Technical Articles

International Journal of Government Auditing – April 2012

Auditors and Effective Communication Skills

Accounting and auditing are quantitative fields of study that usually do not cover areas such as public relations, social psychology, or human communication as major courses. However, because auditing and accounting are conducted by human beings, a lack of focus on these areas may be an oversight. In addition to having the expertise and necessary skills to perform their duties, auditors should be trained for another very significant skill: effective communication.

The fact is, auditees prefer not to be audited and may resist auditors. Effective communication skills can make the aggressive and dry face of accounting and auditing softer, more justifiable, and more acceptable to an auditee. Auditors who are grim-faced and bad-tempered will not succeed in performing audit tasks. For example, when a bad-tempered auditor requests information from an auditee, the auditee may refuse the request, give the auditor the wrong documents, or otherwise confuse the auditor and waste his/her time.

The main objective of developing effective communication skills is to create a common and understandable language for communication between the auditors and the auditees. A Persian proverb says, “Pleasant language will bring a snake out of its hole.” Effective communication can promote confidence and trust between auditors and auditees. Experience has shown that people who consider how they communicate will achieve their desired results faster than those who don’t. The latter may find themselves with complicated and expensive problems that could have been avoided.

Since mankind is a social race, effective communication skills will serve auditors well on the job and in their personal lives. If auditors are unable to communicate effectively with their families, it will affect their work and consequently cause such problems as job boredom, psychological disorders, and physical diseases. Such problems will obviously increase the cost of audits and will negatively affect the quality of audit reports and the performance of the audit organization. In addition, auditors with poor communication skills will clash with their colleagues and supervisors within their own organization, which will damage their professional eligibility and ultimately result in lower job evaluation scores. This will affect their job cycles and job promotions.

Effective communication skills can give auditors charisma—an attractive personality—and encourage others to follow them. If one is able to communicate well, it shows that one is active and useful in one’s personal and social lives. In addition to working with people, auditors also deal with many statistics, reports, financial books, accounting documents, and quantitative analyses. Effective communication skills can help provide auditors with the confidence they need to work with these things and avoid hasty decision making and planning that are not thorough enough. Auditors possessing these skills will promote the development of their organization and country.

INTOSAI and similar organizations could prepare guidelines / educational pamphlets regarding the promotion of effective human communication and interpersonal communication skills for members. It might be said that through effective communication skills, SAIs can help to prevent problems such as corruption, money laundering, and false reports, which will benefit all countries and organizations.

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