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As more and more organisations make use of virtual teams, the need for effective communication skills has become increasingly vital. It is also becoming one of the most important soft skills to further your finance career. The ability to clearly articulate your ideas, negotiate and liaise with stakeholders is all about strong communication. Whether it’s writing succinct emails, leading effective meetings or discussing strategies with your team, our top tips will help you avoid misunderstandings and strengthen your office relationships.
When communicating in the workplace, the aim is typically to inform, persuade or motivate an audience. Effective communication skills will help you engage others, drive action and create trust and confidence with your colleagues.
Developing your professional communication skills can take time, but becoming more aware of how you communicate, along with a little practice and planning, you can significantly strengthen your skills. Here are some key things to remember.
Do your research before any interaction and consider your audience carefully. The more you understand about them, the better you will be able to craft your message in order to achieve the outcome intended.
What are their priorities? Understand their concerns and be prepared to discuss them.
What is their knowledge of the subject? How much background information is required?
What is their level of investment? What’s in it for them?
What are their likely issues and attitude towards the subject?
What information will they need to make a decision? Bring accurate and relevant information to the table, but don’t overload your audience with facts that are simply not of interest to them.
It may seem obvious, but you need to think carefully about the medium used for communicating your message – it must be appropriate. Emails are often the default choice in the modern workplace, but written text can easily be misconstrued. This is especially true for sensitive subjects which typically work best with verbal, face-to-face (or video conference) mediums.
Conversely, email is an excellent medium for communicating a brief status update and
is a great way to provide a consistent and clear message to multiple audiences. When using email, always remember to:
Write a meaningful subject line that states clearly the content. A vague subject line could result in your message becoming buried in email admin, and you will miss the opportunity to persuade your recipient.
Keep your message concise. Provide relevant details and format them clearly.
Double check emails for typos and spelling mistakes, or you could risk looking unprofessional and give the impression the subject isn’t a priority.
Understand the difference between formal and informal situations. Informal sign-offs and smiley faces are fine when you know the recipient well enough. In fact, these casual exchanges can often help to build rapport and trust. However, if you are emailing someone you don’t know very well, or a senior member of the leadership team, appearing too familiar can be seen as disrespectful and unprofessional – use with care!
Regardless of the communication medium, ensure you use clear and concise language. Articulate the purpose of the communication and your expected outcomes from the start. Use the minimum number of sentences required to do this, based on audience knowledge, and always review your communication for ambiguity and clarity.
To be a great communicator, it is absolutely critical you pay close attention to other people’s emotions, words, feelings, and views. It is only through listening that we are able to build greater empathy with our colleagues and clients and better understand their needs. This is particularly true in situations where the subject is complex or emotionally charged, as it can help you avoid misunderstandings and potential conflict.
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.
A good communicator is someone who can convey information accurately, clearly and simply, using the correct medium. Successful outcomes are achieved through ensuring your audience understand why the communication is important, and what is expected of them. To succeed, make sure you know your intended audience, craft the communication appropriately and truly listen to their views and emotions.
Following these simple tips will ensure you deliver your message with impact, allowing you to grow your influence in the workplace!
Interested in learning more about which soft skills are in demand in the Finance space? Call our specialist consultants us on 020 7096 8200 or email us at [email protected]
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