How to Take Initiative Socially

by Eric Disco
Oct 1

After my last article a few people were asking for specific examples of what it means to “take initiative.”

An initiative is an introductory act or step. It’s an opening move, an action where you take the lead.

The important thing about taking initiative is that it may or may not be successful.

That’s why it’s called an opening move.  Anything could happen.

Let’s say you work at a soda company and they only make cola.

The company decides on an initiative to break into the root beer market. You create a new root beer product and put it on the market.

This new product may or may not be successful.  But either way, it’s an initiative.

The same thing happens socially.

You make an opening move to start an interaction with somebody.

This person may or may not respond positively.  But either way, it’s still an initiative.

Here are some specific examples of ways that you could take initiative socially.

  • You get into a cab and tell the driver where you want to go. He starts driving.  Soon afterward you say “How you doing today, man?”
  • You get into an elevator with another person.  You turn to them and ask them how they are.
  • You get to the cashier at Starbucks and she says “May I help you?” Instead of giving your order right away, you say “Hi. How are you?” She says “Good, how are you?”   You say “Wonderful, I thought you’d never ask!”  Then you place your order.
  • You walk into a clothing store and there’s an employee standing there.  Instead of waiting for them to say hi, you say hi first.
  • You’re at a friend’s party. Instead of standing in the corner waiting for a friend to introduce you to one of their friends, you take initiative and start introducing yourself to people.  “Hi, my name’s_____.  How do you know the host?”
  • You’re in a class. Instead of sitting there all by yourself, you introduce yourself to a classmate.

You can take initiative with people you know as well.

  • You haven’t spoken to a friend for a while.  Instead of waiting for them to contact you, you call them up and say hi.  Or send them an e-mail or text.  All of these are taking initiative.
  • Your friends always plan things and you go along with them.  Instead of waiting for your friend to plan something, you take initiative and plan a fun event, maybe get everyone together to go bowling.
  • You like to go to parties.  That’s cool.  But you can also take initiative and plan your own party.  It’s your birthday?  Invite a group of friends out to dinner

Taking the initiative socially can be even simpler.

Maybe you decide to go out to an event you wouldn’t have otherwise gone to.

Even if you don’t talk to anyone at the event, you’ve taken initiative socially because you put yourself into a situation where social interaction was possible.

Social initiative can mean going out on a daily walk with the intention of eventually interacting with people.

You’re making an opening move to put yourself in situations that have social potential.  You’re out among people instead of alone in your home. That’s social initiative.

And of course, interacting with a cute woman, “approaching” her, is social initiative.

You took the lead in starting a social interaction instead of sitting back and hoping things would “just happen.”

You took initiative instead of just waiting around hoping that you would eventually meet someone great by accident.

It usually takes some kind of bravery to take initiative.

However, there are some cases where it takes bravery to NOT take social initiative.

This is because in some cases, particularly once the relationship has already been initiated, it can be needy to take too much initiative.

If, after your first date, you call too much or contact her too often, it shows that you are worried she’ll forget about you or that you don’t have confidence she’ll take initiative with you.

But for the most part, initiative-taking, no matter how small, is a good thing.  It takes bravery because you are doing something your body doesn’t want you to do.

It is the only underlying exercise that will allow you to get past your inhibitions like approach anxiety.

People tend to repeat things they have repeated.

The more you practice taking initiative, both large initiatives and small initiatives, the stronger your initiative-taking “muscle” becomes, and the easier it is to continue doing it.


posted in Initiative and Inhibition

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