Thursday, March 31, 2011

Why the best communicators are not esoteric subject matter experts

I hear things like this all the time.

So often that I don't want to repeat the words lest someone recognize themselves in the quote.

But in general, the conversation goes as follows:

"I know my subject matter and you are not going to tell me how to communicate about it."


"You're the communication expert, and I need your help - but I know my field so don't tell me what to do."


"Seeking a great communicator. Must be a subject matter expert in (esoteric to most people)."

Last but not least:

"Seeking communication expert. Must be a whiz at (SEO) (graphic design) (Flash and Dreamweaver) (Drupal)." Etc.

The root of the problem here is a serious misconception that communication is not an expertise in and of itself.

This is so wrong!!!!

Communication is an entire, huge field of thinking that is incredibly complex and incredibly hard to master.

People learn communication in school, on the job, at home, and in life. And they never stop learning.

A person who has mastered communication principles is a subject matter expert in their own right.

Any other skills they have are supplemental. Any other skills they have are subordinate.

In fact, if you try to get a communication expert who has a dominant mastery in any other field, you will probably end up with a master of the other field who doesn't really understand communication.

There are enough experts in technical subject matter. And they don't know beans about communicating.

There are enough whizzes. And you can't get them off their devices long enough for a handshake.

Get a communication expert. Team them up with the other experts in your office.

Respect the communication expert.

This person will ultimately save you time, money, and wasted effort.

Great communicators who are part of a collaborative team can generate nearly endless positive results for your organization.

Don't fight their expertise - welcome it.

Good luck!


Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D.

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