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Archive for November, 2009

TO BE SUCCESSFUL AT THEIR job, internal auditors must be able to write, speak, and listen effectively. Of these three skills, effective listening may be the most crucial because auditors are required to do it so often. Unfortunately, listening also may be the most difficult skill to master.

Effective listening is challenging, in part, because people often are more focused on what they’re saying than on what they’re hearing in return. According to a recent study by the Harvard Business Review, people think the voice mail they send is more important than the voice mail they receive. Generally, senders think that their message is more helpful and urgent than do the people who receive it.

Additionally, listening is difficult because people don’t work as hard at it as they should. Listening seems to occur so naturally that putting a lot of effort into it doesn’t seem necessary. However, hard work and effort is exactly what effective listening requires.

Internal auditors must listen to explanations, rationales, and defenses of financial practices and procedures. They are constantly communicating with fellow employees whose backgrounds range from accounting to finance to marketing to information systems. In addition, explanations by fellow employees of any “unusual” practices often pose a significant challenge to an internal auditor’s listening skills. Auditors can use the following techniques to improve these skills.

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