Exceptional Financial Communication — It’s All in the Eyes
Finance and communication – some might say that they don’t go hand-in-hand. But exceptional communication is a technical skill that can be learned, and used to any accountant’s advantage. Financial Directors and Managers aren’t just “number crunchers”. It’s their job to keep stakeholders informed about the organisation’s financial status on every level. And, as any financial professional will know, this often means explaining complicated systems, attending conferences, giving verbal presentations or even having very frank, often awkward financial discussions one-on-one with individuals.
All of these scenarios require a certain level of emotional intelligence and communication ability, which people in financial professions are not always naturally fantastic at.
Look everyone in the eye
Every individual understands and processes information in their own unique way, but there are certain non-verbal behavioural clues that can help us comprehend and talk to people better. Some of the most telling of these clues are in the eyes. No matter what behaviour we may have learned in our lives, we all have natural, built-in reflexes that don’t change and are generally quite universal. Eye pattern movements are among these reflexes, and they can indicate what someone is thinking before they’ve uttered a word. If we look very carefully, they can also provide potential insight as to whether a person is being truthful or fabricating what they’re saying.
The old cliché says “the eyes are the windows to the soul”. That’s not far off, but perhaps a better way of saying it would be “the eyes are the windows to the mind”. So, if you feel that you can’t control your communication efforts as well as you can control your financial reports, think again. It’s entirely possible for you to communicate better by keeping an eye out for a few subtle clues. (Excuse the pun).
What are eye pattern movements?
When we use certain parts of our brains, our eyes often move in a certain direction. Recognising the possible meaning of these movements can give us very useful information about what people are thinking, and allow us to respond accordingly.
For example, if you are explaining a new bookkeeping software to a colleague and they are looking upwards, they might well be trying to “see” the process in their mind’s eye. In cases like this, it might be better for you to physically show the person how the software works, rather than explain it verbally.
Conversely, if your colleague is looking downwards, it’s important to pay attention to the direction their eyes are facing. A movement to the right can indicate an emotional response. A movement to the left can indicate a more logical and pragmatic understanding.
Grasping these cues can help you boost productivity by ensuring that you communicate to every individual in a way they understand on a more personal level, no matter which part of the brain they are accessing to process the information.
It is worth noting, that whilst the eye pattern movements can indicate whether someone is processing information visually, auditory or kinesetically, there are of course exceptions to the standard rule. The first exception, is the direction a person may look if they remembering something versus creating something, can be reversed from a right handed person to a left handed person.
With eye pattern movements, as with other communication or coaching skills the art is to calibrate who you are talking with and figure out what their specific patterns of eye movement indicate. So, think of eye pattern movements as a bookkeeping system for the brain.