Posted by: nedpelger | February 18, 2009

Liars, Damn Liars and Other Construction Site Oddities

I hate lying. Whether it’s a big whopper some idiot tells or just someone making a commitment that they know they aren’t going to keep, I’ve tried to arrange my business and my life so I don’t have to deal with many liars. I’ve been reasonably successful.

When one of our daughters was about 16, I caught her in a bold-faced lie. I said to her, “You just lied to me, you stood there and told me a lie!” Trying to explain to me the current state of the world, she responded, “Dad, that’s what people do when they get caught. They lie.” I had to laugh at her honesty about lying and her desire to help me see the light.

Dereck Hench (Construction Supervisor) and I are building a bunch of 24 and 32 unit apartment buildings. We have about a third of the 320 apartments built and occupied.  Dereck just told me about a Drywall Finisher who needed to get some water in one of the occupied buildings. Rather than going outside to one of the many exterior wall hydrants, he unscrewed the sprinkler cap and got a bucket of water from the sprinkler system.

As you can imagine, the water flow switch activated the fire alarm and alerted the fire department, who responded to the site with sirens and flashing lights. As Dereck was trying to figure out what happened, he asked the Drywall Finisher if he got water from the sprinkler system (I wouldn’t have even thought to ask). The fellow said, “No, not me.”

Dereck looked into the drywall bucket and saw the dark black water and knew he had a liar on his hands. Dereck usually responds a bit more forcefully to situations than I do (a good combination) and it’s unlikely that fellow will ever touch a sprinkler system valve again.

Over the years I’ve worked with many subs who promised crews the next day then simply didn’t send them. The lies than flowed about what happened between their comittment and their lack of delivery. I got tired of the same guys telling the same lies. Now, if I can’t rely on someone to be straight with me, they just don’t even get a chance to bid. Then I don’t get tempted by a low bid number to again endure the aggravation of working with liars.

You probably don’t have the luxury of choosing who you work with, but you can pay attention to a few things. Do you lie when it’s convenient or try to be straight? Do you panic lie (get nervous and just say what the other person wants to hear)? Do you hold others accountable when they lie to you, willing to confront them and find out what’s really going on?

I challenge you today to commit to be a person of truth. You’ll discover your life has much less stress because you don’t have to keep track of the lies. You’ll also build better relationships with everyone you encounter.


  1. “Lies, damned lies, and statistics” – Benjamin Disraeli , made famous by Mark Twain

    Reminds me of every news story about a CEO in the last 5 months…

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