[IMGCAP(1)]Early on my boss took me to a client that I was to work on. He started to explain what needed to be done and what the client did, but then he said, “I hate this client—everything is always messed up and nothing ever makes sense.”

He also told me my work area was in the factory. I would probably have to move a chair next to a carton that would serve as a desk, and he warned me the lighting wasn’t too good.

His remarks were like a kiss of death. For the next five or six months, I dreaded going to the client, always thinking how messed up they were and nothing ever made sense. Then it dawned on me that I was the person doing the work, and things were in order. The carton I worked on was a few feet from where the client packed his shipments. When he did, he always chatted with me about his business, customers, employees and pricing strategies.

He also told me things he liked to do, such as going to the opera (which I did too) and vacations he took or would like to take. The client also would buy me a sandwich to have lunch with him. I got very friendly with him. And then I asked myself why I dreaded going there. I loved working there! It became my favorite client that I eagerly looked forward to visiting.

My boss’s idle remark prejudiced me against the client, and it took me months to get over it.

The takeaway for me was that when I became a boss, I only said great things about a client, influencing the staff to like the client and eagerly look forward to working with them. Negative remarks about a client never left my lips! Actually, negative remarks were never applicable—my clients are all great!

Edward Mendlowitz, CPA, is a partner in WithumSmith+Brown, PC, CPAs. He has authored 20 books and has written hundreds of articles for business and professional journals and newsletters plus a Tax Loophole article for every issue of TaxHotline for 27 years. Ed also writes a blog twice a week that addresses issues his clients have at www.partners-network.com. He is the winner of the Lawler Award for the best article published during 2001 in the Journal of Accountancy. He has also taught in the MBA graduate program at Fairleigh Dickinson University, and is admitted to practice before the U.S. Tax Court. Ed welcomes practice management questions and he can be reached at WithumSmith+Brown, One Spring Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, (732) 964-9329, emendlowitz@withum.com.