Communication Skills for Junior Auditors: What to Know and Why

Posted by | March 4, 2019 | Latest Audit Information & News

This week our highly experienced audit associates share their knowledge for their more Junior peers in order to help with their communication skills in the Audit profession.


Communication Skills for Junior Auditors: What to Know and Why

It’s human nature to want to impress others. And when you’re in a new position, the urge to impress can be even stronger. Even if we’re not conscious of it as it’s happening, the urge to “prove ourselves” in new situations is real. And when this urge presents itself, there are some common communication mistakes that junior auditors make.

Mistake: Over-explaining something to prove that you know it.

Correction: Ask questions, be quiet, and really listen.

Ever experience that eyes-glazed-over look when someone is explaining something to you? Don’t be that person! The tendency to over-explain something to prove yourself is high in people new to any position. Smart communicators know that the real power and confidence lies in not saying anything at all. And savvy professionals know how to navigate conversations so that they allow others to share more than they do. To shift the communication dynamic, all you need to do is ask a question, sit back, and truly listen.

People support what they help create. By asking questions and letting others do the explaining, you’re allowing them agency in the process. When you give someone agency, they are likely to feel more ownership. This results in increased responsibility and follow-through. All things that internal auditors really need from their clients and their colleagues.

Mistake: Giving “formal” presentations.

Correction: Take a seat and change the presentation to a conversation.

if you’re presenting to a group of 12 people or less and you’re able to see everyone from a seated position, don’t stand to give the presentation. Instead, present—and have a conversation—while seated with the rest of the group.

Standing in a conference room where everyone else is seated, or standing behind a podium in a larger audience, creates a nonverbal barrier between you and your clients. Instead, sit down. That way you create an environment that demonstrates your confidence and your willingness to have a conversation about a report instead of you being the only purveyor of information. I dive deep into this topic here if you want to learn more. There’s also a great article on designing effective visuals and PowerPoints slides to help supplement your presentations here.

Mistake: Not owning your statements by using pronouns like “they” or “we” or attributing blame.

Correction: Use “I” to show confident communication and own your words.

It’s easy to attach blame. And it’s easier, during stressful or difficult conversations, to point a proverbial finger than to do the processing necessary to take responsibility for your choice. It’s the same when it comes to conversations with your team members. Don’t start a sentence with the word “you.” Instead, start with “I.”

Here are two more statements to demonstrate the difference, even when giving positive statements.

“You did a great job on this presentation.”

“I noticed your hard work on this presentation. Great job.”

When we hear statements starting with “you” we tend to go on the defensive, even when we don’t know what will follow! Whenever the urge to respond with an excuse, or to point your proverbial finger at someone (even if it’s good) arises, rephrase the statement in your head so that it starts with “I” and then the choice you made. Doing so will demonstrate ownership and confidence.

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