Hi everyone

TGIF!!! The exact definition of behaviour is challenging me. Does someone have a clear definition of behaviour as it is being used in the M-T framework?

Thanks and have a great weekend.


PS - behaviour is the Canadian spelling :wink:

mauzenne's picture
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Simple ...

1. The WORDS you say
2. HOW you say them
3. FACIAL expressions


bflynn's picture

I think those cover personal behaviors focused on communciations. For general behavior, I'd also add ACTIONS to that list to also cover all the things we do. Examples would arriving at work early, staying late to finish a report or closing the loop on projects you're working on.


cwatine's picture
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I have the same problem as Asterix ...

Being French speaking, the French translation for Behaviour would be "Comportement". But I am not sure it as the same "content" as behaviour.

"Comportement" also means a "general attitude in life". so it is not onlythe pure way the person acts without any judgment on the person's herself.

So when trying to explain feedback to my guys, I first needed to be extremely precise about what behaviour is NOT, and the fact that a feedback never should be given on the person ("you act stupid, lazy, ..."), but on her acts !

juliahhavener's picture
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Attitude is not a behavior - it is your impression of a series of behaviors.

You may think someone has a bad attitude because they roll their eyes, talk over their peers, and walk away when you are speaking to them. You can't address 'attitude', but you [b]can[/b] address every single one of the behaviors above.

Mark's picture
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We focus on the four behaviors that Mike listed because they are the starting point for most managers.

The other two are actions and work product. Work product is stuff you can see that you know CAME from actions...but sometimes you can't see the actions.

KEY: Can you see or hear it? Is it OBSERVABLE at a primary level, without inference?


asteriskrntt1's picture

ARgggh.... this is confusing as some things seem to fall into all the categories, being both observable and inferable (if that is even a word).

So would someone being short tempered or abrupt be a behaviour?
How about sarcasm?
Or swearing? I recently had a meeting with someone with a serious potty mouth. I "thought" it was very unprofessional, so is it a behaviour or an inference?

Thanks again


juliahhavener's picture
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[quote="asteriskrntt1"]So would someone being short tempered or abrupt be a behaviour?[/quote]

Abrupt you can hear, yes. Short tempered? I think that could be drawn down further to behaviors (how do you know they've lost their temper? throwing a fit? yelling at people? being rude?)

[quote="asteriskrntt1"]How about sarcasm? [/quote]

You can hear it - yes.

[quote="asteriskrntt1"]Or swearing? I recently had a meeting with someone with a serious potty mouth. I "thought" it was very unprofessional, so is it a behaviour or an inference?[/quote]

Again, you can hear the unprofessional language - definitely a behavior!

Does that help a bit with differentiating?

asteriskrntt1's picture

Thanks All

I will struggle through it. :)

PS - Julia, I think it is time we stopped watching the forums on Saturday nights! :wink:

juliahhavener's picture
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:lol: What? I just got home from work! (On my day off, woohoo)

And...I'm a MT junkie. I can't help myself.

Mark's picture
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Oh, but it's okay for ME?



It's only work if you'd rather be doing something else.

juliahhavener's picture
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True enough, Mark. I was where I wanted to be today. AND I got dinner with my family...and quality time with Lee.

I wasn't complaining, just pointing out those other things that might not be considered normal for a Saturday night!

Mark's picture
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Wasn't referring to your post, but rather to Rntt's comment to you.

Regarding rntt's post about behaviors, I have a different take.

Abrupt is not a behavior. The tone - shortened words, short sentences, interrupting, loudness initially - those are things that are likely to cause one to infer abruptness.

short tempered is also NOT a behavior. You can't see it. You have to infer it. Being the only one to walk out of a meeting, raising one's voice after being interrupted one time, not finishing a conversation and walking away without speaking, raising one's hand and turning on one's heel... those are behaviors that indicate short-temperedness.

Sarcasm is also NOT a behavior. It's a tone of voice - mimicking others' words while changing their inflection, laughing after repeating what someone else said, speaking out of the side of one's mouth... these are behaviors that cause one to draw inferences of sarcasm.

Think of it this way: define behaviors by telling a five year old what to LOOK FOR and HEAR when she were watching adults. Think about what you would tell her versus showing her an example.

Or, think of yourself being sarcastic or short tempered. How would someone know? What would they see?

Behavior is stuff that can be SEEN or HEARD...[b]LITERALLY.[/b]


juliahhavener's picture
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Thank you! You're exactly right that when I think of 'abrupt' those are the behaviors I think about...though I was simply considering abrubt an adjective to the speech/tone and therefore an action in itself.

sklosky's picture


I agree with you that at times this "system" or "organism" or "machine" can be confusing and complicated.

I think a key to deciphering this subject is this -- we observe aggregated behaviours.

For example, when someone smiles, it is the result of 12 or so muscles working together (

And, what you're observing and Mark is "breaking down" into component parts is an aggregate of an aggregate.

I think that the decomposition of general behaviours into component parts is a key concept. Instead of immediately trying to do a wholesale change, aim at changing small component parts one at a time. The aggregated change will be an overall change in the general behaviour.

It's more like training for a marathon or dieting. Overnight, not so much change, but in time, with persistance things can change.

There are some other attribututes to behaviour as well. I think that the framework here aims at identifying behaviours that are "concrete" in nature. Thusly, there is no question when the behaviour happens, and anyone within reach, earshot or sight will be able to clearly identify the behaviour. This "lowest common denominator" is powerful stuff.

Just some thoughts.


Dani Martin's picture
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Mark -- I believe I once heard you define behavior as something you can observe someone doing. You told the audience to ask themselves "Can I see him/her DOING the item in question?" If yes, it's behavior. If not, it's a judgement/conclusion. I think you even told us to add "doing" or "-ing" to the item and if it made sense, it's a behavior.

For example, I can hear someone swearing. I can't see someone "doing rude." I can see someone coming in late. I can't see someone "doing insubordination." In my line of work, I can observe my staffer not meeting volunteer recruitment goals (through tracking reports). This results in her not meeting fundraising goals.

I have had that little conversation in my head several times. It's helped me to clarify and define the behavior.

I hope I'm remembering correctly. I would hate to misquote you! :)

Mark's picture
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You've got it right.

I am scratching my head a little at the misunderstandings. I am reworking how I present this.


rwwh's picture
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Steve, it is not so much "decomposing" as well as locking out our brains from the observation.

Even though feedback is used to make a step at a time, in the end running the entire race, this is not the "behavioral" aspect discussed here.

Simple example. Compare "When you check E-mail during a meeting" with "When you repeatedly look at your Treo during a meeting". The second is what you saw, the first is what you deduced. He may have been gaming. Or taking notes. Try to use only pure observations in feedback.

Dani (even though Mark already blessed your interpretation) there is still another aspect in using behaviour in feedback: not only "could you observe", but also "did you observe". You can observe someone sending E-mail with his Treo, but did you actually see it? Or did you just see him handling his Treo during the meeting?

asteriskrntt1's picture

Thanks everyone

I did not think my question would generate so much helpful debate. So I have one last question.

Is Julia's being an "MT junkie" a behaviour or an attitude? :P


Mark's picture
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It's a superior state of mind.

Like Jimmy Buffett, flip flops, Dodger baseball, Tiger on Sunday, Travis McGee novels, and cashmere.


asteriskrntt1's picture


I just got my FIRST Jimmy Buffet album. It is soooo good.


juliahhavener's picture
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Can I have that on a polo shirt? 'Manager Tools - A superior state of mind'