Dependable people are hard to find.
Trustworthiness and reliability are about far more than being “nice” or helpful. They’re about consistency and following through on promises and commitments.
Here are the top habits that make someone a truly dependable person.
1. Under-promising, over-delivering
First up in the habits that make someone a truly dependable person is the practice of under-promising and over-delivering.
Truly dependable people don’t try to convince you they’re dependable.
They don’t drop constant promises and vows about what they “will” or “would” do.
Those who tend to make lots of promises have a bad reputation for a reason: think of sleazy Hollywood casting agents, financial gurus or spiritual teachers who are constantly promising to change your life, make you wealthy or get you the recognition you deserve.
Those people tend to be predators. They use their words as a lure, rather than an actual truthful statement.
Truly dependable people don’t focus on talking about what they’ll do.
They say what they are going to do and then actually do it.
This brings me to point two about the nature of reliable folks:
2. Following through on promises
When they make a promise, does somebody follow through?
We all have emergencies come up and occasional times that a promise simply can’t be fulfilled.
But dependable people will do their utmost to only promise what they’re actually going to do.
If they can’t do it for any reason, they will let all affected parties know and explain why.
This is really common sense if you think about it.
But modern life in particular has become very loose and easy with the character traits like honor and integrity that used to define interpersonal relations.
It’s not that people used to necessarily be more “moral” either, it’s simply that there were far bigger social and reputational consequences for leading people on or being unreliable.
The dependable person knows that it’s important to follow through on their promises.
They are focused on:
3. Committing for real or not at all
Many people try to be half-in on something.
“Maybe” they’ll partner with your business, “maybe” they’ll want a relationship with you in the future, “probably” they’ll meet you this weekend.
The qualifier words and “maybes” are the hallmarks of undependable people.
Dependable folks, by contrast, either commit for real or not at all.
If they can’t do something or are not sure they never say “probably” or “maybe.”
If they aren’t sure they say “probably not, but if something changes I will let you know.”
By contrast, if they say they are commiting to something it’s only because they really mean it.
This brings me to the next point.
4. Communicating clearly
Even if they are an introvert, another of the habits that make someone a truly dependable person is that they communicate clearly.
It’s hard to know what’s going on when somebody mumbles or contradicts themselves in what they say.
The trustworthy person, by contrast, speaks clearly and puts conviction behind what they say.
Instead of just mumbling “maybe” or “yeah let’s see” and half-statements like this, the dependable person makes it clear what is going on with them and their level of commitment.
They either are going to come through and be there for somebody, or they’re not.
They can either show up to fulfill a request or they can’t.
They can either fulfill new duties at a job or not.
There’s no verbal mambo-jumbo dancing around the subject.
5. Having a handle on their schedule
Of course all the good intentions in the world and dedication can’t make up for an erratic or mixed up schedule.
That’s why another of the key habits that make someone a truly dependable person is having a handle on their schedule.
Whatever their form of scheduling, the dependable person always handles their own obligations and tasks before taking on any new or voluntary ones.
Whether they schedule via alarm reminders on their phone, a physical agenda notebook or any other form, a dependable person is first and foremost dependable to themselves.
It’s not only that other folks can depend on them. This reliability starts with the dependable person’s ability to stick to their own benchmarks, commitments and schedule.
6. Anticipating problems
Next up in the habits that make someone a truly dependable person is anticipating of problems.
Another way to say this is to say that trustworthy and reliable people are always prepared.
Somebody else may have the best intentions of the world and good scheduling, but if they fail to prepare for unexpected scenarios they can fall through when the feces hits the fan.
Truly dependable people earn their reputation by being prepared.
Granted, nobody can prepare for every conceivable emergency or event, and if a meteor strikes a reliable person’s home she or he is just as dead as any of the rest of us.
But to the extent possible: reliable people plan for the future including unexpected crises!
7. Responding effectively to setbacks
Next up in terms of the most important habits that make someone a truly dependable person is that they react to setbacks in a mature and effective way.
When we hit roadblocks, we are faced with a set of choices about what to do next.
Most commonly our choice is threefold:
- Give up and become a victim
- Ignore the roadblock and double down
- Assess what the roadblock or setback means and decide what to do next without giving up
The third option is the best by far and is what a reliable person does.
They don’t give up or embrace a victim mentality, but they also don’t blindly plow ahead, ignoring any lessons in the setback.
Instead, they take failure and setback as a learning opportunity and then continue on with the increased knowledge and willpower the setback has given them.
They work to fix whatever went wrong and understand it, rather than wallowing in the self-pity of disappointment.
“They know what they need to do, formulate a plan, and get to work.
If something goes wrong, they diagnose the issue and do everything in their power to fix it as quickly as possible without wasting resources or time.”
8. Thinking long-term
Last up in the key habits that make someone a truly dependable person is long-termism.
Long-termism is the philosophy and practice of thinking long-term.
This can be in business, in one’s relationships or even in investments and purchasing decisions of how to use your money.
The truly dependable person has their mind and energy set on long-term goals and visions.
They adjust to setbacks as they come, but they don’t start up or change long-term goals all the time.
Instead, they have core values and motivations guiding them in what they do.
People are drawn to them and trust them because they can see that the reliable individual is in it for the long haul.
It’s the same as buying a TV from a company you’ve never heard of with no customer service, or buying one from a reputed international brand with grade A customer support and a long-term plan for improving their products.
Most people will go for the second option.
A truly dependable person is somebody with a stake in the future, not just a carpetbagger passing through, and that makes all the difference.
You can count on me
A truly dependable person doesn’t have to tell you they are dependable.
Their actions and habits make it crystal clear that they are reliable and trustworthy.
There are far too many people over-promising and under-delivering.
The truly dependable person won’t ever try to convince you of their value or show off about it; instead, their character and reliability will come through loud and clear through their actions and habits.