10 surprising characteristics of honest and reliable people

Honesty and reliability are traits that go hand-in-hand. Honest people are reliable because we count on them to always tell us the truth, and reliable people are so because they are always honest. 

However, honest and reliable people can be hard to find. The world is full of people who can be deceitful and untrustworthy; people who will treat you like a friend, but will shove you under the bus if it means they’ll get further ahead of you.

This is why honesty and reliability, in today’s day and age, are like gold—rare and precious. 

Wondering where to find them? Well, you’ve come to the right place, because in this article, we will be talking about 10 surprising characteristics of honest and reliable people, so you can surround yourself with people you can trust.

1) They always tell the truth, even when it’s difficult

Telling the truth is easier said than done. Especially with friends, we find it hard to tell hard truths. We’re scared we’re going to hurt their feelings, that they’re going to hate us or leave if we’re truthful. 

But we have to tell the truth, even if it’s hard—especially with people we love. If we truly care about them, we’d tell them the truth, especially if it means saving them from making decisions that are bad for them. 

It’s easier to tell a toxic friend that their actions are valid even if they’re hurting other people than to tell them that they are negatively affecting the people around them. 

It’s easier to tell a self-sabotaging relative that they can take their time if they’re going through something than to tell them to stop from self-destructing. 

It’s easier to tell people what they want to hear than to tell the truth, but if you truly care for them, you will have the courage to tell them the truth, even if it hurts. 

They can react negatively, they can lash out on you, and they can even attack you, but in the end, honest people always tell the truth, because they know that the truth can only set you free.

And just as they always tell the truth, people who are honest and reliable also have unyielding integrity

2) They have integrity

Having integrity means living by your morals and principles. This is how honest and reliable people live their lives. 

Sure, it’s easy to nick some cash off the register when no one’s looking, but honest people don’t do that because they have morals and they live by it.

Yes, it can be tempting to cheat on your partner when you’re certain you’re not going to get caught, but people with integrity don’t do it even if there’s a hundred percent certainty that they will not be caught, simply because they know it’s wrong. 

This is what it means to have integrity: it’s always making a conscious choice to do the right thing, even if no one’s looking, and even if it can be difficult sometimes.

Some people choose to be pragmatic, to always go the easier route, even if it means stepping on others—but people who live with integrity always choose the route that doesn’t hurt anyone, even if it’s harder. 

Because they have integrity, honest people never break promises, too. 

3) They don’t break promises

“Promises are made to be broken,” they say. 

But honest and reliable people are living proof that this is not true. For them, promises are not made to be broken; they are made to be fulfilled. 

This is how you know that if they promise you something, they will never—ever—break that promise. 

It can be as simple as promising to call after work, to promising that they will take care of your pets should anything ever happen to you. Big or small, honest and reliable people always keep their promises.  

Why? Because for them, promises are sacred. Their word is their bond. Therefore, it is against their personal principles to make promises just to break them in the end; and we already know honest people live steadfastly by their principles. 

Of course, because they keep their promises, you know that honest and reliable people always mean what they say.

4) They mean what they say

It can be hard to trust when you’re not sure if the people around you truly mean what they say. It can leave you wondering. It can even leave you questioning reality itself. 

This is what makes honest and reliable people so special. They always, always mean what they say. 

Sometimes it’s as nice and simple as telling you they think you’re the type of person who is smart and capable. Sometimes, it’s as hard and brutal as criticizing a person of authority who’s doing a horrific job—in their face. But oftentimes, they do it so easily. For them, speaking their mind is second nature.

Of course, being around someone who speaks their mind can hurt; it can be scary. But think about it this way: isn’t it nice to have someone in your life whom you can trust to always tell you the truth, even if they know you might not like it? 

And because you know they always mean what they say, you can trust that honest and reliable people don’t have ulterior motives.

5) They don’t have ulterior motives

There are many people in the world who treat people like material things—only choosing those whom they can benefit from, while avoiding the ones they think to be “useless.” To them, people are expendable. Nothing but pawns in a game they want to win.

But for honest people, this is not the case. Honest people don’t have ulterior motives. They treat people as actual human beings, because they understand that we all have feelings; that we all have wants and needs that need to be fulfilled. 

For honest people, they make friends and acquaintances not to “expand their network,” but because they are looking for real, meaningful connections. They are wise enough to know that these connections are what make life worth living—and that is why they treat people with kindness.

This is also why honest people feel so much empathy for others.

6) They are empathic

Empathy is important because it helps us understand how others are feeling, therefore guiding us on how to treat them right. It allows us to treat our friends, family, and even strangers with compassion and respect.

Practicing empathy seems so simple, but so many people often choose not to: if something makes you feel horrible, why should you do it to somebody else? 

Honest people know this, which is why they make an effort to always treat everyone with empathy. Whenever they need to make a decision, they always think, “if this was done to me, how would I feel?” This thought is central to many of their important decisions.

Part of why they are always honest is because they, too, appreciate honesty. They know it feels terrible to be lied to, which is why they avoid doing it. 

They also know it feels bad to know you’re being talked about behind your back, which is why they never do it. 

7) They don’t talk behind your back

We’ve all been guilty of gossipping about other people at least once in our lives, but honest people especially know that this is wrong. 

Gossipping is the bane of an honest person’s existence. Treating someone nicely when they’re with you just to talk crap about them when they get up and leave is just not an honest person’s piece of cake. They like treating people with utmost kindness, telling the truth when it needs to be told rather than speculating about matters that are not their business.

Honest people are rational enough to know that gossip is not to be trusted; that what other people say about strangers aren’t reliable enough to paint an accurate picture of a person. 

Most of the time, you can actually count on them to tell you when someone’s been talking about you behind your back, because they feel that they have a responsibility to always tell the truth.

8) They have a sense of responsibility

Taking responsibility means knowing you’re accountable for everything you do, both good and bad. And having a sense of responsibility means you know you are obliged to take care of someone or something, and knowing that you must fulfill this obligation. 

Honest and reliable people have a strong sense of responsibility, and they apply this in everything they do in life. 

If they want a pet, they will only adopt one if they are sure they are capable—in all ways—to take care of it, and not just because it is cute. 

If they want to start a new hobby, they acknowledge that starting new hobbies cost money, time, and effort, and take all these things into account before actually starting it. 

Moreover, when something wrong has been done, they feel a responsibility to correct it. Honest people cannot run away from the responsibility of righting the wrongs they see in the world. 

This is how you know you can rely on them, because they take responsibility in everything they do. They won’t abandon things they feel responsible for, because they know how to fulfill their obligations. 

And when they make a mistake, you can count on them to take responsibility for it. 

9) They own their mistakes

Admitting when we’re wrong is something we all find difficult, and understandably so. Being wrong can often hurt our pride, induce guilt, and feel embarrassing, but it doesn’t have to be—and honest people know this. 

Even if it can be hard, honest people always own up to their mistakes. They know when to admit they are wrong. They do not put up a fight and waste energy lying, trying to prove they are right, even if they have already been proven wrong. They know that admitting your mistakes does not equal defeat, because life is not a game. 

Honest people understand that making mistakes is part and parcel of being human, and they know that owning up to these mistakes shows everyone that they, just like everybody else, are only human. And they never forget to apologize to those they have done wrong. 

10) They trust the people around them

As people, we usually expect others to behave the way we behave around them. This is why honest people trust others so easily—because they expect people to be as honest as they are to them. 

This can also be a problem sometimes, because not everyone means what they say. Just because you’re honest does not mean others will automatically be honest to you, too. 

Nonetheless, honest people continue to trust the people around them despite this risk.

They still believe that the best way to build relationships with other people is through trust and honesty, and they will not be wrong—the strongest relationships are those built upon mutual trust and respect. Without trust, a relationship would not survive, and honest people know this all too well.

Final thoughts

The world can do better with more honest and reliable people.

Society continues to function because of the existence of honest people, and without them, it is beyond a shadow of a doubt that society will collapse.

Without honest public servants, there would be no one who will serve the real interests of the people. Without honest and principled citizens, the world would devolve into chaos and anarchy. Without honesty, there can be no trust, and we would not be able to forge meaningful relationships with other people. 

This is why it’s so important that we continue to practice honesty in our daily lives. Even if it’s something as small and seemingly insignificant as returning a stranger’s wallet back to them, values like kindness and trust continue to exist because we value honesty as well. 

Now that you know the traits of honest and reliable people, maybe you can learn a thing or two from this list and apply it in your life as well. 

Joyce Ann Isidro

Joyce is a writer who believes in the power of storytelling and changing lives by writing stories about love, relationships, and spirituality. A bookworm and art enthusiast, she considers herself a creative-at-heart who likes to satisfy her childish wonder through new hobbies and experiences.

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