My car has a helpful safety feature, and it’s a safety feature that might also benefit leaders in their communications prowess.

The safety feature on my car is lane change alert. Whenever a vehicle or other hazard is in my blind spot, a warning light flashes on my side mirror. If I do start to move my car toward the other lane, the alert emits several beeps as an audible warning of danger. I then quickly pull my car back into my lane so that I can avoid a collision.

As communicators, we may be tempted at times to “change lanes,” that is, to speak, write, post or otherwise communicate on a topic that is clearly not in our field of knowledge. When those temptations occur, we should imagine an inner flashing light and audible beep so that we don’t veer off where we should not go.

While we all have a wellspring of knowledge and experience from which we can draw, it’s impossible to be an expert on every topic. Sometimes that truth is hard to admit. Just as a mechanic shouldn’t answer medical questions, and a medical doctor shouldn’t answer car transmission inquiries, so too leaders must stay in their lane—stay in their area of expertise.

Any time we veer out of our lane of expertise, a collision is bound to occur. The results can be a dangerous pileup of misunderstanding, confusion and miscommunication. Stay in your lane!