Error Omissions
Error Omissions
Submit your information below so we can contact you with a FREE quote
[All fields are required.]
Actual Annual Revenue:
Verify:
=
I have read and agreed to theTerms & Conditions
Error Omissions
Error Omissions

Verbal Cues Can Help with Client, Employee Intent


Verbal Cues Can Help with Client, Employee Intent

Paying Attention to Language Can Assist in Mitigating E&O Claims, Employment-Related Issues

In our blog, we often discuss the importance of professionals implementing sound Best Practices in their operations in order to help mitigate errors and omissions exposures and stem losses that arise from professional services rendered. Whether you’re an architect, engineer, attorney, real estate agent, insurance agent, consultant or other professional, you and your firm have to ensure that you are living up to the standard of care required in your profession and that you’re dotting all your “i’s” and crossing all your “t’s” when providing your client services. We also continuously discuss the need for all employers to be vigilant about their employment practices – from creating and maintaining an updated employee handbook outlining hiring and firing procedures and having clearly defined anti-discrimination policies, etc., to training management and supervisors in pinpointing potential employee-related problems and how to deal with them according to company policy and in a timely fashion.

One simple everyday practice you can utilize is to pay attention to your clients’ and employees’ verbal cues for potential issues or problems. What do we mean by that? According to an interesting (and entertaining) article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal last month, there are certain qualifying phrases that can signal insincerity or even a form of dishonesty. Some of these phrases may irk you as they do the author of the article. They may even serve to alert you to make a mental note that things may not be coming up roses (on a job, project or at work), and you could be heading for a potential claim.

In the article, “Why Verbal Tee-Ups Like ‘To Be Honest’ Often Signal Insincerity”, everyday phrases used by many of us may indeed be code for something completely different than what we are really saying. “Tee-up” phrases are like golf balls – you tee them on a peg so you can give them a big “wallop”, cites the article. Take, for example, the phrase “Don’t take this the wrong way….” What do you think when some says this to you? That something bad will follow, right?  “Don’t take this the wrong way, but that color looks horrendous on you.”

Other “tee-up” phrases the article points out include: “I want you to know…” or “I’m just saying…” or “I hate to be the one to tell you this…” Many times, these phrases imply the opposite of what the words mean. “I’m just saying that perhaps we need the kitchen to be bigger and the plans should be changed.” If you’re an architect, that person is telling you to make the kitchen bigger.

Language experts, according to the WSJ article, have textbook names for these phrases: “performatives” or “qualifiers.” When on their own, they express a simple thought and seem relatively harmless, perhaps even polite. Yet when a qualifying phrase precedes a sentence, it could signal something bad is going to follow – or even dishonesty. “Politeness is another word for deception,” says James W. Pennebaker, chair of the psychology department of the University of Texas at Austin, who studies these phrases. “The point is to formalize social relations so you don’t have to reveal your true self.” In other words, ‘if you’re going to lie, it’s a good way to do it—because you’re not really lying. So it softens the blow,” Dr. Pennebaker says.

Another qualifying phrase is when an employee says, “To be perfectly honest” or “To tell you the truth”. This should give you a head’s up. It could mean the complete opposite and that you’re being set up. “To tell you the truth, I don’t have a problem with changing my hours” or “To be perfectly honest, his behavior didn’t offend me.”  But the reality is she does have an issue with her hours, or she does think his behavior is out of line.

Then there are phrases designed to avoid making a commitment. “As far as I know, he is happy with your work.” “I am thinking that we can make that deadline by June 5th.  “We are emotionally distancing ourselves from our statement, without even knowing it,” says Dr. Pennebaker.

The best thing to do is to be aware of these phrases and tune in to what is being said to you so you can understand as an employer or as a professional providing a service what your employees and customers really mean. This can go a long way in preventing potential issues down the road.

Axis Insurance Services, LLC provides a portfolio of professional liability and management liability insurance coverages, including Errors & Omissions for a broad range of professionals, Employment Practices Liability, Directors & Officers, Fiduciary Liability and Cyber Liability insurance for all industry sectors. Give us a call at (877) 787-5258 to find out how we can create a comprehensive program for your firm.

Source: WSJ

Comments

comments

Blogged on: February 17, 2014 by Mike Smith
Error Omissions
Error Omissions
Submit your information below so we can contact you with a FREE quote
[All fields are required.]
Actual Annual Revenue:
Verify:
=
I have read and agreed to theTerms & Conditions
Error Omissions
Error Omissions