Drivers and pedestrians depend on a bridge because it consistently does its job, and coworkers, family members, and friends can count on you to the extent you show dependability.
A bridge connects the two sides of a riverbed or valley, benefitting both sides. Similarly, dependability allows a person to maintain good relationships.
Everyday words and actions will reinforce or weaken these relational bridges. Little inconsistencies, misunderstandings, or insults erode the foundation of trust until the bridge collapses.
Take your words seriously. When someone agrees to attend an event and then does not show up, his or her promises lose value. Communicate as accurately as you can. Do not commit to something unless you are sure you can keep your word.
Sometimes one side does not recognize the erosion taking place, and the collapse comes as a complete surprise. Other times one side attributes the collapse to a defect on the other side.
A parent might say, “We will go to the zoo again,” but a child might hear, “We will go to the zoo next weekend.” Coworkers from one culture might think they are being honest, and someone from another culture might think they are being unkind.
Take responsibility for your contribution to professional and personal relationships. Ask questions in order to confirm your understanding, and learn how to honor local, cultural, and personal sensibilities.
Just as engineers design a bridge to endure floods, high winds, heavy traffic, and the changing seasons, your commitments must endure unexpected hardship.
After a computer crash, you might have to spend extra time reentering data so that coworkers do not miss deadlines. When you say you will have something done by a certain time, make sure you deliver.
Recognize the responsibilities you have at work and at home, and do whatever you must do to fulfill your obligations.