Beware the self-proclaimed expert

man with lightbulb as head

If someone is proclaiming they are an expert in their field, more often than not, they’re telling fibs.

As I wrote the words for the heading to this article it made me shudder. I hate – with a passion – people who describe themselves as experts. I believe that calling yourself an expert is a rather arrogant thing to do.

I know that if you look up the Oxford dictionary it will tell you that an expert is “a person who is very knowledgeable about or skilful in a particular area”, which in itself seems reasonable.

But using the term expert seems such a superior statement, a bit like calling yourself a “guru” adorned with your white robes!

Now I have been advising clients in ERP, business intelligence and procurement technology software solutions for over 18 and I have an accounting background. However I would never describe myself as an expert and much prefer the term specialist.

Don’t get me wrong, I think there are plenty of smart, knowledgeable professionals in all industries. But what really troubles me is the way that the term “expert” gets bandied around.

The term is used in thousands of LinkedIn profiles and Twitter bios – I always wonder how these professionals became perfect and how there came to be so many smart people around!

To me, an expert is someone who doesn’t make mistakes. Perhaps people like this exist. I just haven’t met them yet!

It is a particularly widely used term by organisations who carry out SEO or offer social media advice, but from my own understanding of the subject matter (not that I am even a specialist in the subject!) these fields involve many variables and there is no secret to you becoming a master of either SEO or LinkedIn!

Yes there are specialists that can help you achieve better , but come on, “an expert” is an extremely bold claim.

I often hear the term from a range of business coaches and business speakers at events and again it instantly turns me off.

If you listen to really successful industry specialists they would never introduce themselves as experts, but would be far more modest. So perhaps next times you read the term “expert in . . .” you should give this some thought, as many of the so called experts I have listened to I would struggle to describe as even knowledgeable in their proclaimed speciality, never mind an expert!

So beware the expert . . . do they even exist?

3 thoughts on “Beware the self-proclaimed expert

  1. River Bradshaw Milnes

    I agree that the term “expert” has become somewhat butchered over the years and in reality should be only be used as per the destructions contained in the english dictionary.

    The term expert is often used by those who wish to create an air of authority in a particular area and can be mixed and matched with any other form of authority projection, such as “specialist” “savant” or “guru”.

    The problem we all face is that the marketplace is more and more competitive every day and it is very hard to be noticed amongst all the other “expert” bloggers who are writing dull, meaningless articles, purely to create more “content” for their web site, so as to rank higher in a search engine.

    Reply

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