As a professional in the accounting field, it’s important that you be a good communicator. You need to learn to cultivate relationships both within your firm (with your peers and supervisors) and outside of your firm (with your clients, prospects, and referral sources).
Do you struggle to communicate clearly and regularly? You’re not alone. This is a difficult task for many professionals. Here are some helpful tips for cultivating your communication skills:
Focus on Listening – When you’re in a conversation, it’s easy to get distracted with planning what you’re going to say next and forget to listen closely to what is being said. Knowing this, make a conscious effort to be an active listener. When you’re in a conversation, focus closely on what is being said. In order to show that you’re paying attention, ask good follow-up questions.
Study Nonverbal Communication – Studies show that more than half of communication is nonverbal—that’s a lot! Learn to pay attention to the physical cues of not only those with whom you’re speaking, but also of yourself. Consider what you’re communicating via your demeanor—your posture, eye contact, and the way that you move around spaces. Read up on positive nonverbal communication and put what you learn into practice.
Examine Your Own Behavior – Consider recording yourself and playing it back to learn more about how you speak. Perhaps take a video of yourself during a meeting. Watching it back can help you understand where you need to adjust in order to improve your communication skills.
Practice, Practice, Practice – Poor communication skills are a common problem. Consider organizing some group communication exercises among your friends or your colleagues. Be willing to both give and receive constructive criticism in order to help one another improve.
Pay Attention to Email Etiquette – Not all communication is face-to-face, or even verbal. Much miscommunication happens over mediums such as email, because tone is so difficult to interpret. Consider your words carefully when crafting an email. Additionally, consider how you can break up the information you’re sending into a more readable form (e.g., include bullet points, section titles, etc.). Lastly, remember that sometimes it’s best to forego an email in favor of a phone conversation, especially for lengthy or complex topics.
Becoming a good communicator takes intentionality and practice, but efforts in these areas pay off in spades. The internet holds a wide range of helpful resources for learning more about communicating effectively. And, since this is struggle for many people, don’t be afraid to reach out to friends and colleagues for advice and practice—they’ll probably be glad for the opportunity to improve their own communication skills.