Be More Reliable With These Simple Habits
Reliability is the most important trait in a friend to me. It used to be a good sense of humor. Once it was ambition. Creativity used to be huge for me. But the older I got the more I realized that, while those traits are nice, they count for absolutely nothing if the person isn’t reliable. What good is a hilarious friend who stands you up at brunch because she forgot to set her morning alarm? How inspiring can your creative friend be if she only drops in for 15 minutes of your dinner party because she triple booked herself that night? Let’s not mention how disrespectful it is of your own time when someone is unreliable. I don’t care how charming or lovely someone is these days: if I can’t count on them to do the things they say they’ll do, I’d rather not make room for them in my life. If you want to be a more reliable person, developing these habits can instantly help.
Make concrete plans
Don’t say, “Let’s get together some time next month.” Don’t say “We will do it sometime in the afternoon—we can talk more about it the day of.” Pick a day, and pick a time.
Make plans now
If you’re talking to the person you want to make plans with right now, then make plans *right now.* You both have access to your calendars on your phones and you’re chatting right now! Saying you’ll make plans “some time” is the flakiest habit of all. You’re making plans in the future to then make plans for another vague time? That’s ridiculous.
Confirm plans the morning of or even day before those plans. Everyone appreciates knowing for certain that you’re still on for your plans.
You respond to texts in a timely manner
Even if it’s to say you’ll have to get back to them later because you don’t have all the information you need now, send that. Looking at a text and telling yourself you’ll reply later never works out. Give some sort of answer now.
Set calendar reminders
If someone asks you to walk their dog, grab their mail, or pick them up, set a calendar reminder. Tell them you’re setting one. Show them the reminder. Overall, just take extra precautions to make sure you do what you say you’ll do. Send yourself emails and set alarms. Everyone has access to these tools so relying on your memory alone and forgetting is not a good excuse.
Only take on what you can
Don’t say yes to more than you can handle. Even though it feels good to give a yes now, if you can’t really do it, then it’s a fake yes. People usually prefer a real no over a fake yes so that they can actually know what to expect.
Only cancel for illness and emergencies
Tell yourself that the only good reason to cancel is illness or a true emergency. If you cancel on people because you don’t feel like it, are tired, have a mild headache, or found something else you’d like to do, then they won’t feel they can rely on you.
And make it up to them
When you absolutely must cancel, try to make it up to people. Send someone in your place, if it’s help that was needed (help moving, help dog walking). Send a note. Give a small gift. When you mess up, showing that you understand the significance of that goes a long way.
Give everyone their time
Overbooking is almost the same thing as double booking. If your friend asks you to have lunch, there is an unspoken understanding that that lunch will last more than 45 minutes. So don’t plan lunch with one friend at 1pm and coffee with another at 2pm. The first friend probably put aside much longer for this interaction.
Be realistic about how long things take
Be brutally honest with yourself about how long things take. Sure, under the best of circumstances, a certain drive takes 20 minutes. But how often do the best of circumstances occur? There is almost always a traffic jam on that route and then finding parking takes another 15 minutes. In your calendar, leave yourself plenty of time to get places.
Apologize when you mess up
When you mess up, apologize. Don’t make excuses. You have to understand that the fact that you forgot or this or that came up doesn’t change the fact that a person held time in their schedule for you, and you flaked. They don’t get that time back. None of your excuses give them that time back. If they’re good at forgiveness, then apologize and you might get another chance.
Assume everyone is very busy
It’s best to assume that everyone is very, very busy. If people don’t tell you they are, that’s simply because they don’t want to come off as self-important. But yes, usually when someone makes a plan with you, there were several other things they could have been doing and they chose you. Consider it an honor when people make time for you and respect that.
You can’t earn the right to be flaky
If you are unreliable, don’t list off past times you were reliable as reasons you should be let off the hook this time you were unreliable. Being reliable doesn’t earn you the right to be unreliable. That mindset will get you un-friended.
Don’t make plans under the influence
Don’t make plans when you’re drunk, or under the influence of any other substance. You won’t remember those plans—but the other person might. And then you might accidentally flake.
Only befriend reliable people
If you only surround yourself with reliable people, then you’ll be forced to become reliable. They will get upset with you when you flake, and that won’t feel good—so you’ll work to tighten up your act.