonprofit organization devoted to promoting the rights of children.

Reardon, Distinguished Fellow of First Star, introduced the concept of on-campus foster care currently being developed by First Star in collaboration with UCLA, USC, and eventually universities across the U.S. This project provides children in foster care, who would otherwise not consider a college education, contact with people who will encourage them to identify their talents and to reveal opportunities they never thought possible.

Reardon is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Connecticut (B.A.) and received her M.A. and Ph.D. summa cum laude and with distinction from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. The National Communication Association selected her work on communication development for the Top Dissertation Award. She has been a Visiting Professor at Stanford University, Visiting Research Professor in Philosophy and Business Information Systems at University College Cork, and was named Distinguished Research Scholar by the Irish Management Institute during her sabbatical there. Her work continues to focus on the role of communication in individual and organizational success.

Reardon lives in Jamestown, Rhode Island.

Praise for Dr. Kathleen Kelley Reardon's Work:

"Top Blogger" at Huffingtonpost.com
-- Arianna Huffington

"A lively, encouraging book, bound to banish l'esprit d'escalier forever."
-- Publishers Weekly on Comebacks at Work

"A landmark contribution to the field."
-- Public Opinion Quarterly on Persuasion in Practice

On The Secret Handshake:

"You owe it to yourself to read this book..."
-- USA Today

"I read a little bit and I was hooked."
-- Boston Globe

"A gold mine of strategy and information."
-- Dallas Morning News

"A book I love... A great, great book."
-- Faith Middleton, WNPR on Comebacks at Work