Being reliable is an important building block in the foundation of your life.
We have all experienced reliable and unreliable people . We admire the reliable, and avoid the unreliable. So how do you become a person worthy of admiration?
A reliable person forges deeper relationships. Relationships are built on trust; without them, they wither and die. Being reliable builds that trust – your friends and loved ones know that they can count on you to keep your word, be there when you’ll say you’ll be, and do what you say you’ll do. They feel secure that you’ll be the same person day after day, no matter what happens. An unreliable person can be capricious with their heart, showing people affection one day and then becoming remote the next. They can be patient with your weaknesses on one day, and rageful at the slightest provocation the next. If your mood and behavior is inconsistent and unreliable, people you love will naturally withdraw from you because they feel they have to walk on eggshells in your presence.
Reliable people receive greater opportunities. When people see that you can be relied upon, they will give you more challenging tasks and responsibilities that will in turn allow you to grow, learn, and become a leader. A boss promotes a reliable employee to higher positions; the professor offers research opportunities to the reliable student; the team picks the reliable person as its captain. On the other hand, when the person is unreliable, expectations from them diminish. It can easily become a self-perpetuating cycle, destining him or her to remain a follower.
Reliable people have more freedom. An unreliable person always has someone looking over their shoulder to make sure she did the right thing and did not make a mistake. Reliable people receive much less supervision and are given greater responsibility over time. People come to depend on him or her to get the job done, even if given the roughest outline of what needs to be done.
Reliable people live with confidence, integrity and clear consciences. They keep their promises, and obligations. Not only can other people count on them, but a reliable person can count on themselves. This breeds the courage and confidence one needs to take on greater challenges and adventures.
The reliable person leads a simpler life. When you’re the same person every day, in every situation, one doesn’t need to make up excuses for breaking promises, or live with the regret of letting others down.
15 Maxims for Being a Reliable Person
1. Keep your promises. Being a person of your word is the cornerstone of reliability. If you tell someone you’re going to do something in X amount of time, you better move heaven and earth to fulfill that promise. This is often easier said than done because often we predict we’ll have more time in our schedule than we have. You still have make good on your word even if more appealing opportunities arise. This is why it is imperative that you make commitments reluctantly.
2. Don’t overpromise. The promise of the reliable man is an extremely valuable thing because it will unswervingly be completed. For this reason, you will find yourself being asked by others to take more responsibility and will be offered more opportunities. Some of them give you valuable opportunities for growth, learning and leadership. But some will just push yourself too far and take you farther from, not closer, your goals and priorities.
Being reliable does not mean saying yes to everyone – just the opposite. Reliable people must use great discretion when they make promises to others. The effect of not being discriminating is 1) an overly optimistic prediction of how much free time we will have, and 2) a desire to please others. To counter these causes, you should:
- Ask yourself whether you could do it tomorrow. If you feel like there’s no way you could do something tomorrow because you’re too busy, and you can’t rearrange your schedule to make room for it, then you can be sure that you won’t feel differently in a month from now, and will regret making the commitment.
- Double your estimate for how long you think it will take. Part of our over-optimistic forecasts for the future is to think an event or task will take less time than it will actually take. When weighing whether to commit to something, doubling your estimate will allow you to make sure you can really fit it into your schedule. Better to over deliver than over promise.
- Give yourself a day to think about it. It can be hard to say no at this point – you’ll feel the pressure to please. Just tell the asker that you need to look over your schedule, and you will back to them the next day. This will give you time to really think about it instead of responding on impulse and regretting it later.
- Learn to say “no” firmly but politely. This is one of the most important skills a person can master. Do not provide wishy-washy answers like “maybe”. Be clear and direct. We often feel as though turning others down is not nice. It is much more ruder to commit to something, and then later bow at the last minute, or to fulfill the commitment poorly.
3. Manage expectations. When you make a promise or take on a job, be careful to be realistic about when and what you will deliver. Inflated expectations can lead to huge disappointments and damage your reputation.
4. Don’t leave other people hanging. If you make a promise that you can’t meet because of truly terrible and unforeseen circumstances, let the person know as soon as possible. Bite the bullet and do not wait until the last minute to tell them that you can not do it. If you are late, call ahead to let the person know that when you will meet instead of letting them wonder where you are. Always strive to be quick in your responses to the online communication. Do your best to respond within 24-48 hours after receiving a text or an e-mail, even if it’s just to say “I can not give you an answer right away, but will focus on it and get back to you as soon as I can.
5. Whatever you do, do it well. The maxim: “If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well,” has been around for a couple of centuries, and is just as true today as it has ever been. Do your best work without regard to whether the job is rewarding and important , or menial and mindless. Some people justify working half-heartedly when they believe the job is “beneath” them, saying that they’d put in a real effort if the work was commensurate with their talents and abilities. But it’s the man who takes pride in his work, whatever it is, who moves ahead; he who cannot be trusted with little things, will never be trusted with big things.
6. Be consistent. Consistency is a huge part of reliability. People who lack consistency fail to gain the trust of others. The reliable man develops consistency by setting goals for himself that stretch and challenge him, but are doable day after day.
7. Finish what you start. Carefully decide what projects you will begin — do not rush into things in the heat of enthusiasm — and then see it through to the end.
8. Pull your weight and shoulder your own responsibilities. When you’re on a team or working on a group project, other people are counting on you. When you don’t fulfill your part, you imperil their success, and unfairly increase their burden.
9. Be honest. We also offer opinions to others, and if they contain untruths, people will not trust us. Deceiving others is not simply a matter of lying, cheating, and stealing. It can be in a look or a gesture. We can tell a lie by omission or when we pass along gossip. Anything that leads people to believe something that isn’t true is dishonest.
10. Be punctual. If you tell someone you meet at a certain time, you have made a promise. Being on time shows others that you are a person of your word.
11. Be fair and consistent in rewards and punishments. A reliable person makes the expectation that must be met to earn a reward very clear. When those standards are met or violated, he doles out rewards or punishment without regard to favoritism or mood. People know exactly what to expect from him, and this builds the resiliency of those under his leadership.
13. Don’t let circumstances dictate your behavior. Your values, ethics, morals, purpose, and so on should not be contingent on circumstances. The person who chooses to be happy can be happy anywhere, while the person who wishes to complain will find a reason even the most favorable situations. The reliable person makes the most of whatever hand he is dealt.
14. Don’t collapse in emergencies. Your reliability will be tested most during a crisis. The reliable person practices and prepares for emergencies so she knows just what to do in a crisis. A reliable person cultivates the virtues of courage and resilience.
15. Show up. A big part of life is simply making the effort to show up. Show up to work on time, and be there every day, consistently. Show up at the party you promised to attend. Show up to your friend’s play, even if he only has a bit part. A reliable person means being a good friend. When a friend needs support, she knows with absolute certainty, you will come.