Measuring Behavior

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Measuring Behavior

Measuring Behavior

It may be helpful to define measurements for behavior to:

  1. Determine whether boundaries and consequences are appropriate.
  2. Remove as much emotion from a situation as possible.

Measurements can be qualitative or quantitative. Quantitative measurements may be used if one expects:

  1. A task to be performed within a certain timeline.
  2. A certain amount of product to be produced.
  3. A certain number of repetitive tasks to be performed.

Qualitative evaluations are needed if the behavior cannot be specifically measured. Examples of this include:

  1. The courtesy of a sales representative.
  2. Leadership.
  3. Customer satisfaction.


A great system for evaluating behavior is the rubric. Rubrics are commonly used in education and in job performance; they can also be used in relationships. The rubric is a document that:

  1. Lists expected actions or behaviors.
  2. Defines criteria for the actions or behaviors based on levels of quality or quantity.
  3. Assigns a value to the actions based upon the criteria achieved.
  4. Supports decision making by providing a method by which to objectively discern qualitative factors.

This is an example of a job performance rubric:

Performance Rubric
Needs Improvement Below Expectations Meet Expectations Exceeds Expectations Excels
1 pts 2 pts 3 pts 4 pts 5 pts
Attitude Shows no interest Shows little interest in work Shows interest in work and does not complain often Clearly enjoys work and has a good attitude Enthusiastic, interested in work, and is motivated to do well
Punctuality Regularly late for work and/or meetings Late to work or meetings more than 10% of the time Late occasionally Rarely late Never late
Following Instructions Does not follow instructions Needs repeated, detailed assistance Follows instructions with little difficulty Follows instructions with no difficulty Follows instructions consistently and seeks our additional information
Interpersonal Relationships Disruptive and uncooperative with others Needs to improve relationships Interactions with others is acceptable Poised, courteous, and tactful with others Interacts well with all people
Quality of Work Does little or low-quality work Needs help to do quality work Does expected amount of quality work Exceeds expectations in quality and quantity of work Performs above and beyond expectations. Work is consistently neat and accurate

Translated into a decision-making tool for determining boundaries with a difficult person who has a bad attitude and is verbally abusive, the rubric may look like this:

  • Situation: Co-Worker demands things on her timeline without consideration of my workload.
  • Boundary: I will provide her with needs when I am able, but not at the risk of my own work. I will not accept demeaning words.
Boundaries Rubric
Unacceptable Behavior Tolerable Behavior Acceptable Behavior Pleasant Behavior Exceptional Behavior
Respect Calls me names or insults me Has haughty attitude but does not use rude language Speaks politely Speaks in soft tones, says please and thank you Smiles and offers compliments
Requests Waits until the last minute to request things and expects me to stop everything to help with her job Waits until the last minute to request things or requests things in a timely manner but expects me to help with her job Requests things in a timely manner and asks for help with her job occasionally Gives advance notice of needs and asks for help with her job occasionally Gives advance notice of needs and does her own job


  1. Unacceptable Behavior - Apply boundary: Say no; report behavior to supervisor
  2. Tolerable Behavior - Apply boundary: Say no to immediate help, but help when time allows
  3. Acceptable Behavior - Be courteous, help when able and offer assistance when able
  4. Pleasant Behavior - Be courteous, give assistance as soon as possible, make extra effort to help
  5. Exceptional Behavior - Provide assistance in advance

The rubric helps a person think through a situation and minimize the emotional responses that can inflame situations. Also, when appropriate, the rubric may be helpful to include in negotiations so that both parties are fully aware of the consequences of certain behaviors.