Is your builder a Nixon or an Eisenhower Liar?

"How much?"

I'm sure my astonishment could not be concealed at the price quoted for our new premises.  We needed new carpet for our 800sqm Centre and this first quote turned out to be the cheapest, to my dismay.  Having received the advised three quotes for everything, the commitment then kicks in when tentatively giving the go ahead for the work.  Oh yes, then there was the building work, electricity rewiring and the plumbing of three bathrooms and acres of custom made curtain to deal with.


Anyone who has agreed to a quotation for home improvements knows that feeling when you've agreed a price and suddenly the price climbs and climbs because....


"Well, I THOUGHT it was a straightforward job, but what you have here is..."

"No, you never told me you wanted it THAT side of the room, you see, that changes everything..."

"My assistant is off with the flu right now so I'm having to call in additional help for this if you want it done on time..."

"That carpet/shower cubicle/boiler/kitchen is discontinued so we are having to go with a replacement..."


What do you do when a tradesman is halfway through a job and it's Christmas/grand opening/new baby arriving next week?


Should your builder be honest with you when quoting for that new kitchen? How about other tradesmen, or lawyers and bankers?  Most of us, with hindsight, would not have commenced proceedings in a court case had when known our promised two month case would extend to four years of stress and expense to heart and wallet. Most may have made do with the original kitchen when the money pit opened up and you were forced into microwaved meals in your dusty plastered shell of a kitchen for eight months.


Tradesmen, lawyers and bankers and world leaders are all people of course, regardless of employment, so if we wish the world a more peaceful and honest place we may need to be more careful in our initial negotiations and use the science of deception analysis and improved communication skills rather than blind hope that you have picked an honest tradesperson rather than just going with the cheapest quote.


Beware of this one, by the way, because going with the cheapest quote can be a costly option.  Builders generally know they have to under-quote at the onset to get you on board so they have no option afterwards to add on to the bill and explain to you why as you go through to completion.


This is no different to lawyers, by the way, often a person cannot tell exactly what will be encountered along the way and what will crawl out of the woodwork.  The blatant truth however, is sometimes hard to hear.  The first rule of lying is that it takes two.  If your builder KNOWS you are unlikely to accept the truth of how much your job will cost, he is more likely to lie to you.  


Do you really want your country's leader to be utterly honest in all communications?  Would you rather be told the TRUTH or given hope of idealistic improvement? The truth is a fluid thing sometimes, as the politician's genuine hope of such improvement may be particularly genuine and delivered with eagerness and integrity.  When in office, such qualities may diminish. 


When someone is representing your interests, in an environment where you cannot, or should not, represent yourself, would you seriously want them to exercise complete and utter honesty?


In court cases and in disputes of all nature, sometimes it is prudent to accept the wise counsel of a more detached and reserved diplomat.


Let's say, going back closer to home, there is a builder carrying out some work for you on your property.  You ask how much the job will finally cost you and how much more time it will take.


Your observation skills will pay dividends at this time to:


A) assess whether your trademan is being as open and honest as he could be; and


B) enable you to pick up on areas where you need to expand on and question further.


Knowing these will give you a best and worst case scenario figure and soften any substantial surprise escalation in costs. 




There is an environment and circumstances in which we generally accept the necessity of lying; in times of war, for example.  Here is where we are not likely to be representing ourselves at the peace talks.  Like it or not, we elect people to do those negotiations on our behalf. 


In addition, there are really two distinct kinds of lying: omission and commission.


Omission is where we leave some vital piece of information out of our communication and commission is when we deliberately falsify some aspect of truth.


For example, Eisenhower would not be condemned for the elaborate lies told to lead the Nazis to believe that we intended to land at Calais rather than Normandy.


Omission may be 'fixtures and fittings' and VAT or double time for working on a Sunday, in our domestic example.  Commission could be a deliberate ploy to get you to buy a costlier kitchen unit, which he can get at a knock down price from his contact, by stating your chosen item is no longer available, or the fittings for your chosen units are just not compatible with building standards. 


The political arena accepts and oftentimes supports concealment lies with the hidden proviso that the leader is acting on behalf of the greater good of those whom he represents.  However, Nixon and his supporters were not accepted in their deceit because the lying was in support of Nixon's personal, domestic interests rather than the country's.


Now, please understand, as some of my best friends are builders, that there are folks that go to extraordinary lengths to get a good deal for you and they can cut corners and shave bits off the price (forgive the puns).   However, is your builder a bit of a Nixon?  Your deception skills will find him out.


In a Cold War, as in certain court proceedings, the leader defends the interests of those he represents and sifts through data and truth, to present and highlight that information that serves them, concealing and defending and at times, attacking, all else.

Broken promises only qualify as a lie if the speaker knows AT THE TIME when he said them that they were untrue.  Declaring not to raise income tax is a specific potential lie though promising better futures for our children is generalised and made specific only by the criteria the listener applies to such 'better future'.


You cannot accuse your builder of lying when he honestly thought he had quoted a fair price for the work to be carried out and then discovers ..... (Fill in the blank!).


One of my builder friends maintains a huge beautiful property for an incredibly wealthy lady (his description, as I know, all things are relative!).  He often says things like, 'Oh, Veronica would NEVER agree to that, that's much too expensive," or, "no, no, really that is NOT good enough, you will have to sort out a better price on that one/use better quality materials/rip all that out and start again," etc.


Veronica never gets to hear all the efforts made on her behalf and she would probably happily pay whatever she was told it cost to get the jobs done.  Yes, she may be 'ripped off' or taken advantage of if she were to deal directly with the tradesmen.  Is my builder friend lying, if he never consults with her in these matters? Or is he being a bit of an Eisenhower and protecting her interests?


Here are your tips for better building interactions!


* Silence is golden. No one likes it and we all seek to fill it! Use silences to encourage THEIR communication rather than yours.  Ask questions you need answers to and WATCH for red flags.


* Declare your other quotations carefully.  This gives you a solid foundation and it engages their competitive instincts in your favour, as they want to prove they're better than the opposition. Watch for confidence and true 'showing off'!


* Be friendly, but firm. You're more likely to get a result if your interaction is friendly though professional.  Avoid talking about dire finances or kids etc. 


* Question "add ons" such as VAT and additional days or additional staff requirements. Watch for red flags. 



* Walk away.  Take your quote to discuss with and compare with others.


To learn more sign up to my my new online course Human Lie Detection: How to catch a liar! Click Here


Write a comment

Comments: 4
  • #1

    Jerry Fike (Friday, 03 February 2017 01:49)

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  • #2

    Peggie Gaccione (Tuesday, 07 February 2017 10:14)

    Fastidious response in return of this question with solid arguments and telling the whole thing concerning that.

  • #3

    Ltdia (Friday, 18 May 2018 13:12)

    Builder issues

  • #4

    Helen Ellison (Tuesday, 22 May 2018 13:36)

    Wow, you explained really well. The human psychology and what they really want. I just stumbled on your blog and can't leave without reading it completely.
    Helen Ellison