Word of the Month: Reliability

When we think of reliability, we tend to think about objects: cars, phones, appliances, and so on. We want such objects to be reliable, and when we’re shopping for new ones, reliability can be a top consideration. But reliability is also important when it comes to people. When we’re reliable, it means that we do our best to keep our commitments to others—and we promptly let those other people know if we’re not going to be able to keep a commitment.

Reliability also is related to sticking with someone through thick and thin. According to the Roman philosopher Cicero, “The shifts of fortune test the reliability of friends.” Friendships may eventually end for various reasons, but while the friendship is ongoing, we are there for a friend in good times and bad, if we’re reliable.

Sometimes it seems that reliability is looked at as boring. Being reliable doesn’t mean we’re always in the same place doing the same thing. We can move or change jobs or try new activities and still be reliable. The essence of reliability is that we can be counted on, that our word means something. It comes down to being dependable and keeping our promises as much as possible, both of which benefit our friendships and other relationships.

See more features from the October 2014 issue