Are You Reliable?

Bill Abbate
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

What do the words reliable and dependable mean to you? Do you consider yourself reliable? Can others depend on you? How do you deal with people who are not reliable or on which you cannot depend? Have you considered how important these words are to your life and future?

There is little doubt one of the greatest abilities you can develop to propel your career and improve your life is to be reliable and dependable.

"The greatest ability is dependability." Bob Jones, Sr. (1883-1968)

Let's look at what it means to develop this ability and the tremendous impact it can create in your life.

What it means to be reliable and dependable

While reliable and dependable are synonyms, there is supposedly a slight difference in the application of the two. Some sources claim reliability is more about things while dependability is more about people. Yet this distinction is not always true in everyday usage. For this article, we will use the terms somewhat interchangeably. To further clarify the meaning of each word, the Oxford Languages dictionary defines them as:

Reliable (adjective) - consistently good in quality or performance; able to be trusted.
Reliable (noun) - a person or thing with trustworthy qualities.
Dependable (adjective) - trustworthy and reliable.

If you have not thought about how being reliable or dependable affects your career and life, you will find genuine value in the rest of this article.

Four aspects of being reliable or dependable

One of the most important things about the words reliable and dependable is that they create (1) trust, as pointed out in their definitions. What you trust you (2) value. What you value, you (3) respect, and (4) appreciate. Let's look at these four aspects of being reliable or dependable.


"Reliability is the precondition for trust." Wolfgang Schauble (1942-present)

What would the world be without trust? Trust is vital to life and safety. It is essential to our relationships and businesses. Without trust, the world would be in a perpetually hostile state. Because of the lack of trust between the United States, the Soviet Union, and their respective allies, the Cold War lasted 32 years! Unfortunately, with the recent news in Ukraine, we may be headed back in that direction.

Loss of trust severely erodes goodwill in every type of relationship, whether it is a country, business, or personal connection. One of the quickest ways to destroy trust is to become unreliable. This is as true for another person as something tangible, such as an automobile. It is also true for something intangible, such as our confidence, belief system, love, and countless other things.

"Trust is the glue of life. It's the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It's the foundational principle that holds all relationships." Stephen Covey (1932-2012)


The value you place on someone because of their dependability goes without saying, as does valuing something because of its reliability. Most of us will pay more for something reliable when spending our hard-earned money. If it is not reliable, we expect to pay less.

In business, reliability and dependability are as valuable as they are necessary. As an employer, a dependable employee who can be relied on is far more valuable than one who regularly drops the ball or lets you down. If you are not dependable as an employee, you can lose your job. As a customer, reliability, and dependability can keep you coming back.

"Ability is a wonderful thing, but its value is greatly enhanced by dependability. Ability implies repeatability and accountability." Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988)


As the old sayings go, "respect begets respect" and "respect is earned, not given." When you have proven you can be depended on, you not only deserve respect, but you have earned it. This is true in any relationship, whether a friend, boss, spouse, or someone else. Knowing they can count on you is crucial to the relationship's sustainability. Why? Because they know they can trust you. When they trust you, they automatically value and appreciate you.

Think about the people you respect. They are trustworthy and dependable. You respect those you know you can rely on in a pinch. While at the opposite end, when people hold you up or show up late, they do not respect you and your time. Not a good feeling, is it?

If you are in business, you respect dependable employees. Providing reliable products and services earns the respect of customers and keeps them coming back. As the old saying goes, respect makes the world go 'round

"Reliability is a trait that attracts the respect and admiration of others." Unknown author


Tied to respect is the admiration and appreciation of whomever or whatever respect is due. You can appreciate your car's reliability, for example. You can also appreciate the dependability of your spouse, friend, employee, or boss.

When something or someone fails you, your appreciation can wain, as does your respect, trust, and the value you place on them. In business, simple common sense tells you a customer who appreciates you, your products, and services will remain loyal. This also means if you do not appreciate them, they will look elsewhere. Can you blame them?

Lose any one of the four – trust, respect, value, or appreciation, and the others will tumble as well.

"A man who lacks reliability is utterly useless." Confucius (551-479 BC)

Final thoughts

There are many other examples for the four aspects of reliability and dependability, and I would appreciate reading some of yours in the comment section below. Your input is always welcomed and valued!

I leave you with a final observation - reliability and dependability directly relate to our level of maturity. The greater they are in our lives, the more mature we are, and conversely, the less of each, the less maturity we possess.

"In adults, dependability is the fruit of maturity; in a child, it is the seed." Richard M. Eyre (1944-present)

In whatever position you serve at your job and in each of your relationships, you will be valued far more when you are known as reliable and dependable. As a friend, you will earn greater respect. As a business owner, you will create more loyalty and customer satisfaction. Your spouse will even appreciate you more. Needless to say, you will be considered trustworthy, a noble thing indeed!

There are no downsides to being reliable and dependable, except to your competitors! Take to heart the words of one of the greatest and most dependable personal development trainers to ever live:

"Ability is important in our quest for success, but dependability is critical." Zig Ziglar (1926-2012)

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA

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