Human Relation Skills Required in the Career of Accounting

by Lauren Treadwell

Although accountants primarily work with numbers, people skills are also important in the profession. Without these so-called "soft skills," you may find it hard to relay complicated or technical financial information to clients. Poor human relations can cost you jobs, promotions or clients, so it's important that you identify and hone these skills.


One of the most important interpersonal skills for an accountant is the ability to listen. Even the smallest mistake can result in big problems, so make sure you listen carefully to clients and associates to ensure you are all on the same page. Maintain eye contact and listen attentively to what others have to say. Ask questions if you don't understand something. Repeat back what you've heard to ensure you get the right information the first time. If you lack listening skills you can appear uncaring and unprofessional. More importantly, you might miss important information that can cause a major financial problem for your employer or client.

Effective Communication

Accountants must be able to relay information effectively and efficiently. You have to know how to communicate with people that possess various levels of financial comprehension, including clients, managers and coworkers. This means converting complicated financial data into layman's terms without losing vital information along the way. Of equal importance are the basics of proper spelling, grammar and clear speech when presenting data either in writing or face-to-face.

Ability to Work in Teams

Although self-employed accountant may not need to work collaboratively as often as their wage-earning counterparts, all accountants need to know how to be a member of a team. For accountants with employee status, that means being able to collaborate with other employees and departments. For independent accountants, that means communicating with a client's lawyers, financial advisers and other relevant parties. In both cases, collaborating effectively relies on the ability to provide the correct data in a timely fashion, so well-developed listening and communication skills play a large part in successful team work.

Ethical Behavior

The ability to act ethically at all times is paramount to a successful accounting career. Beyond the fact that poor ethics can land you in serious legal trouble, no one wants to entrust their finances to someone they believe is dishonest. Shady practices may lead your boss or clients to doubt you and your judgement, so being able to resist the temptation of a a bit of number fudging or other quick-but-underhanded fixes is a key skill to foster.

About the Author

Lauren Treadwell studied finance at Western Governors University and is an associate of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors. Treadwell provides content to a number of prominent organizations, including Wise Bread, FindLaw and Discover Financial. As a high school student, she offered financial literacy lessons to fellow students.

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