Why is it easier to be reactive than it is to be proactive? Being proactive takes work. I believe when you are responding to an event or an emotion you already have the knowledge of what has taken place and therefore you are able to react to what has occurred. Reaction is quick and easy, but not always best.
To be proactive you must be creative and give thought to your response and how your response will be received, how your response will affect the situation and the outcome. You are thinking into the future. Most people would rather act than think. It is ironic that reactive and creative share the same letters. Rearrange the letters and you have creative, rearrange your thoughts, and become proactive. Being creative in and giving thought to your response is being proactive.
Habit 1 from The 7 Habits…
In the classic best-selling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Stephen R. Covey begins the book with Habit 1: Be Proactive. In this chapter he shares with the reader the Proactive Model where between stimulus and response we have the freedom to choose. How will you choose to respond? What are your choices. I will give you some options below, timing, perspective, what if…
I can think of many times in my career and life when I chose the quick and easy reaction and responded with anger, frustration, demands, insults. There was no thought to my response it was an immediate reaction. My response was an outward action of an internal emotion without care or concern of how my reaction would affect myself or others.
These reactive responses are never well thought out or advantageous to the matter at hand, but they are self-serving to release steam and “show yourself.” You can initially feel relieved that you have given a display of your feelings, however, the relief is short lived when you consider the impact of your outburst and the lost influence you now have with others.
Timing Your Response…
One thing I have learned (the hard way) is most of my responses do not need to be immediate. I can choose to carefully listen to someone, ask clarifying questions and give my response intentional thought. Depending upon the situation the proactive response may be moments, hours, or days away.
When considering your response to another person use the wise counsel of “always assume positive intent.” Although you may not agree with the method of delivery or even the other persons perspective, you need to assume they are truly looking for a positive outcome. This will help you when thinking of the many options for a response that is proactive. Take time to consider their perspective and respond with that in mind.
What if Scenarios…
Now that you are thinking about a proactive response go through the what if scenarios. Read through your written response or think through your verbal response. Give thoughtful consideration on how someone else will perceive your response. Look at it through their eyes.
Questions to consider:
- Will my response be received positively from their perspective?
- Are there accusatory or belittling words in my response?
- Have I addressed all the concerns that were presented?
- Will this response get the results that are best for everyone?
In conclusion, I encourage you to be a proactive person and a thoughtful person. These character traits will give you better influence and less stress in your life.
Brian Brogen is a Coach, Trainer and Speaker with an emphasis on communication and team building. As a certified human behavior expert, Brian has a knack for developing teams and individuals both personally and professionally. Brian works with organizations and individuals, coaching and training using his experience, knowledge, tenacity, and sense of humor.
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