Accounting school is a wonderful opportunity to learn more than just what GAAP is and how to balance a ledger. It's also your chance to develop needed soft skills that will serve you throughout your career. One of these is communication. What types of communication will you need and how can you develop them? Here are three key areas in which you can use your school time wisely.
1. Working With Teams
Most accounting departments consist of several individuals working in their own disciplines — or even dozens of such workers. This means you will regularly be called upon to work with others both inside and outside of the accounting team. The ability to listen to others as well as to explain your perspective is key to collaborating. You'll need to be able to brainstorm solutions and work together to prioritize the right tasks — often on a strict timeline.
Develop skills in working with others by taking advantage of group projects and class assignments. Seek out other students to work with together, whether or not the class requires it. Learn to listen well, to dignify others, and to find win-win solutions.
2. Explaining Results
As an accounting employee, you will often be the one who must translate 'accounting speak' into something managers, other employees, and outside vendors can understand. This will include one-on-one conversations, telephone calls, email exchanges, and even public speaking.
Practice by engaging in classroom discussions — both virtual and in person — and by making presentations in school. Go above and beyond during written assignments to better develop written communication techniques. And you can even learn a lot by explaining what you're learning in class to friends and family members without an accounting background.
3. Conflict Resolution
Accounting staff may need to manage a variety of potentially emotional discussions and even some confrontations. It could be an employee who's misusing an expense account, a vendor whose invoice is incorrect, or a supplier who demands payment. Can you keep these conversations positive and effective? Can you express yourself without becoming heated? How do you respond to others who are emotional toward you?
Accounting school provides plenty of stress and pressure, so work now on learning to channel your own stress and anxiety in positive ways. Avoid letting your emotions spill out in discussions. And focus on solutions rather than problems you encounter in assignments and group projects.
When you look beyond the numbers taught in accounting classes, you will be able to use this time to make yourself into a valuable member of any team. When you can converse with all types of people, work well in groups, and keep conflicts from escalating, you'll have a head start over others as you begin your career. Learn more by talking with a counselor at an accounting school near you.