Are You Reliable or a Flake?

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If you’re like most people, at one time or another you’ve hired a contractor to work around your house. Does this sound familiar: You contact them and wait days for a callback. They promise you’ll have an estimate the next day, but you receive it days later. They say they’ll begin work on the twelfth, and that day comes and goes. They show up with one person, even though they promised three. You’re told that the job will be completed in two days and yet it takes four. And, when the work is completed, they ask if you’re willing to serve as a reference. Really? While the final product may be excellent, the experience was awful — they were anything but reliable.

This experience isn’t limited to just contractors. Regardless of your business or position in life, if you’re not reliable, it can damage trust and credibility, ruin an experience, and even destroy a relationship.

You can be the most talented person in the world, but if you’re not reliable, you’re going nowhere fast.

How to Spot an Unreliable Person

Here are 10 warning signs of an unreliable person: 

Unresponsive. Some people are so unenthusiastic, detached, and uncaring that you just want to shake them. 

Inconsiderate. Some folks fail to return calls or emails, show up unexpectedly, and when they leave, your place looks like a battle zone. They’re just plain rude.

Self-centered. Some people are insensitive, disloyal, and greedy. They’re so opportunistic, they’ll always place their interests ahead of yours.

Erratic. Some folks show up late, say one thing yet do another, and make promises they’ll never keep. You’re never sure if you can count on them.  

Volatile. Some people are so moody you never know who they’ll be each day.

Flaky. Some folks are scatterbrained. They create false expectations, fail to follow through, and continually hit you with an unforeseen surprise. (Ugh.)

Indecisive. Some people couldn’t make a decision if their life depended on it. They procrastinate, wait till the last minute, and then expect you to help them make up for lost time. 

Weak. Some folks are spineless. They have no original thoughts or opinions of their own and are two-faced. Other than that, you can depend on them.

Careless. Some people are sloppy, lack attention to detail, and do everything half-baked. You always have to look over their shoulder.

Unprincipled. Some folks have no personal standards or scruples. They surround themselves with unsavory people, cut corners to make an extra buck, and would say or do anything if it benefitted them personally. 

Are You Reliable? The Consequences Are Huge!

Some folks have no idea how their behavior affects others. They think, “I’m reliable most of the time,” or “I get paid to deliver a product, not hand-hold people.” As an example, when people go to a fine restaurant, they expect great food, great service, and a great atmosphere. This isn’t a multiple-choice situation. Being deficient in any one area results in a poor experience for others. 

If you think that doing the right thing most of the time makes you reliable, you’re kidding yourself.

If you’re unresponsive, inconsiderate, self-centered, erratic, careless, volatile, flaky, indecisive, weak, or unprincipled — some of the time — you’re unreliable. You can refuse to accept reality, but “some of the time” isn’t good enough. 

When you behave properly on a consistent basis, it allows people to predict your behavior with some degree of confidence. BUT, if inappropriate behavior is displayed at any time during the process, it will cast a shadow on the relationship — and weaken the bonds of trust. 

Does your behavior cause people to think they never have to worry when you’re on the job? Or does it give people sleepless nights? Do your actions send the signal that you’ll always try your best and do what’s right? The truth is, it’s not only what you do, but the type of person you are that signals your reliability. When people know that you live with honor and integrity, they won’t look over your shoulder, second-guess your decisions, or question your motives. They know you have their best interest at heart — that’s called trust. And that’s the highest seal of approval anyone can receive.

Excerpted from The Path to a Meaningful Life by Frank Sonnenberg.

About the Author 

Frank Sonnenberg

Frank Sonnenberg is an award-winning author and a well-known advocate for moral character, personal values, and personal responsibility. He has written 10 books and has been named one of “America’s Top 100 Thought Leaders.” Additionally, his blog — FrankSonnenbergOnline — has attracted millions of readers and was recently named one of the “Top Self-Improvement and Personal Development Blogs” in the world and one of the “Best Inspirational Blogs On the Planet.” Frank’s newest book, Leadership by Example: Be a role model who inspires greatness in others, was released June 13, 2023.

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