What exactly is “being proactive”? How do you know what to actually DO to be proactive in any given situation?
The first proactive situation I’d like to explore is one in which things are pretty good and you want to be proactive to make them much better (for example, being proactive with a satisfied customer to convert them to an evangelist for you), or things are neutral and want to make them good (for example, kicking up a relationship from cordial acquaintance to true friendship). (We’ll explore a different proactive opportunity later this week.)
Rather than asking ourselves how we can be proactive – because what does that mean, anyway? – here is what we should ask ourselves instead:
How do I make this person’s day even better? What would thrill them? What would make them say, “That’s fantastic!”
Be careful not to make this an over-the-top thing. It doesn’t need to be. It can be small yet unexpected. It can be small and unrelated to the nature of the existing relationship. It can be small yet thoughtful and considerate.
Especially in business, but certainly in other aspects of our lives, we might have a very particular consciousness about the “walls” of the relationship – where lines are drawn, either governed by history, like the conversations we’ve had to date, or how someone else has influenced or dictated how things are. Being proactive means pushing on those walls a little bit, and exploring what can be done to make someone’s day, even if – especially if – it’s an action that hasn’t been done before.