The ‘commsplanation’: duff advice from the non comms colleague

Nov 23, 2020

I made up a word: “commsplanation’.

Have you ever been commsplained? It’s where someone who is less qualified than you, or less experienced, explains something to you.

Commsplanation: office scene shows man saying "we should use Snapchat and Yammer for this campaign' and the woman says 'thanks for the advice on my own area of expertise'.They get hold of the tiniest amount of knowledge, and suddenly they’re giving you opinions so misinformed, so utterly clueless that you want to boot them up the butt.

Take a deep breath my comms friends.

It’s called Dunning-Kruger effect, and unfortunately it’s human nature.

In a nutshell, this phenomenon describes how we are all inclined to think we know more than we actually do about topics we dabble in.

We humans often get hold of some information –  and we know so little that we don’t know what we don’t know.

So we think we have a better grasp of the subject than we actually do.

It’s kind of the opposite of imposter syndrome.

Hearing a commsplanation is exceptionally annoying

Knowing why your colleagues do it doesn’t make it less irritating when they come up with hare-brained suggestions about TikTok, or excellent advice about using social media to do more storytelling (duh, like I’d never thought of that!).

We bring SO much value and many people just don’t get it!

For instance, those of us who manage social media often do the work of ten people!

Anyway, try not to take a commsplanation personally.

I used to feel attacked by their comments, like they thought I was no good at my job.

Then I felt frustrated because it was clear they have no idea of the skill and complexity of my job.

Now I try to understand, and know that professional respect is hard to come by when people are busy doing their own work.

See it as a sign you’re a true expert!

I know I probably do it when I get excited about something I heard on a podcast, or when I spout my political opinions on policy areas I reckon I could handle better than our government does.

So let’s all try to be compassionate and let down these commsplaining clowns down, respectfully and kindly.

Then pat yourself on the back, because you’re skilled AND empathetic!

Last thing while you’re here- do you know about our Social Media Comms Academy?  It’s bloody brilliant, and here I am showing you around for 6 minutes.


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Hel Reynolds

Hel Reynolds

Author of this post

Hel is social media trainer and boss of Comms Creatives. She has been working in comms since 2005, and has been brushing up her expertise in social media for brands since the good old days of MySpace. She also draws the Comms Cartoons, and is usually attached to a mug of coffee.

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