There is a term, ‘unconscious competence’ which is explained as becoming so skilled at something that you are able to do it without thinking about it. A simple example of this might be the use of your email system. You quickly know how to open the program, open an email, reply (or reply all), draft an email, etc. You’ve done these things so often that doing them has become second nature.

Now, think about your area of expertise. Think about all of the time you have invested learning about that area, keeping abreast of advances in that area, and working in that area. For me, that area is learning and development, more specifically, adult learning and development. If I were to approach conversations with my clients using the vernacular of the field, I would likely lose them. For many, they do not care what the theoretical foundations are that might be behind their behavior. They simply want to understand how they might begin to address it.

It is important that we view our communication through the eyes of our stakeholders (the person we are communicating with). As a leader, there may be a variety of constituencies that we need to communicate with. For each of these audiences, focus on what’s in it for them:

Why should they care?

How will it help them to achieve their goals?

What pain point will it eliminate for them?

Answering these questions will help you reframe your message from one that is founded in your expertise, in your language, to one that is based on your stakeholders’ interests and understanding of the topic at hand.

As an example, it probably doesn’t matter much to you that this theory of the hierarchy of competence comes out of management training literature. Likely, you care more that this framework may help you to become a more effective communicator.