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When major change occurs, everyone has similar types of feelings. Fear, anxiety, and loss of control are often experienced. However, what differs is how people react to that change. One can act in a reactive or proactive manner.
Being reactive means people let change happen and then they respond or adapt to it (Figure 1). They see change as loss or a threat in this situation. Being proactive (Figure 2) means people plan for change and are open to new or multiple ways of doing things. They see change as an opportunity in this instance. Or, they are at least open to reframing how they view the change.
In the long term, how one interacts with change is the difference between surviving and thriving in one's personal life, family life, or one's work or business life. How a person views a change influences how that person will communicate, make decisions, and solve problems around that change.
Reactive or proactive responses to change are really not two separate responses to change but rather two ends of a continuum (Figure 3). People can have an overall orientation toward change that means that a person most often responds in a certain way. But it is also true that, depending upon the intensity of meaning of a specific change, a person could react differently than usual. For instance, a person may usually respond to change in a fairly positive and proactive way. But, that same person could have a huge sense of loss if they lost a job or business that they felt frames who they are.
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