|Collaboration Management: Ensuring Necessary Buy-in From Communications Partners
As CPAs, your job involves several forms of communication. You need to─
- Get agreement from clients, colleagues and partners.
- Need to negotiate with departments of finance, CFOs and the IRS.
- Ensure you understand, and are understood by, all people you
Failure to do any of these is costly, financially and personally.
You don’t make many errors with your numerical calculations, and yet your verbal
communications end up fraught with misunderstanding, disagreements, assumptions
and failed connection.
What is going on?
What’s going on is that the system of communication is very different from the
system of numbers. Numbers are based on facts; communication is based on
beliefs. Numbers can be proven right or wrong; communication is subjective.
Numbers and their behaviors are predictable and static; you can’t know people,
and their behaviors vary according to the situation.
Without good communication, your skill as a CPA is in question, much like a chef
with no one to eat the food, or a clothing designer whose product doesn’t get
There are rules to communication. But they are different rules from the ones
that govern numbers. Let’s take a look at how you can achieve buy-in from your
communication partners by following a few simple rules:
- Information doesn’t teach someone how to make a decision. Being
right is very different from being in a relationship. Your numbers are
right: how is the net take away being received? Acted upon? Do you know what
should happen from your communication as opposed to what is happening? Have
you stepped on a closely held belief that needs to be managed before the
person can agree? You may be right, but until or unless the other person
buys in to your suggestions, nothing will happen.
What do you need to say differently to help the other person either agree or
agree to collaborate in resolving an issue? What level of responsibility do
you need to take to follow the person through the agreement process? What
does this person need from you differently in order to have an easier time
- The sender of the communication is responsible for ensuring
understanding. If you are not getting the type of response you need from
your communication partner, you must say it in a very different way.
What does a successful outcome sound like? How will you know when you both
have achieved a level of agreement? When you need to use different words to
get your point across? When you need to change your point and choose a
different outcome in order to compromise?
- The meaning of the communication is the response it elicits. This
is an old NeuroLinguistic Programming rule. Your communication partner
didn’t hear it wrong. You said it wrong.
How do you know when it’s time to reconfigure your speech pattern to ensure
understanding and agreement from the other person?
- You have a choice of being right or being in a relationship. It’s
The question now becomes: What are you willing to believe differently to
ensure that your communication is a win-win; capable of being collaborative and
flexible; and a joint outcome can be met?
What skills do you need to learn differently to help you manage a collaborative
communication style that makes your numbers or financial plan accepted? How
will you know the difference between being understood and not being understood –
and when it’s time to communicate differently?
At the end of the day, no matter how right your numbers are, or brilliant your
financial plan, if you can’t communicate to ensure buy-in, it doesn’t matter.
Have the necessary flexibility to ensure buy-in, and your end results will be
About the Author
Sharon Drew Morgen is the author of New York Times Business Best
Seller Selling with Integrity and five other books on a collaborative decision
making model. She is a communications and collaboration coach; a decision
strategist; keynote speaker; and developer of a wholly original selling method
based on helping buyers make buying decisions. She can be reached at: