Which Handyman Would You Hire?


If you’re like me, you probably need to hire a handyman from time to time. In my case, it’s because I have no home repair skills. With tools in my hands, I often do more harm than good, so I readily relinquish all tool-wielding responsibilities to a professional. The question then becomes, How do I hire the right person for the job?

One popular source is Craigslist. As we all know, it’s a place where just about anybody can advertise the services they offer or something to sell. In my search for a competent handyman, I ran across these two ads for people in my area. Now I have to decide which one will deliver the results I want.

Advertisement #1

Handyman for Hire. I have three tools—a hammer, a Phillips-head screwdriver, and needle-nose pliers—that I use on every job. In fact, these are the only tools I ever use and sometimes they work. Overall, I get mixed results; however, I’m very comfortable with my three tools, so I operate on auto-pilot most of the time. Call me at 555-1212.

Advertisement #2

Handyman for Hire. I have a wide variety of tools available to me. I mindfully choose the right tool for the job, based on the needs of the situation and the people involved. I never hesitate to use a particular tool—even those that are somewhat new to me—because I know there is a compelling reason to use it. With this approach, I consistently get good results. When I don’t, I simply make some adjustments and eventually get it right. Call me at 555-1234.

Which Handyman are You?

I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely calling the second handyman. Who in the world would hire someone who has such a limited set of tools? Unfortunately, I meet many people who conduct themselves like Handyman #1. They use the same approach with every person and situation. They act as if they have only a handful of strengths (i.e., tools in their relational toolbox) and attempt to use them in every situation—whether they are the right tools for the job or not. Needless to say, their results are inconsistent, often leaving themselves and others frustrated.

I believe everyone—yes, everyone has a wide array of strengths available to them. In the work my colleagues and I do, we have each client complete a Strengths Portrait where they see their 28 relational strengths and consider some compelling reasons for using each of the strengths. It’s an eye-opening experience as they recognize the tools they use most often and even more importantly, some of the other options available to them. For example, someone might have a natural preference for strengths like caring, helpful, and trusting; however, it’s empowering for them to understand that they can also be self-confident and persuasive if the situation calls for it.

The big idea is that you need to bring the right strengths when dealing with people. It begins with knowing the strengths that are available (probably more than you presently think), identifying the approach that will work best with the other people involved, and then understanding the good reasons you have for using those strengths—even if they’re a bit uncomfortable.

While you may never advertise your ability, you can always bring the right strengths—and other people will notice. This could even be the reason that you’re selected for that big promotion or new job, or are able to close the deal with an elite client. If it’s not any of those things, it might simply be the satisfaction of knowing that you’re serving your customers well and getting the job done right.

Which handyman do you want to be?

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Dr. Mike Patterson is a principal at Core Strengths and an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Education and Psychology. He is also the co-author of Core Strengths: Results through Relationships training and the highly acclaimed book, Have a Nice Conflict: How to Find Success and Satisfaction in the Most Unlikely Places. Contact him at

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