Reactive v Responsive | Alyssa J Cori: Reactive v Responsive

January 14, 2015

Reactive v Responsive

When looking at the title of this post you may be slightly confused. "What is the difference between reactive and responsive" you think, "Isn't it just semantics?" Well, I'm here to tell you that there is a good deal which distinguishes the two.

Picture this (true story): You have just sent out your resume for a few internship positions and you feel really good about your chances. Just to admire it, you pull out your resume and take a look when horror of horrors you see not one, but two mistakes! Not just any mistakes, oh no, but spelling mistakes in the titles of your categories.

Reactive v Responsive |

What do you do? The reactive response (which sadly is the one that I took) would include you calling your mother in a panic, telling her that there is now no chance of you ever in a million years getting an internship, that you are destined for ultimate career failure, and you might as well book your place in the poor house because that is the only viable option now. Where does this get you? Absolutely nowhere. What should you (I) have done?

Taken the responsive course of action, naturally. Instead of reacting immediately without stepping back and evaluating how bad the situation actually is, what can be done to amend it, and how to move forward, you have instead caused yourself and others a headache without accomplishing anything. Being responsive means stopping, breathing, identifying the magnitude of the problem, coming up with ways to fix it, taking those steps, and being accepting of the results.

With the resume example above, I should have refrained from calling my mother in a panic (that poor women is a saint with how she always listens to my problems!), realized that I could fix my resume and resubmit it and hopefully the companies would not have read my first one yet, accept that at this point it was out of my control, and learn for next time. This approach, although easily explained, is hard for me, and I would think others, in practice especially when it has to do with something you've worked hard for. However, you gain nothing by being reactive so the only logical thing to do is be responsive.

Therefore, I am continuing in my quest to be a responsive person and urge you to do the same. Taking those few seconds to think logically can save you hours of anxiety.

How do you remain calm when things don't go as planned? Do you agree that there is a difference between being reactive and responsive?


P.S. I did end up getting an internship for this summer with a great company so things do have a way of working out!

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