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Archive for February, 2017

As we get into full throttle here in busy season, a message about being positive is in order! Positive people, those who choose a good mood over a bad day, have a powerful advantage over negative thinkers. While some people allow life’s problems to get them down, optimistic people remind themselves that bad times are only temporary. They find ways to practice positivity, and with a sunny outlook on life, their energy is wildly infectious.

As it pertains to leadership, the power of positive thinking is vital for success, be it that of a team, a department, an office or an entire company. You can have two professionals in a leadership role who are equal in experience and skill, heading up the same group of team members. But one has a positive, optimistic attitude; the other has a generally negative demeanor. The positive leader will prevail every time with a more vibrant, productive team whose energy permeates the workplace. Negativity only leads to reduced productivity and engagement, and allowing it to fester is much more costly and damaging to an organization’s bottom line than confronting or possibly replacing a single toxic staff person.

Creating a positive and healthy culture for your team rests on a few major principles. The qualities of a positive workplace culture boils down to these Super Seven essential characteristics:

  1. Caring for, being interested in, and maintaining responsibility for colleagues as friends.
  2. Providing support for one another, including offering kindness and compassion when others are struggling.
  3. Avoiding blame and forgive mistakes.
  4. Fostering open communication, and avoiding gossip and back-stabbing.
  5. Inspiring one another at work.
  6. Emphasizing the meaningfulness of the work.
  7. Treating one another with respect, gratitude, trust, and integrity.

Positive thinking can set you up for success in every area of your life. You can be healthier, happier, and more successful just by changing your thoughts. If you want to be happy, and not just for one day, focus on the things that will help you remain positive over time. Because a positive attitude can do more than just make you feel good—it could also change your life. You can train your mind to embrace the bright side of things. Here are a few positive quotes I recently received in an email, to get you in the right frame of mind:

  • “A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes. It is a catalyst and it sparks extraordinary results.” —Wade Boggs
  • “Virtually nothing is impossible in this world if you just put your mind to it and maintain a positive attitude.” —Lou Holtz
  • “It’s actually cool to be positive and optimistic and idealistic. It’s cool to see yourself doing beautiful, great things.” —Tom DeLonge
  • “There is little difference in people but that little difference makes a big difference. The little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative.” —W. Clement Stone
  • “It takes but one positive thought when given a chance to survive and thrive to overpower an entire army of negative thoughts.” —Robert H. Schuller

I hope you enjoyed today’s message. Have an absolutely positive week!

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I once had a younger team member ask me, “What can I do to make sure I have a successful tax season”? Aside from having the technical knowledge needed to do our jobs, the essence of a successful tax season is effective communication, whether internally to our peers or supervisors, or externally to clients. Some clients prefer we only send emails; others need us to spend time on the phone; most effective is to meet in person. Regardless of our clients’ preferred mode of contact, keep in mind the following tips on being an effective communicator. In addition, effective communication with fellow engagement team members will improve the efficiency of the engagement and enhance “world class client service.”

  • First, you have to remember that good communication starts with being a good listener. Always be prepared to patiently listen to your client or teammate and never interrupt them. A simple way to be sure you understand their point or questions is to rephrase it and ask them to confirm that you didn’t misunderstand him or her.
  • Second, try to focus on being self-confident and positive. By projecting the right attitude, your words also become more positive – affirmation and encouragement will help get the best out of people, and clients will get more from the conversation. A good tip in this regard is to smile even while you are speaking on the phone and can’t be seen. This helps project a positive tone.
  • Third, understand who your audience is. When speaking with clients, it generally is not necessary to be technical in nature. Tax clients don’t really care what the code section is that allows the deduction; they only care that they can take advantage of it. Be sure to speak in your clients’ terms.
  • And lastly, you don’t always have to be right – sometimes it is better to “let it go.” There will be times during tax season when conflict with a client or fellow team member will occur. It’s generally best to hear each other out and allow time to cool off before addressing it. Remember that there is normally a compromise that is possible, and you just need to approach the conflict with a cool and rational state of mind. If you do make a mistake or find your previous position on a subject is no longer accurate, your clients and colleagues are likely to be forgiving when you are honest and up front about it.

Always feel free to seek advice from your peers or supervisor if you are not clear on something. Not only will it help you work more productively, it will minimize any potential pitfalls with our clients, particularly during this stressful time of year.

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