Summary of Comebacks at Work

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Find the words you have been dying to say when people challenge you and receive the respect you deserve. Kathleen Kelley Reardon (writing with Christopher T. Noblet) offers insightful tips and tools that can help you respond more effectively – and without hesitation – to snide comments from insulting, bossy or troublesome co-workers. If you don’t feel ready to fight with office bullies, don’t worry. Reardon also provides a variety of less confrontational ways to deal with them. You may find a few of her ripostes a bit unrealistic or harsh – though often she suggests a tough answer only in response to someone else’s provocative meanness. Overall, most of her examples are useful, helpful and effective in fighting that sinking feeling of not know what to say – until hours later. getAbstract recommends her behavioral insights, real-life anecdotes and snappy comebacks.

About the Authors

Huffington Post writer Kathleen Kelly Reardon is a full professor at the Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California. Her books include The Secret Handshake, It’s All Politics and The Skilled Negotiator. Christopher T. Noblet is a writer and editor.



Are You Quick on the Comeback?

How honed are your comeback skills? Consider how you might respond to these types of people:

  • “The spoiler for an argument” – To frustrate those who want to show their superiority, incline to agree with them. “I see what you mean...I hadn’t thought of it that way.” You can also use their comments against them or respond sarcastically.
  • “The critic” – In 1999, a New York Times reporter called American painter Norman Rockwell a “mere illustrator instead of an artist.” Rockwell turned the insult into a compliment. He unexpectedly found merit in the criticism, saying, “To us, illustration was an ennobling profession...with a great tradition, a profession I could be proud of.” He. Accepting an insult as something positive is a great way to defuse it.
  • “The blamer” – Ted Turner, CNN’s founder, used to own the Atlanta Braves baseball team. In his memoir, he admits he did a lousy job running the team. After one awful season, Rankin Smith, owner of the Atlanta Falcons football team, asked Turner, “What does it feel like to...

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