Specialization is the name of the game today. Even something like online marketing, which was once something of a specialization itself, is now broken down into, among other things, e-mail marketing, social media marketing and SEO marketing, which is in turn broken down into white hat and black hat SEO and… you get the drift.
One of the interesting side effects of all this complexity in the universe is that very often you can find yourself talking to people who don’t understand what you’re saying. And vice versa.
Needless to say, this can send the wheels of commerce down a bumpy road indeed, and sometimes lead to a total communication breakdown.
But communication between people with varying levels of expertise is possible. Just keep in mind these five key points:
Remember What You’re There for – There’s a reason you’re having this conversation, whether you’re the technical expert or someone relatively unschooled. Stay focused on your shared goals, such as evaluating your marketing campaign’s success.
Pretend You’re in a Foreign Country – Just as you wouldn’t fault an Italian for not speaking French, try not to think less of a colleague who doesn’t speak High Finance or an Accountant who doesn’t speak Marketing. You’ll find it easier to communicate across borders if you approach your divide without judgment.
You’ve Got Nothing to Prove – Sometimes, when people have different levels of expertise, those who have it like to flaunt it. Try not to. Every time you pull rank this way you make communication harder.
So What if You’re Not Multilingual – This is the inverse of the previous tip. There’s no need to apologize because you’re not an expert at computers, car repair, corporate finance and whatever else you might have to deal with in some way. Being comfortable with the limits of your knowledge can help you benefit from the expertise of others.
Use Acronyms Like Pet Names – Chances are, you, your family and old friends have lots of goofy names for each other. Would you use them around strangers? Probably not on purpose. Acronyms can help colleagues in the same profession communicate quickly, but they’ll alienate anyone who isn’t part of your work family. Try using this rule of thumb – the next time you’re tempted to use an acronym, imagine that you’re really saying “Sugarfooty,” or something equally personal and goofy. If you wouldn’t use that term around strangers, don’t use the acronym. You’ll be surprised how much that eases communication between people with different levels of expertise.
by Danielle Dresden