Phrases You Should Never Use With Your Clients

Gina Deveney
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Business professionals can say silly or even dim-witted things at times. Perhaps you had too little sleep the night before or you did not pay attention to what your boss said in the meeting two weeks ago. Whatever the reason, make sure you make it up to your accounting client when you say something awkward or untoward.

Accountants deal with money and how companies handle their finances. Joking about someone else's money has a time and a place, but most business owners cherish their revenue streams, profits and employees. Accountants may be able to say things among themselves that they cannot mention to an accounting client. Yet, accidents happen. Try not to say any of the following phrases to avoid.

As your valued client signs a contract, never say "just sign your life away." Your clients trust you and place their business in your capable hands. A better thing to say includes "we just have some paperwork to sign" after the meeting to finalize your contract with the client.

When discussing how much money your client pays you or your firm, avoid the phrase "nobody works for free." Your accounting client knows there are less expensive alternatives to your services, especially around tax time. Instead, discuss how much your personalized service can deliver the best service possible.

Never devalue a client's curiosity with the phrase "you wouldn't understand." Try to explain a concept in non-accounting terms by saying what accounting practices are generally accepted versus what a client may see on television or read in the news.

Avoid disparaging another firm to an accounting client, even if there is a chance you could lose business to a rival. Try to remind your client that it is difficult to place a dollar value on the history and familiarity between your client and yourself.

Try not to tell a client who calls your phone to wait. Instead, try to tell the phone caller that you are with a client going through an audit right now and you can call the client back during a free moment in the car. Promise to give the client on the phone your undivided attention later in the day.

Sometimes you feel like an accounting client may not be telling you everything. Do not say "who is going to know?" Instead, explain that no one wants to get audited and that the best thing to do is be honest about possible mistakes that may turn up later.

Most definitely avoid saying "they haven't caught me yet," because that fails to instill confidence in your abilities. Even if you are joking, try to explain a strategy you have for a client's business by first saying the facets of the strategy have strong foundations in tax law.

Any of these phrases to avoid can cause more stress in your job than you normally deal with on a regular basis. Remember that you are just as human as everyone else and that you make mistakes, too. Overcome your perfectionism by having a routine, remaining positive and showing compassion for yourself.

An accounting client deserves your trust and respect. Maintain honesty and kindness throughout your relationship with the client to foster a lifelong business partnership.

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