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November 2012 – Reliability


Capable of being relied on; dependable.

  1. “When friendships are real, they are not glass threads or frost work, but the solidest things we can know.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
  2. “You need not wonder whether you should have an unreliable person as a friend. An unreliable person is nobody’s friend.”  ~ Idries Shah
  3. Simplicity is prerequisite for reliability. ~ Edsger Dijkstra
  4. “The only lifelong, reliable motivations are those that come from within, and one of the strongest of those is the joy and pride that grow from knowing that you’ve just done something as well as you can do it.” ~ Lloyd Dobens

A person who does as promised can be considered reliable. Reliability is an admirable social character trait. People don’t like to deal with those who are unreliable. They’d rather give their business and rewards to the person they can count on. Also, the reliable person feels good, knowing that he or she is trusted.

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 he/she promised to do, he/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 one is a conscientious person. A reliable person does not make excuses.

Benefits of being reliable:

Certainly, one would want to associate with reliable people. 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 deliver on projects and fulfill their assignments.

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 socially and professionally.

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 and repair.

Admirable trait:

Being reliable is an admirable trait. People thank you for it. You earn a solid reputation, and you also feel good about yourself when you do as promised.

An unreliable person shows, either directly or indirectly, that he or she doesn’t put the needs others as one of their top priorities. You can’t count on such a person. The benefits of being reliable include promotions at work, better personal relationships, and increased self-esteem.

Children’s Activities on Reliability:

A valuable concept to impart to children at an early age is the importance of being reliable. If you’re a parent or a teacher who is looking to teach children about the concept of reliability, there are several activities that can be used to teach children about what the word means and why it is important in their relationships with others.


Create a card game or board game that is designed for players to answer questions on. Questions can be created to offer a variety of settings that ask, “What is the right thing to do?” in order to act in a reliable manner. For example, a question might relate to what a child should do if he or she finds a wallet. Another question might be about the sequence in which a list of tasks should be performed to see if the child selects the important ones or the fun ones first.

An alternative game is one in which each player is assigned a role to play. In this case, the completion of the overall task in the game requires the reliable cooperation of all the children.

Art Projects

Purchase construction paper and poster board at an art supply store or a retailer. Children can use these supplies to create a make-believe story board that allows them to place characters in situations that address the concept of reliability. Children can draw or paint out characters on construction paper and then cut them out. Scenes could include a child promising to do their homework before watching TV or a parent promising to take their child out for pizza if he made good grades on his report card. You can also make this activity a group one in which each member of the group has to demonstrate reliability by doing their part. For example, one child might be assigned the task of organizing the materials, while another might have to clean brushes. Completing their assigned task would demonstrate reliability.

Plays and Songs

Develop a play with the theme of someone who is consistently unreliable and the consequences of that behavior. Another option is to add new lyrics to an existing song with the help of students in your classroom or at home, creating a list of unreliable actions. Afterward, children can perform the song in front of an audience or in class. A creative endeavor will make learning the concept of reliability more enjoyable, and children will be more enthusiastic about participating in the activity. Children will also be more likely to retain what they have learned if the process of learning feels more like playtime.

Books to share with your children:

  • “Depend on Me” by Angela Leeper
  • “Very Like a Star” by Dawn L. Watkins
  • “Inger’s Promise” by Jami Parkinson
  • “Let’s Bee Friends” by Anna Prokos

Reliability in the workplace:

Reliability is a key component of work performance. In fact, often “good quality work” will not be enough to make up for a lack of reliability. Reliability is one of those qualities that is either present or absent. You cannot be “partially reliable” or even “mostly reliable.” To be reliable means to be consistent, regardless of the amount of extra effort it takes. Do you consider yourself to be reliable?

Here is something you can do to assess your reliability at work. For each of the questions listed consider: who did my behavior impact? How can I consistently continue this positive behavior? Or, how can I change this negative behavior?

1. Name three times recently when you went out of your way to demonstrate reliability. (These can be small examples. It is the small things that count the most over time). Who benefited from your efforts and how can you continue this positive behavior?

2. Have there been times in the past three months when you did not deliver as you promised, (e.g., you missed a deadline, you were late, you failed to follow through, etc.?) Who did your behavior impact, and how can you do better in the future?

3. Do you know what your reputation is as far as reliability is concerned? Do others believe they can count on you consistently? Is there anything you can do to assure them that they can count on you consistently?

4. Repeatedly being trusted to get the job done right the first time often correlates to reliability. In the past three months, how often were you considered the “go-to” person to get it done right the first time?

5. Has your supervisor stopped requesting you to do a particular task? Could this be related to your reliability?

6. Do others seem to have confidence in your ability to deliver? When someone asks you to complete a task, do they then “let go” and assume that you will take care of it?

7. Producing good quality work with consistency is part of reliability. Prior to saying your work is “finished,” do you take the extra time to make sure that it is truly the best you could do for the task you were assigned?
Reliability is more than a word, a skill set or a behavior.