Communicators: Know When To Shut Up

"Big Mouth" by Hiba Tim via (Creative Commons)

One of the more annoying things communicators tend to say is:

"If Only I Had A Seat At The Table."

Loosely translated this means something like--
  • "I am so smart about communication things..." (because I've written about fifty thousand factsheets)
  • "I know so much about how people RELATE to one another..." (based on instinct, opinion and the latest survey results from the Partnership for Public Service published in Federal Times)
  • "If only the bosses would LISTEN to me..." (wah, wah)
I've heard communicators make this complaint in person, on the Internet, and in numerous books. And I honestly can't understand the dire need communicators have to tell businesspeople what to do.

Lawyers don't tell businesspeople what to do. They simply offer advice. Because lawyers know:

Specialists know their specialty.

Communicators know communication.

Businesspeople know the business.

Now before you jump down my throat and say I've betrayed the communication's blue wall of silence consider this:

Even if you have the know-how -- do you have the stomach to run a business?
  • Will your family tolerate you up at 3 a.m. checking on the state of the servers?
  • Are you capable of hiring people you don't like, and firing people that you do, just for the sake of productivity?
  • Could you handle your face on the cover of Fast Company with a headline like "What Went Wrong With Company X?"
If your honest answer is "yes, I do want to run the business" then you probably should be running one -- rather than serving as its communicator.

If however you understand that your place is to support those who do run the business, then you have to let them run it -- without second-guessing everything they do.

While it's true that businesspeople frequently don't understand the HOW of communication, they do respect its importance and specialization as a field.

It's important that communicators mutually respect that businesspeople know their subject matter.

And then stick to their knitting.


Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal is an author, independent brand researcher, and adjunct marketing professor with 20 years of varied experience. An avid researcher and prolific, creative writer, Dr. Blumenthal's interests span communication, marketing, qualitative media content analysis, political rhetoric, propaganda, leadership, management, organizational development, and more. An engaged citizen, she has for several years worked to raise awareness around child sex trafficking and the dangers of corruption at @drdannielle on Twitter. You can find her articles at Medium, and, and she frequently answers questions on Quora. All opinions are Dr. Blumenthal's own.