The doctor is telling you that you have this condition but the words he is using may as well be Greek. You fail to understand the majority of what he is telling you and therefore fail to comprehend what you need to know. He is using medical terminology. Words that to him, make perfect sense but all they do for you, is up your anxiety level.
This highly educated professional has forgotten that he is talking to an average Joe, someone who has trouble pronouncing Ibuprofen. What are common words in the medical field, are rare in regular conversation circles.
Yet you would never say that the doctor knows too much. In fact, you hope he knows lots and lots. What you would say is that he has gotten so comfortable in his area of expertise that he may have forgotten how to speak plainly to the patients he has spend years educating himself to help.
He knows it all, but can he effectively communicate it?
I know a lady who is a very talented, knitter. She can stitch the most gossamer of lace patterns and makes her work look easy. I remember how she once got so annoyed when she met another knitter who was enjoying great success from the sales of her hand knit scarves. Her handy-work was rudimentary at best, yet her work was selling like gangbusters while the highly skilled knitter’s work was not.
What the lace knitting lady was missing was that the simply knitted scarves appealed to a larger sampling of customers. She had become so skilled at knitting that she had become a snob in her craft.
She knew her craft, but did she know her customers?
It’s what you learn after you know it all, that counts.
The same could be said for why sometimes we fail to succeed with the dreams we set out for ourselves.
We start off by thinking we must master all the skills needed before we can hang out our shingle, or compete in the same arena as the pro’s. But when we get there and we know all there is to know, we have missed the most important training of all. The part where we understand that the folks we are most liking going to work with are starting at the beginning and don’t understand what we are talking about.
The basics may be painfully obvious to you, because you grasped the concepts eons ago but to someone who has never encountered the subject, it is foreign and confusing and maybe even difficult.
What you are doing, is falsely assuming that everyone knows at least the basic of what you know. Making that presumption can tint your well meaning offering with a hue of superiority and the title of “Know It All” is not far off.
We have all heard of the KISS method: Keep It Simple, Stupid. Or the nicer version: Keep It Simple, Silly. This is the best skill every professional can learn. It is one thing to be an expert in your field, but to be able to translate your knowledge so that the average guy can grasp it, is to truly be a master.
I know I’ve had to re-learn this lesson many times and have figured out, over the years, to start with a question or two before I break into a long explanation.
By making a few inquiries, I not only save myself the frustration of having to re-explain myself but I also show respect by offering those in my company a chance to express their own knowledge first, or lack of, to the subject we are discussing.
In this age of information, it is so easy to find a group online who is only too happy to discuss the minutia of your favourite topics. The esoteric and the trivial all have a place on the internet. Modern society is spoiled with a wealth of information to educate our minds.
But to succeed with that knowledge in a way that is authentic, appealing to all people in a way that is simple to understand, is best.
I always think of the super star singers who go out every night on stage and sing the same songs over and over again. Sure they would love to play only their newest songs and showcase how their talent has progressed but they know that it is the old favourites that everyone has come to hear. So they sprinkle in a few new songs amongst the playlist but they belt out the hits as fresh as the first time they sung them.
They’re professionals after all, at the top of their game. They understand how to appeal. They keep it simple and offer what the average fan wants.
Being an “expert” and being a “know it all” are vastly different titles. One understands how to communicate so everyone understands and the other communicates to be heard.
To achieve success in your chosen field, which one do you think you should be?
7 thoughts on “Expert, Or Know It All. Which One Are You?”
You’ve made some great points, and you reminded me of something Blake Shelton said to a contestant on The Voice. He told the guy that it doesn’t matter how many times he’s covered a song. When you’re singing for an audience, every time has to be like the first time, because there’s someone out there who paid good money to hear THAT song, and they want it to be as good live as it was when they first fell in love with it on the radio. He said when you step onto the stage and you sing a song, you’re singing it for that person, every night, every time. Makes sense.
How true, that is good advice for us all. Thanks for sharing you thoughts 😁
You need to know what you know and how to explain to someone who doesn’t know anything. You also need to know what you don’t know and be confident enough to say that, too.
Absolutely! That’s how folks get themselves in trouble and lose credibility. Great point. 😁 Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
You make an excellent point–and I really liked the knitter story. Many times I’ve forgotten that what I know and think of as “basic” is nothing short of miraculous to others. And vice versa. My husband is exceptionally good at Excel. I’m not. He says things like, “Just use Control F1” or something like that, and I find myself saying, “Huh?” To him it’s basic, to me, its Clingon wrapped in a Zen Koan. I think knowing the right way to communicate with others takes listening with more than our ears. I explained my job to someone recently and I could see his eyes glaze over, though his head nodded like he understood. Maybe he just wasn’t interested, but I think it’s more that I used goofy jargon instead of a much more general term. If we care about communicating or selling the fruits of our labor, we have to be expert at piquing the interest of others through finding that simple common ground. You explained it beautifully. Thank you!
Thank you very much. I use the think that KISS acronym was sappy but the older I get the I realize that simple is where it’s at.
You make some valid points here, Diana. We need to make sure our customers see the value in our products and the only way to do that is by communicating effectively. Great post.