Another great article from Jane: And this will be read as a beneficial article. Indeed reading this wonderful piece was a timely reminder. Copy and print this article or share with a friend if you feel they could benefit. Many thanks, Jane.

When you have a job to do, and it does not matter what, how do you tackle it? Do you get straight on to the task, hang back in the hope someone else will do it, are you pushed into it or a mix of all three?

thoughtful black businesswoman working in park

Thinking about the Job in Hand

When you are a proactive person, you are more likely to initiate an action with positivity, access what is to be done and make it happen. You will be the kind of person that takes on responsibility, accepts risks. However, this does not mean the proactive person is big on confidence, just that the “do it” message and motivation kicks in early and without the need for permission from others.

Starters get off on the first stages of a project, but they may not be eager to act or carry it through. Whereas proactive people get going, at whatever phase of the project they are at and keep going. 

Those reactive people tend to hang back, not that they are worried about the hard work ahead but make a move only when they see someone else in action. They tend only to do relevant and appropriate tasks and may spend days deliberating over the task, whereas a proactive person will make more effort.

The downside to a reactive person is that they do not go out looking for things to react to so they may find themselves procrastinating. If friends are not ringing with party invites, a true reactive will not pick up the phone. This is turn can sway them towards depression. 

Proactive or reactive have their pros and cons. An overly aggressive person can appear to be very bossy. You may feel that they push themselves into your space and are meddlesome and tactless: this will leave the reactive person feeling out of control.

Reactive people often wait for others to act, and they can stay forever and a day: this could be the guy that did not dare to ask the girl out and accepted his indecision as fate when she announced she had a partner. Or the woman that wanted to study forensic science but the fear of what if overpowered her decision making, leaving her now packing in Amazon on shifts, dreaming of being part of a dig in Egypt. 

The first thing that stops people being proactive is thinking that they are not the person who should be taking action. In some cases, this can leave the butt with you.

sad mature businessman thinking about problems in living room

Worrying About The Outcome

Reactive people may say that they have not been invited to act or are not sure of what you want from them and waiting for you to make the first move: this is intensely frustrating for a proactive person that may feel that the reactive person is just not engaging their brain and expecting more from them than what they are prepared to give. 

The next thing that can prevent a person from being proactive is feeling that the timing is wrong or could be done tomorrow or next week. They may think that the risk is too significant for them and leave the task to someone else because they do not know how to act.

Reactive people can find it challenging to overcome blocks, through lack of skill, knowledge, or support. A proactive person will research the task on say, youtube, and set to with positivity: this will frustrate the reactive person because they see, right in front of the, a mirror image of what they avoid at all costs, to be active. 

We all have our roles to play in society. A proactive person will do well in creative jobs requiring skill and structure and may regularly move from one position to another. A reactive person can stay in a job they do not like for years, waiting for their boss to sack them all because they avoid deciding to leave for a better life. 

In relationships, you will often find a reactive and proactive person working well together. One will provide the expertise, and the other provides the initiative. On the other hand, they can drive you wild because they are so reactive and will not shift character just because you want them to. Having said that if they are so reactive, they many shift characters if you tell them to.

Try this. Define clearly when, where, how and what you want someone to do. Then motivate strongly by explaining to the individual it is possible and how delighted you will be when they have completed the task. 

You might even find them offering to do more in future, and all you must do then is forget that they are acting on your orders! 

Jane Osbourne

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