Wednesday, December 10, 2008

How to be a responsible person: Definitions

Before we talk about how we can be a responsible person, we should probably ask ourselves this very first question:

"How do you define whether a person is responsible?"

Let's take a look at some of the definitions on answers.com:
  • Liable to be required to give account, as of one's actions or of the discharge of a duty or trust
  • Involving personal accountability or ability to act without guidance or superior authority
  • Able to make moral or rational decisions on one's own and therefore answerable for one's behavior
  • Able to be trusted or depended upon; reliable
  • Having the means to pay debts or fulfill obligations
To illustrate in my own words, a person has certain kind of duties depending on what roles s/he are playing in society.

Those duties are either explicitly agreed upon or implicitly defined based on those roles. For example, a web developer may sign an employment agreement that says that s/he needs to develop an e-commerce website in PHP. Though the employment agreement does not specify what database s/he should use, it is assumed that s/he would use one that work well with PHP.

Some roles are assigned to a person because s/he voluntarily accepts it (when you accept an offer to work for a company). Some other roles are automatically assigned when one performs certain action (such as giving birth to a child).

No matter how a person feels about those duties, s/he has obligations to perform them by a certain time. That deadline is either explicitly agreed upon (e.g. written on a contract) or implicitly defined based on his/her role and abilities.

In the case when s/he is not able to do the duties or do them on time, s/he should admit it proactively and honestly and have the duties fulfilled through other means such as delegation. Moreover, s/he may, using his/her own discretion, decide not to do the duties because of some moral and/or rational reason(s).

Alright, I think I've pretty much exhausted all the possibilities. My upcoming posts will be written based on the above definitions. If you disagree with them or think that I've missed something, feel free to leave a comment :)

Previous article: "How to be a responsible person: Introduction"
Next article: "How to be a responsible person: Just say NO"