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Nov 01 2017
Being Proactive Rather Than Reactive
DeAnna Leahy, CCE, Sunroc Corporation

The difficult situations in life don't always bring out the best in us. In fact, sometimes these tough situations can bring out the very worst version of ourselves and cause us to experience unpleasant emotions such as fear, anger, and anxiety. These situations can also cause us to do and say things that we typically would not say or do, or things that we may regret later. One possible solution to turning these negative situations around is the basic idea of being proactive rather than reactive. The key to harnessing the power of this approach is to be able to own these difficult situations instead of letting the problems steer you.

The next time you are in a problematic situation that is starting to get the better of you, try these tips for being proactive rather than reactive.

First, understand the difference between bring proactive rather than reactive. To be proactive you need to own your decisions, actions, and life, despite what other people do. You are committed to move forward in the direction that you determine, rather than being tossed about by the ideas and actions of someone else. You are the one calling the shots and are in control. Proactive people commit to controlling their own feelings and behaviors as much as they possibly can rather than respond to the moods and actions of others.

Second, don't respond right away. It is not always easy when someone comes at you with a problem that gets you fired up. So how do you avoid a knee-jerk reaction when dealing with a negative person that might just be looking for a reaction from you without playing into the situation? The first step is to take a moment before responding. Try to refrain from reacting right away. Take a deep breath and allow yourself to take a minute before responding.

Third, let go of your personal attachment to the situation at hand. Our egos are there to protect us, but sometimes it can have the opposite effect. If you get defensive about the problem you're dealing with, it will not help you at all. Instead, try to make an effort to rise above all that. Ask yourself if you are taking this more personally than you should be. Step away from the problem and ask yourself if it will really matter to you five years from now. This will allow you to gain some distance and help you see the big picture more clearly.

Fourth, stay calm. You can't control others. You are really only responsible for your own actions. Make sure you feel calm before you respond.

Fifth, think about how you can contribute to the situation in a positive way. You are not trying to solve the problem for the other person, you are simply trying to find a way to contribute something empowering and encouraging.

Finally, learn something from the difficult situation. Shift the focus away from the problem and place your energy on your own personal growth and development. Learn from your mistakes and from the difficult situations that you encounter. This will help you feel more in control of your actions and emotions.