February 22, 2011

Are You A Liar?

In The Star (26 June 2008) I read the article “Selebi’s job safe for 12 more months”

In the body of the article, the following appeared: While leaked documents have suggested that the Scorpions’ investigation was being stymied by acting police chief Tim Williams refusal to hand over evidence, Williams has vehemently denied these claims. “Police never obstruct justice – that’s part of our training”.

Do you think that Tim Williams is being honest or is he being evasive?

According to persuasion psychologists, it could be the latter.

Research has shown that people who are hiding the truth tend to depersonalise their answers. They avoid “I” and “we”. When questioned about the Watergate scandal, Nixon didn’t say “I did not do that …” he said, “The President would not do such a thing”.
Tim Williams said, “Police never obstruct justice …”

Other depersonalising statements include, this office, the presidency wouldn’t …, the industry standard is …,

If you make the following mistakes in sales, you could be considered a liar:

  • Liars avoid making factual statements – they use generalisations instead of specific statements
  • Liars circumvent the question, never give direct answers
  • Liars add phrases – to be perfectly honest and to tell you the truth
  • Liars exaggerate
  • When using numbers they use round numbers and all the numbers they use appear to be multiples of each other
  • Liars can sound too good to be true
  • Liars give more information than necessary
  • Liars, to cover up their deceit, oversell

If you are guilty of some of the above, I’m not sure a sales training course will help. Maybe, just a relook at the values and principles your grandparents and parents instilled in you will be more helpful.

One Comment on “Are You A Liar?

Etienne de Villiers
February 22, 2011 at 5:43 pm

Very interesting. I was a lawyer up to about 20 years ago and when someone mentioned something that sounded too good to be true, it reminded me of this experience –

“Now, about that remark, about a blacklisted debtor trying to obtain a loan from a bank.There are loan sharks who advertise that you can apply for a loan even if you have judgements against you. How do they get it right if banks don’t see their way clear?

Years ago a client found a full page advert in “Die Landbouweekblad” and instructed me to assist him with the application for a very similar type of loan. Consolidation of all debts. Low interest rates as the money came from overseas. Judgements? No problem. My client would pay for our flight from Kimberley to Johannesburg and for our stay in an hotel apart from my fee for looking after his interests. We left the next day.

Had a great time in the ladies bar the night before our appointment.

Next afternoon after lunch we rocked up at these plush offices in the very tall and smart [then] Sandton City Centre. There were some scruffy characters sitting in the waiting area. Ten minutes later the sexy receptionist lead the way to our appointment.

Over a cup of coffee and from across his wide oak desk the friendly, distinguished gentleman financier asked some introducing questions. I painted the details of my prepared brief and answered some questions on my client’s farming activities, potential and so forth. He asked some more questions on the aspects I had put on the table, informed us about the procedures and said that my client would be required to pay R500 [probably the equivalent of R5000 today] up front as an application fee, as they would have to draft a full motivation and a specified business plan first, to present to their investors, some of whom were actually banking institutions. Our client would of course also receive a copy of this document, which would be drafted by the University of Stellenbosch Business School. The gentleman questioned my client in depth, especially about his farm, stock, game and arrears due on a Landbank farm bond, mentioned a problem here and there but in the end dealt with the ways these could be overcome. It was a matter, it seemed, that my client would land in the same difficulties if he took up only enough to settle the Landbank bond. He should probably apply for more, than he so humbly intended, because with every cent of every debt out of the way, plus enough to stock his farm properly, he would then be able to actually start making progress in life. But, he explained while lighting a thick cigar, that will all be dealt with by the Business School who will look into the problem analytically and advise the best financial approach. He brought the message across, very clearly, that he was very interested in assisting my client. He viewed most city applicants, he said, as men of straw and, to discourage them, charged them R20 [the equivalent of about R200 today] for an interview. But they still came, as we would probably have noticed at reception, he said.

That explains that, I thought.

Here was a financing company with a different approach. They were English speaking of course, but you felt that they represented you nevertheless. If you owned a farm, even a piece of the arid Kalahari where the sun forces you to sit and smoke your pipe on the stoep the whole day long, you were of the landed class. Not a “takhaar” as we ourselves sometimes refer to some of our own people out there. These investors are not against you, like the banks, including our small Afrikaans Volkskas [now the big ABSA]. And, with all their experience, they obviously knew what they were doing. How else do they get all their money? They were in a league that we only read about in books, we thought, there between those rich, wood paneled walls.

And there we sat, two hours later. Smoking cigarettes and having our third cup of coffee. Without the R500 application fee my client could not be helped at all [like those scruffy guys in reception who probably wanted to apply for R500] but by paying the R500 my client would stand a nearly guaranteed chance of obtaining the loan. That’s how we felt. So, even in the unlikely event of the application being declined, my client would at least have the professional business plan that would be full value for his R500.


said the gentleman, sliding the application form across for my client to sign.

That night we had an even greater time in the ladies bar. We were convinced that these Johannesburg high-finance guys also need to look for opportunities to earn some interest on their billions. In their league, they were sharp enough to know that when you finance a gold mine you don’t finance only the purchase of the land and the mineral rights but also years and years of setting up of the infra-structure and carrying running expenses, before you start earning. You do the thing properly or you don’t do it at all. In a smaller way ours was just such a case. They’re looking for partners, so to say, not for men of straw like those scruffies we saw there. Much later that evening mellowed and totally content, I agreed with my cleint when he said “Ou Meyer [our local bank manager] weet fokkol van hierdie goete ou Etienne”. When we lifted our glasses for the last drop of the last dop, I felt it an opportune moment to shout ”Vive la France”.

A week or so later I got a call from a lady advising that my client’s application had been provisionally approved for the full amount, but the University had been asked by the investors to attach a valuation of the farm to their business plan, which is why she was calling as she had received instructions to do the valuation. However, her charges were R600 [the equivalent of about R6000 today] which the client must pay to her on the day that she does the valuation. She’ll bring the client’s copy of the business plan, the provisional approval and her instructions to do the valuation with her, she said. “In for a penny, in for a pound” were our mutual thoughts when I advised my client about the call.

Another week later the lady arrived on the farm. My client took her around but as one bone dry sand dune looks like another, there was no point in letting her suffer the heat of a whole day in a bakkie to actually view the whole 10 000 hectares of desert. She immediately agreed. So the valuation did not take much more than 20 minutes. When she handed the promised business plan over my client gave the lady her cheque. The documentation was impressive but at that time we just squizzed through the first page or so, noticing the words ”provisionally approved” in one letter and ”strongly advised” in the University’s motivation. It was exactly what we expected after our meeting in Johannesburg. These guys knew what they were doing. As she got into her air conditioned Merc, the lady advised that it should not take more than a week before they’ll contact us to sign the necessary bond documents at Deneys Reitz, their Johannesburg attorneys.

We were looking forward to the trip.

Ten days later I phoned the gentleman as I had not heard anything and my client was asking. He was overseas, I was told, but would be back in three days and they’ll call me the moment he arrives. No call. Not then. Not ever. In fact three days later there was no reply on the Johannesburg number. The Stellenbosch number on the papers? No such number. Deneys Reitz? Never heard of the guy before.

I reversed my fee of R250 [the equivalent of about R2500 today]. My client lost R1100 [the equivalent of about R11000 today]. I heard the conman was eventually caught, prosecuted and found guilty of fraud, involving many, many charges.

Now, about that remark again, about loans being available, even if you have judgements against you. Old friend, here’s my drift …. anything that comes cheaply, loans, insurance, whatever, costs you dearly … in the end. You’ll see. I know”.


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