Before doing business with any establishment or person we each inherently ask the question, "Can I rely on you? Certainly, the Academy Awards is asking that very same question of PricewaterhouseCoopers after Warren Beatty was given the wrong card to read for Best Picture of the year.

We all make mistakes, and PwC handled the situation promptly and took responsibility for it, so kudos to them.

The fact remains that we want to collect reliable people in our lives. We do not want to deal with those who aren't. Reliable people get and keep friends more easily, forge deeper relationships, receive the best opportunities, are granted more autonomy at work, have more self-confidence, live with integrity, and carry a clear conscience. So, to realize these benefits of being reliable, here are five simple actions you can take.

1. Manage Commitments. Being reliable does not mean saying yes to everyone. On the contrary, reliable people use discretion when they make promises to others. However, most people tend to slip on their commitments because they overestimate their available free time and want to please others.

  • Ask yourself if a commitment is a high priority for you. If it is a low priority for you today, what will really change to move it up to a high priority tomorrow?
  • Think about a commitment. Particularly if you feel pressure to please the other party, ask for a day to think about the commitment and check your schedule. Reluctant or forced commitments are always a lose-lose in the long-term.
  • Know when to say no. You can even say yes with limits. Avoid noncommittal answers like maybe. Be clear and direct. Redefine the term polite by taking the long view. You might be appeasing the other party by saying yes now, but you will ultimately disappoint them (and yourself) by over committing and then not delivering.

2. Proactively Communicate. Avoid surprises. If you make a promise that you can't meet because of truly terrible and unforeseen circumstances, let the person know as soon as possible. Bite the bullet and do not wait until the last minute to tell him or her that you cannot do it. If you are late, call ahead to let the person know when you can meet instead of letting the person wonder where you are. Respond to inquiries and emails within 24 to 48 hours, even if it's just to say "I got it and will get back to you by next week." When you use excuses and simply do not let the other party know your status, you are basically saying, "You are not important to me."

3. Start and Finish. Initiative and closure are the bookends of reliability and success. The best way to finish strong is to start strong. Keeping your word or simply doing the right thing is rarely convenient, so reliable people let their actions rise above their excuses.

4. Be Truthful. Be full of truth-tell the full truth. Deceiving others is not simply a matter of lying, cheating, and stealing. It can be in a look or a gesture. We can tell a lie by omission or when we pass along gossip. Anything that leads people to believe something that isn't true is dishonest. Does everything you use to communicate tell the full truth? If not, you are a source of unreliable information.

5. Respect Time, Yours and Others'. If you tell someone you can meet at a certain time, you have made a promise. Being on time shows others that you are a person of your word. When late, you are saying, "My time is more valuable than your time."

Take a baby step by focusing on just one action, and create a habit. You will become more reliable each day, and soon you will be the most reliable person in the room.