The ability to communicate effectively has fast become one of the most important soft skills to further your accounting career and even more so at this time. Being able to sell your ideas, negotiate and liaise with stakeholders and partners, and understand the needs of your team is all about communication. Whether it’s writing succinct emails, chairing effective meetings with clear outcomes or discussing strategies with the accounting team, here is our advice for how to improve communication skills at work.
When communicating in the workplace, you are usually aiming to inform, persuade or motivate an audience and strong communication skills will help you to convey that in a way that is engaging, drives action and fosters a level of trust and confidence.
Developing your professional communication skills can take time, but it can be done successfully. Try these four key tips on how to communicate effectively:
1. Know your audience
Understanding the needs of your audience is the key to effective communication. Before any interaction, think about who your audience is – knowing their priorities can help you frame your message appropriately and allow you to adjust your tone and style to suit the occasion.
Remember, if you are an Accountant working in a business partnering capacity, you will need to think carefully about how you can effectively communicate accounting concepts and help non-finance stakeholders in a way they will understand and appreciate.
2. Select the appropriate medium
It may seem obvious, but the medium used for contacting someone should be appropriate for the message. Emails are often the default choice in the modern workplace but can be easily overused and the tone can often be misconstrued. Remember: emails work for distributing detailed or non-urgent information, but if you need immediate feedback or if the message is potentially sensitive, verbal communication, such as over the phone or face-to-face, will work best.
3. Be specific and concise
When crafting your message, be as clear and concise as possible so your audience immediately understands what action needs to be taken. Before you speak or hit the reply button, think about what the purpose is and see if you can phrase it differently or use fewer words in order to articulate the central message as clearly as possible. This can be a difficult skill to master, but if you choose your words carefully and sparingly you can make a great impact.
4. Learn how to listen
The best communicators often aren’t the people doing all the talking – active listening is another important aspect of effective communication. If you are really listening to what the other person is saying rather than waiting for your turn to speak or thinking about your reply, you can build greater empathy with your colleagues and clients and better understand their perspectives. It’s particularly valuable in situations that may be complex or emotionally charged as it can help you avoid misunderstandings.
To practice active listening, try to keep your mind focused on the message and repeat the key points back to the other person when they are finished to confirm that you’ve understood. You can then identify any areas where you may need clarification and ask follow-up questions, before formulating your answer.
Effective communication is not all about being a confident public speaker or being able to network in a room of strangers. It’s about building trust and empathy with your audience, understanding their needs and then tailoring your message to ensure it has the greatest impact. By being proactive and improving your communication skills, you will be cultivating a valuable tool that will not only grow your influence in the workplace but will also aid your career development.
To learn more about fostering key soft skills for the Accounting marketplace or to find out about the latest job opportunities, contact the team of Accounting recruitment specialists at Richard Lloyd.