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Being Reliable is a Positive Social Character Trait

by Ron Kurtus (revised 16 December 2013)

Being reliable means that you do what you promised to do and that others can count on you. It is a positive social character trait.

People don't like to deal with those who are unreliable. They'd rather give their business and rewards to someone they can count on.

Also, the reliable person feels good, knowing that he or she is trusted.

Questions you may have are:

This lesson will answer those questions.

Being reliable

A reliable person is one who has a track record of doing what he or she promised to do. If a person continually completes tasks she promised to do, she is then considered reliable. If a person has says he will show up at 10:30, and he is known to be reliable, you can count on him to be on time.

Being considered reliable means that you are conscientious and keep your promises. A reliable person does not make excuses.

Being unreliable

You cannot count on a person who is known to be unreliable to follow through on what he or she has promised to do. A person may promise to pick you up at the airport but then not show up, because "he forgot." Or a person may come to a meeting late, because she got involved in some other activity and lost track of time.

Renege on promises

What happens with unreliable people is that they renege on their promises. They are unreliable because the way the set their priorities. Their promise to you is not as important to them as something else.

Caught up in own interests

Some people lack the skills to complete jobs. Some lie and have no intention of doing the job. Some have good intentions but are so forgetful or caught up in their own interests that they forget or don't bother to do what they promised.

You aren't important

Often, what they are saying is that you aren't as important. A person who is unreliable at work us saying that the job is not as important to them as some other activity.

Reasons people are unreliable

If you promise to do something, the other person assumes you are good for your word. Sometimes that promise is implied or assumed. Some people will renege on their word or responsibility for a number of possible reasons.

Personal situations

The person may have lied to get out of an uncomfortable or awkward situation and never intended to do what he said.

Suppose someone asked you to come over to help with some task, which you did not really care to do. It may be easier to say you will but then never show up. The other person would think you were unreliable, especially if this happened more than once.

Something more important may have come up.

Suppose you were supposed to meet someone, but then some friends came over and wanted to go out. So you never show up, because the other activity was more important to you. Being considerate and calling the other person would be awkward, so you don't bother.

Business or work

A person at work is often late on completing assignments, either because they are too difficult or he gets sidetracked with more interesting activities. His boss and fellow workers consider him unreliable.

Benefits of being reliable

Certainly, you would want to associate with a person you can count on. Supervisors want to keep employees that are reliable and who that can count on to come to work on time and to complete assigned tasks. Such a person is trusted to do as promised.

Trust leads to promotions

The benefits of being reliable are that people trust you and feel they can count on you. A reliable person will get and keep friends much easier than someone who is careless in personal relationships and can't be counted on to keep his or her word. A reliable worker will be trusted to do the job as promised and can reap the rewards of raises and promotions.

A business that has a reputation of being reliable or making reliable products will get repeat and new business, as well as reducing costs of rework or repair.

Negative side to being reliable

On the negative side of being considered reliable, there are situations where others can soon take you for granted and not appreciate your reliability. It is a trait of human nature that if something or someone is very predictable, then those actions are not appreciated.

Although it is possible to be taken advantage of by being reliable and predictable, in the long run reliability is the best way to be.

Admirable trait

Being reliable is an admirable trait. We all dislike dealing with people who are unreliable, so being reliable is a character trait for which we should strive. People thank you for it. You get a good reputation. You also feel good about yourself when you do as promised.

It is a good feeling to be "a man of his word" or a "woman of her word."


A reliable person has a track record of keeping promises. An unreliable person shows he or she doesn't really care about others. You can't count on such a person. The benefits of being reliable include promotions at work, better personal relationships, and increased self-esteem.

If you promise something, keep that promise

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