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Core Skill: Communication

August 23, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

When challenged by confusion or uncertainty we seek answers from those beyond our level of understanding. Recognizing our own limitations, we consider our limited sphere and look to those whose “bubble of expertise” extends beyond our own. In essence, our questions seek their own answers.

Perhaps human kinds greatest asset is its diversity of expertise. Howard Gardner’s theory of “Multiple Intelligences” always strikes me as the greatest defense or source of pride for anyone who has ever felt insignificant or stupid. Gardner argues that each human being has an individualized expertise and a skill set that effectively makes him/her capable of expertise in a field. The work is ours to complete, but biologically each of us possesses the tools needed to be an expert at something.

Herein lies my question: What is an expert? Often we unload our questions onto our experts and chore them with educating us. We expect answers from experts because, well, they’re the experts. Expectation precedes the expert and our very search for answers directs us to these figures. Expertise is an earned title with varied avenues of receivership. Some are classified as experts merely by having experience of documentation of extensive study. Though possessive of the knowledge we seek, not every expert is capable of communicating that information in a way that connects with the audience. Many experts are locked up by an inability to communicate with those beneath his or her cognitive abilities. These are common limitations but factors that hinder the role of expertise and create an important lesson for us to remember: the endless depths of human limitation.

Paradoxically, our own limitations seem to seep deeper as we become experts. Extensive study can make us experts whose possession of information and understanding of complex ideas leave us a rare breed of understanding. Such expertise may dramatically exceed any other human being but an inability to communicate this expertise may leave our expertise limited to our own brains. What use is our expertise if we cannot communicate it? Suddenly our hard work becomes a selfish exercise in futility. Without the ability to communicate our knowledge our greatest achievements are merely personal endeavors and trophies for a personal hall-of-fame.

Communication is the key skill essential for all human functioning. Garder’s multiple intelligences may ring true but if we are unable to communicate our unique skill set we are inherently useless to society. Great minds may vary and society may benefit immensely from our diverse skill sets but if we are unable to share what we know we face even greater dangers. A failure to share information eliminates the evolution of information and great blossoming that comes from sharing ideas and perspectives. Expertise is a closet of understanding whose only breath of fresh air comes with the process of sharing. Communication is the means of sharing and the essential procedure by which humans grow and extend our expertise to even greater discoveries.

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