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Subject:Is "proactive" a word From:Alex Soast <Alexander -dot- N -dot- Soast -at- DREXEL -dot- EDU> Date:Mon, 20 Oct 1997 12:33:26 -0500
Ron Rhoades asks:
>>Is "proactive" a word?
>Proactive is indeed a word, an adjective. Definition: "acting in
anticipation of future problems, needs, or changes" OR "acting in
advance to deal with an expected difficulty; anticipatory" OR "to create
or control a situation by taking the initiative or by anticipating
events (as opposed to responding to them); also loosely, innovative,
tending to make things happen". Proaction would be the noun form,
proactively the adverb.
I agree with the above response to Ron's question about proactive.
Although the word may not yet appear in the dictionary, it has become a
commonly used expression in the business world. I will rephrase the above
explanation more clearly:
A person is being proactive if they they plan ahead to prevent an
anticipated problem. This person limits (or eliminates) the possibility of
something going wrong because they carefully think about an event in
advance and say to themselves "When I conduct operation X, A, B, C could go
wrong so I will take steps 1, 2, 3 to make sure that A, B, and C do not go
The person who thought about operation X ahead of time and took steps 1-3
is being PROACTIVE. Most likely they will have few problems with operation
The person who did not give sufficient thought ahead of time to operation X
all of a sudden must REACT to problems A1, B1, and C1. Proaction occurs
before an event to PREVENT problems, Reaction occurs during or after the
event to SOLVE problems.
In other words: A clever person solves a problem (reactive), a wise person
prevents the problem (proactive).
A real life example: The Russian word for elevator starts with a character
that looks like "F". Therefore, when I bring a group of Russian visitors
to an American hotel for the first time, I will be PROACTIVE and explain to
the Russians that the red switch that says "FIRE" is not the elevator
button. This will prevent one of the Russian tourists from pulling the
Fire Alarm in a posh Washington, DC hotel when what they really want is to
call the elevator. This also prevents the entire hotel from being
evacuated and embarrassing the American tour guide.