Honest Contractors? What Language May Tell You


Working recently on updating our rental unit, my wife and I did a lot of the work ourselves, however we also relied on the expertise of some contractors for things out of our limited skill-set. What did their language reveal?
About a week ago I met with one contractor for a small project and he reviewed the job and gave me an estimate on the cost and said he will get back to me in a couple days. I agreed and the job was under way, so I thought. A week or so later I haven't heard anything from him so I called him to check on the status. He sounded surprised and somewhat confused about the job, what it entailed, and who I was. I reminded him of the details of the job and the location and he and said, “Oh, yeah, yeah. Well, to tell you the truth, I don’t think it will get done this week. I had to order some material, I didn’t have enough on hand, and it ships from California.”
My immediate thought was that he forgot about the job. His qualifying language, “to tell you the truth”, tipped me off. Why would he have to qualify his statement? Was he not telling me the truth earlier? Qualifying statements are always something that should catch your attention.
In addition to his use of a qualifying statement, he also fell into the 'well'. He said Well, to tell you the truth…” When someone says, “Well…” we should be on guard because it is often a slight stall while they are formulating a response, and it may represent a “lag before a lie.” For more about WELL, check the related article and click HERE.
He then said, “I had to order some material” which lacks commitment. The reason it lacks commitment is that he does not say he actually ORDERED the material, only that he HAD TO order it. Maybe he forgot to order it and didn’t want to lie and say he actually ordered it, so he told the truth, that he had to order it. Most people will tell the truth; you just have to look for or listen to what they are actually saying.
He also added a lot of additional detail which is unnecessary. The qualifying statement above is unnecessary as well, but also the fact he stated he “didn’t have enough on hand” and that “it ships from California.” Why would I need to know that? Quite often people who lie or are covering up for something will add additional information to try to justify or support their statements. In most cases, the shortest way to say something is the best (and most honest way) to say something. So, if he said something like; “I ordered the material but it hasn’t come in yet” I would not have had any flags raised.
Some confirmation that he DID forget the job was that he called me back about 10 minutes later to get the address and location of the job again "for my paperwork."


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