Nonverbal Communication Speaks Volumes in the Accounting Business
With a seemingly ever-tightening economy, accountants – especially those who are just starting out – need more than just their professional knowledge to find and keep clients. Communication and interpersonal skills are instrumental to beating the competition.
What is said verbally is only part of what is communicated to a prospective client. Attire, body language, and even where you choose to sit speaks volumes to your audience. Here are a few quick tips for keeping your nonverbal cues positive and keeping an edge over your competition.
This may seem obvious, but it’s not a one-suit-fits-all situation. Keep your attire either on the same level or one level above your prospect. You want to give your prospect the impression that you are highly professional without seeming intimidating or over the top.
Your accessories are included in the visual representation of yourself. You can show up in a sharp suit and tie, but if your briefcase or laptop bag is threadbare and falling apart, that will be the only thing your prospect notices.
Check Your Body Language
Good posture is associated with vigor, attentiveness, and confidence, so keep your posture straight at all times, whether sitting or standing. Greet your prospect with a firm (but not hard) handshake and a grip that lasts 2-3 seconds. And of course, don’t forget to smile and make regular eye contact with your client.
Check Your Placement
When meeting a prospective client at their place of business, treat it as though they are the host and you are the guest. If they direct you where to sit, follow their indication. If they have not indicated where you should sit, avoid choosing a seat at the head of the table as this can be construed as an inappropriately assertive gesture. Instead, choose the seat directly across from your prospect, preferably on the longer side of the table, away from the door, which is a more collaborative gesture.
Keep you and your things confined to the immediate area you are sitting in. Avoid placing your coat, laptop bag or other items on the chairs next to you or on the table, which can be distracting to your potential client.
In an age where communication has evolved (or arguably de-evolved) into text messages and emails, how we conduct ourselves in person is becoming a lost art form, yet it is clearly more important than ever in order to succeed in the workplace – especially for the new accountant!
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