I pass some places where my bosses said I'm just reactive, in other words, I want some inputs before make something. But I think they don't understand some facts about me:

  1. I'm a quiet reserved person.
  2. I don't want to lead anyone or anything
  3. I love study, learn new things and put it on practice but I hate having to interact people in order to make my tasks done.

When I face jobs like at telco companies, where I had to get info some guy at department X, after get some data from another guy Y at department Z such guys usually cheat, don't want to talk to me, don't answer my emails... There are any way to avoid this or at IT now the way is being the lead politician and not do brilliant and quality code?

  • 8
    "Why this is so important be proactive besides reactive?" To make more money.
    – user48138
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 12:53
  • 3
    So you want to know how you might do a job that requires human interaction while living in a bubble? Sounds like you might have to build a Sheldon-bot. But seriously ... your attitude is terrible, and you come across and whiny and unwilling to improve/change/put in any effort. Get out there, speak to people, learn new things - that's what life is all about (and not just your professional life). I'm a developer and an introvert who would typically rather read a book on a Friday night than go out, but I've learned to come out of my shell. Time you did as well.
    – AndreiROM
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 13:35
  • 2
    "after get some data from another guy Y at department Z such guys usually cheat, don't want to talk to me, don't answer my emails..." - is this your question? Your explanation of the problem here is hard to follow. Who is "cheating" and how? What do you need them to do when they are not answering your e-mails? Did you escalate to your manager, etc. etc.
    – Brandin
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 19:49
  • 1
    It's called showing initiative and solving issues without needing your hand held, you don't need to be an extrovert to do this, just do your job properly.
    – Kilisi
    Commented May 12, 2016 at 6:20
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    You do need to understand the business domain. You cannot effectively code in a business environment that you do not understand because your job is to solve their problems. However, I never mentioned the business domain. Being proactive involves much more than the business domain. If you don't understand things, then you use your time being proactive to learn to understand things. You cannot be passive in any professional position whether software, engineering, accounting or medicine, etc. You are paid more than minimum wage because you are expected to be able to think for yourself.
    – HLGEM
    Commented May 12, 2016 at 15:11

3 Answers 3


Wanting input before you do something is certainly not the problem, it's sensible to only start working when you have gathered information. The problem seems to rather be that you wait for the delivery of such input instead of actively demanding it.

Let's see this from your bosses viewpoint: The people in leading positions usually have numerous responsibilities, i.e. topics which they need to stay on top of. Depending on the number of topics this can be quite straining, as there is always the risk of forgetting one of those topics.

Now what kind of colleague is more useful? The one who simply waits for input on some task which needs to be done, thus adding to the number of the topics to be remembered? Or someone who actively performs all necessary steps to get the work done on his or her own?

What your bosses are telling you is that you would be more useful to them if you removed some of their workload by ensuring yourself that you can continue working.


You don't need to be the lead politician, you don't necessarily need to lead anything. You do however have to have some basic communication skills. Having a programming job most of the time does not mean you are behind a desk 24/7 and are allways left alone.

IT and developers contain a higher-than-normal percentage of quiet, introverted people. It's best you brush up on communication skills and learn to communicate clearly in the professional environment. A very good read that may help you is How to win friends and influence people ~Dale Carnegie. Using and practicing the principles in this book will get you a long way.

  • I love to read such books but cannot apply it to my day to day life.
    – lambdapool
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 12:35
  • @lambdapool Why is that?
    – Jeremy
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 12:36
  • @lamdapool I have actually followed a 12-day course on applying Dale Carnegies principles, and during this period I have practiced them on pretty much anyone I saw. My girlfriend, my parents, people at work, people in the supermarkt...
    – Jeremy
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 12:40
  • I'm not a simpathetic person.
    – lambdapool
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 13:50
  • 2
    @lambdapool, then you need to learn these skills. You are making excuses.
    – HLGEM
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 19:29

The reason why it is important to be proactive is to stay employed and to not end up being treated like a child. If you are not proactive, it would be a rare company that considered you for a promotion as well. People who are not proactive rarely get the best assignments either, they get the work no one else wants to do.

Managers don't want to waste their time treating someone like a recalcitrant 5-year old. Far better to let that person go and hire someone who is not going to make your life as a manager more difficult.

It is always part of your job to make your manager look good. When you are reactive instead of proactive, you make him or her look bad or you consume more of his or her time than necessary and thus do not allow him the time to do more important tasks. This tends to make managers cranky and, well, why keep someone who is causing you to have to do more work?

You can get away with this when you are trainee or if you work a minimum wage jobs where you aren't expected to think, but if you have more than 2 years experience in a professional field then you need to start being proactive or you will be stuck in an endless series of bad jobs. The interesting and challenging professional jobs require a person to be proactive. The boring ones where you work for a micro-manager do not. Perhaps you don't want to do anything at work other than obey a manager. If so, you are likely in the wrong profession.

I had a subordinate who used to drive everyone crazy because she would follow instructions to the letter. That meant if you didn't actually say to her to let someone know when she finished a task, she would not. Everyone in the organization hated working with her. She hated working for me because I wouldn't let her get away with that behavior and I specified to the tiniest detail what I needed. I got four times as much work out of her as anybody else, but we both hated every minute and I was happy to pass her along to someone else as soon as humanly possible. No decent manager I have ever worked for or with wanted an employee who is passive. So when they find out that you are they take steps to move the problem to another manager or company.

It was a shame because she was a bright capable person capable of doing so much more (the work she actually did was excellent in quality) and she did herself in with her attitude. She was never considered for any good assignments, she was never promoted, she was frequently called into the big boss's office for performance discussions. She managed to stay exactly on the line of the performance that would not allow us to fire her (there are more rules for this in most government agencies) but she would have been fired from most corporate jobs. This is basically the path you are on.

Your job is much more than technical. Technical skill accounts for only around 30-40% of your success at work. All jobs require some level of interaction with your boss and coworkers and most professional jobs require some level of personal initiative.

If you are quiet and reserved, too bad so sad, but that is irrelevant. You still need to gain these skills to be successful at work. Every quiet and reserved person I know has managed to get those skills and you can too if you try. If you don't want to try, then you will have a very unfulfilling career and probably get let go multiple times until it becomes harder and harder to find a new job.

  • I don't need or want a promotion, I just want to make my job undisturbed.
    – lambdapool
    Commented May 12, 2016 at 8:48

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