Difference between Proactive and Active

Key Difference: Active behavior basically means that they are engaged in some kind of action. Proactive behavior refers to behavior that aims to act in advance of a possible event rather than react after the event has happened. Proactive refers to taking control and making things happen rather than just waiting for a situation.

Behavior is described in three main manners: active, reactive and proactive. Active basically means any action. Whereas, reactive and proactive are actions that have been done on the basis of something. Reactive actions are those that are done in response to an event that has happened. While, proactive actions are those that are done in anticipation on event that may happen.

Active behavior basically means that they are engaged in some kind of action. The reasons for the action may differ, as might the timing. However, as long as the actin is being taken, the behavior is active. Taking an active role means taking action, which requires motion and, at times, quick-thinking and responsiveness.

Proactive behavior refers to behavior that aims to act in advance of a possible event rather than react after the event has happened. Proactive refers to taking control and making things happen rather than just waiting for a situation, adjusting to a situation, or waiting for something to happen. This can include behaviors such as having a plan in place, offering to help others before they need to ask for help.

 The benefit of proactive actions and behavior is that people are more focused. They notice trends and can anticipate what would happen next and plan ahead accordingly. Whereas, active behavior just means that they do something about it, either because they needed to do something or because somebody told them to do something. Non-active behavior basically means that they will not do anything, no matter what.

Let’s look at an example: An active employee take part in meetings, takes decisions, and does everything that is his job description. However, a proactive employee would make a proposal to submit in the meeting, voluntarily come up with an outline for the meeting to ensure that the meeting is as productive as possible, and take decisions in anticipation of the future of the business.

Comparison between Proactive and Active:

 

Proactive

Active

Definition (Merriam-Webster)

Controlling a situation by making things happen or by preparing for possible future problems

Doing things that require physical movement and energy

Involved in the activities of a group or organization : participating in an action or activity

Involving action or participation

Description

A proactive approach focuses on eliminating problems before they have a chance to appear.

Active focuses on doing something, either before, after, or during an event or problem is occurring.

Characteristics

Doing something in anticipation of something

Just doing something

Examples

  • He proactively waited to serve the food, because he suspected the people would be late.
  • She sold the stocks because she suspected that their value would reduce.
  • He actively served the food.
  • She sold the stocks.

Image Courtesy: getactivecornwall.co.uk, beafunmum.com

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