What is Responsibility? 7 Concept and Keys to Being More Responsible

A helpful guide to responsibility: What is it, what does it mean to be a responsible person, how does it benefit us, how can I be a more responsible person? Discover the difference between responsibility and guilt, as well as everything you need to know about social responsibility. If you have any questions or want to share your experience with us, you can leave your comment below.

Responsabilidad Guía Completa
Responsibility Complete Guide

What do we mean when we say ‘responsibility’? If you stop to think, this concept has been hovering over our heads since we were little. Almost from the moment we begin to decide whether to obey or not and if we want to “defy authority” (mom and dad), we hear phrases like “You should be more responsible.Responsibility Complete GuideWhat do we mean when we say ‘responsibility’? 

If you stop to think, this concept has been hovering over our heads since we were little. Almost from the moment we begin to decide whether to obey or not and if we want to “defy authority” (mom and dad), we hear phrases like “You should be more responsible.

If you ask a child what it means to be responsible, they will say something like “do things right,” “do what mom and dad say,” or “do my homework and chores.” Adults use the term responsibility so that children understand and assume that it is necessary to behave well and fulfill the tasks that adults say.

Do you think that the term responsibility encompasses more than obligations? What comes to mind when we talk about responsibility?

What is responsibility? Definition

If we look at the etymological origin, the meaning of responsibility does not have so much to do with the tasks to be performed or obligations. But with commitment.

Becoming a responsible person means making conscious decisions, carrying out behaviors that seek to improve oneself or to help others. And most importantly, a responsible person accepts the consequences of their actions and their own decisions.

The word responsibility comes from the Latin “responsum” (the one obliged to answer for something or someone). The verbs “Respondere and Spondere” are closely related and were widely used in the legal field. The first meant defending or justifying a fact in a trial and the second, swearing, promising, or assuming an obligation.”

Hispanoteca – Language and culture

Therefore, we can say that a responsible person accepts the results of the decisions that they make. One might define responsibility as: “The capacity in each person to recognize and accept the consequences of an act carried out freely.”

This definition of responsibility emphasizes the need for the person who assumes responsibility to comply with the negative consequences of their actions.

From what we see, it is a term with different evaluations that can be pretty abstract but that we all take for granted and use daily.

What is the use of being responsible?

Being responsible brings us many benefits. It can help you achieve your goals and objectives in any area of ​​your life. Responsibility allows you to create values ​​and helps you direct the path of your life. Being a responsible person helps us to:

  • Be more honest: When we tend to tell the truth, and keep our promises, the people around us will believe us and they will see us as an honest person.
  • Be more autonomous: Assuming the consequences of our actions will help us to decide better.
  • Be more reliable people: By being responsible, we earn the trust of others. But more importantly, we will also gain confidence in ourselves. Doing the right thing will make us feel good. And even if we make mistakes, we will be satisfied because we know that we have done the best we could.

The value of responsibility

Responsibility is taught from childhood. Both in families and in school, they seek to  educate in values .

It is clear that everyone wants a committed and responsible partner, responsible children who do not get into trouble, responsible parents and teachers who take care of children, professionals who do their work responsibly. Why?

Because having people like this around us gives us confidence, gives us security. We think, “Yes, he is a responsible person, he will comply, and things will work out . ” Feeling safe is one of the basic needs in Maslow’s pyramid .

This is one of the reasons why responsibility is valued in such a positive way in our society. Because it provides us with security, confidence and a certain stability.

How can I be more responsible?

There is no magic formula that makes us more responsible. However, responsibility can be trained.

If you want to fulfill your purposes, your obligations and commitments, what you need is, to a large extent, predisposition and motivation. Now, if you are still here with me, it is that this exists, so I propose these guidelines to achieve it:

  1. Set goals: It is important to know what we do things for. Having a sense and a direction helps us to be consistent and continue to do our duty. If you think the goal is too long-term, set small goals to achieve it. I advise you to write them. It seems silly, but putting it on paper makes them real. If they are only in your head, if you do not comply with yourself, nobody knows. Writing your goals can help you be more responsible!
  2. Objectivity: What is in my hand and what is not? Make a list of the things that are up to you and can control. Your attention should be directed to these aspects, because what does not depend on you, is not your responsibility.
  3. Routines: If it costs you a lot of effort to “get the ball rolling”, it is better that you organize yourself. If you have a routine, you will know what you have to do at all times. But not only that, sometimes knowing how long you have to push yourself also helps. “Okay, it’s only one hour of study before going to the movies!
  4. Reward yourself: Internal attributions come into play here. If you have achieved what you had proposed, why not recognize it? It’s your moment, give yourself a tribute.
  5. Be honest with yourself: Have you failed? Was it in your power that the result would have been different? Take responsibility, assume the consequences and analyze, what could you have done differently? How would you improve it on another occasion?
  6. Share your plans: I’m not talking about posting on social media. No, I mean something more intimate. Take your brother, your mother or your best friend and tell him what you are going to do, when and how … also, let him know that you expect him to ask you how. You no longer have an escape, you have to comply!
  7. Operationalize: This means that the things that you can take responsibility for are acts. For example, cleaning your room, delivering a job, preparing food, giving a compliment. They are specific behaviors that you can assume as responsibility and obligations to fulfill, but you can not assume responsibility for the consequences. For example, that the teacher gives you a 10, that the food likes people or that the compliment is well received. This is not up to you. Therefore, specify activities and tasks that you have resources and predisposition to carry out and get on with it!

I will not fool you. Becoming a responsible person will not come overnight. In addition, it takes an effort and a commitment.

Remember,  the  key to success is consistency. I encourage you to focus and get it.

You can start by writing your final goals in capital letters and their subtypes or subgoals with hyphens below. It starts little by little, assuming responsibilities and little by little.

Remember responsibility for your actions (not for arbitrary consequences). If one day you don’t get the result you got or you haven’t found the keys to use your willpower, don’t beat yourself up . Analyze, think that you are on the right track, because you are realizing the difficulties and take up again.

Responsibility vs fault

Guilt is not the same as responsibility. Being responsible for something does not mean guilty. This that seems so drawer, in our day, is not so much. And if not … how many times have you caught yourself saying “It’s not my fault!”

To understand us, I am going to tell you a story, which may even be familiar to you:

“You found this WhatsApp as soon as you got up. You have to finish and deliver the project by 1:00 p.m. In addition, it is essential to be punctual and do things perfectly, because it is for a very important customer. You invest all morning in this assignment, all your effort. When you leave the house, you take the commuter rail, but it is late. “I should have left before, I’m going to be caught.”

You’re already 5 minutes late. You leave the outskirts and there is a demonstration that crosses the avenue “Just my luck! Did it have to be today? You manage to cross to the other sidewalk, between everything you have been 15 minutes late. You arrive at the office, you wait for the elevator … When you go up, you look at the clock before entering but … 20 minutes late. The client has left, Vanesa is going to kill you. “

  • I told you that it was very important that you arrive on time! Look what time it is! The client has left very angry because of you !. It was your responsibility!
  • Do you think I did it on purpose? It’s not my fault that the neighborhood was late and there was a demonstration cutting the avenue!

What’s going on here?

Everything you did was with good intention, effort and interest. However, different factors have caused you not to arrive on time to deliver the project. We are going to value this story

  • What is your real responsibility ?: Deliver the finished project at 1:00 p.m.
  • Whose responsibility is it that the client gets angry ?: Only the client, because we cannot control the emotions that another person feels.

Guilt has implicit components that do not help us at all. For example, it is not the same to be responsible for a decision than to be guilty of a decision . What does guilt entail?

  • Voluntary action: For someone to be guilty of something, they need an active search to get that result.
  • The result will be negative. If you are guilty of something, that something is going to be a negative product.
  • Totaliza : That we blame someone for an event, means that the only way to prevent that event from happening, would be to remove the culprit from the map. However, being responsible means that you performed certain behaviors that helped bring about that result.
  • Guilt leads us to think about the cause – consequences : Not everything in life happens because of cause and effect. Most things depend on a multitude of factors, as in the story we have seen before … Even sometimes, changing one of them does not cause us to obtain a different result. For example, if the protagonist had taken the subway instead of the suburban train, the demonstration would have been there … and he would not have been able to fulfill his responsibility (deliver the project on time).

It is important that we keep this in mind, because sometimes we take responsibility for things that we cannot control, that we could not change, even if we wished with all our might. Feeling guilty for events, results or situations that do not depend on us affects our mood, frustrates us and often makes us angry.

The same happens when they make us guilty. We see it unfair because what happened was not within our plans either. Before blaming someone, ask yourself if the negative results obtained have been intentionally sought by the other person or not. Make sure you have done everything in your power to fulfill your responsibility.

Why do I feel bad when I am not a responsible person?

In social psychology, we find Wiener’s theory, the “theory of attributions” speaks of attributions, to refer to the explanations that each one gives to the causes, reasons or when we explain the why of a result, we use the attributions. Attributions greatly influence the way we feel, the way we relate to others, and even the way we act. And of course, it influences us when it comes to assuming responsibilities.

Can we talk about :

  1. External attributions: When the explanation / cause of the events is transferred to something external. We have no responsibility. For example, when we say that “you get on my nerves” , as if we have no control and it is inevitable to feel that way. Many people use this type of attribution to avoid responsibilities, doing it in the wrong way as in the example I have given. Another case could occur when we say “it was bad luck” , implying that we have all the capacities and abilities necessary to obtain an optimal result, however, chance has negatively influenced the result = zero responsibility.
  2. Internal attributions: The explanation / cause of the facts is in ourselves. It can be used when successes are achieved “it was thanks to me”, “without my effort it would not have been possible”. But also in situations in which we know that there have been negative consequences for another and we assume that we have been involved. We ask for forgiveness taking responsibility “I’m very sorry”, “Sorry, I have not noticed.”

It is clear that a person’s attribution style can greatly influence their self-esteem , self- concept and, why not, their happiness. For example, someone who does not take responsibility for their achievements due to excessive modesty, will have a low self-concept. Giving the feeling that the achievements that he obtains never depend on him. On the contrary, a person who always takes credit for himself, will give the feeling of an arrogant and narcissistic person.

What do you think will happen if we use internal attributions for negative results and external for positive results? Exactly the same.

You have to be consistent and objective. It is good to follow the values ​​and take responsibility for the consequences of the things we do wrong, but also to be objective and give ourselves the “pleasure” of taking responsibility for the things we do well. That will give us an emotional balance and will favor our self-confidence.

Responsibility as a social value

When we speak of social value, we are referring to certain specific guidelines that are set in a given society, with the aim that the operation is correct, peaceful and leads to well-being.

Responsibility as a social value affects relationships with others, but also with oneself:


One of the angles of responsibility as a social value is commitment. We continually commit ourselves. In our work, with family, with friends, with partners … Committing means promising someone something and fulfilling.

It’s funny, because on many occasions, we make promises to ourselves and we skip them. “This Monday, yes or yes, I start to take care of myself”, “Today I work, but tomorrow I start studying”, “I’m going to go to the gym 3 days a week, no excuses.” I am totally sure that some of these purposes sound familiar to you, and also that some of you have not fulfilled. Doesn’t it seem strange to you that even if this commitment is for ourselves, we don’t carry it out? Are we too benevolent and forgive each other? Imagine what would happen if you made those promises to someone:

  • “This Monday yes or yes grandmother, I’m going to take care of you: But you don’t go.
  • “Today I work, but tomorrow I’ll help you study son”: But you won’t help him.
  • “I’m going to teach in the gym 3 days a week”: But you don’t show up.

Why do responsibilities to others seem more important than to ourselves?


The second angle of responsibility as a social value is that of obligations. On this point, I already mentioned something at the beginning of the article. They are the ones that instill in us from a young age. At each age and at each stage of life, it corresponds to us to learn and incorporate different tasks into our repertoire, to adapt to the society in which we develop and its way of life. They are our responsibilities and / or obligations.

Many times, these obligations are not said out loud, they are assumed without more. Has it never happened to you that you do something, at home for example, because at that moment you feel like it and from there, the other members of the household assume that you will always do it? For example , Mom always puts the washing machine, Dad always does the shopping, my brother always takes the dog out, I set the table. 

What happens if one day mom leaves work late? – There are no clean clothes

What if one day my brother forgets to take the dog out? – He pees at home

What happens if dad doesn’t have a car to go shopping that day? – There’s no food

They may seem like extreme examples, because generally, what happens is that responsibilities rotate between them. However, sometimes this happens and we find ourselves in situations like “Mom, I don’t have clothes!”, Dad, you haven’t bought me the cookies I like! ”, Juan, punished because the dog has peed!

I invite you to give yourselves examples in which the people around you had implicit obligations and responsibilities , not agreed, have failed to comply, and there has been a conflict when it comes to assuming the consequences. Whose responsibility is it? Whose fault is it?


Willpower could be defined when we continue to make efforts and sacrifices to achieve a goal or objective, which will bring us high satisfaction in achieving it.

This becomes more relevant when they are short-term goals. It is easier to maintain willpower. Therefore, it is good to set small goals when the effort has to remain very constant over a long period of time.

It also helps to ask why? Why did I decide to do this? Do I still want that? What do I have to do to get it? Answering these questions will give you strength and make you reaffirm your decision, prompting you to continue. Go ahead!

As always, I invite you to comment below the article, what did you think? Do you have any other ideas about what liability is? What do you do to be responsible? If you have any questions or want to share your opinion, go ahead.

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