Identifying Problem Behaviour

Individuals have a right to be left alone... persistent unwanted behaviour is often stalking and illegal in all jurisdictions!
Organisational values and code of conduct are the first point for guiding acceptable behaviour...but it has to be implemented once the behaviour first emerges to be effective!
Identifying Problem Behaviours
What is Problem Behaviour

Problem behaviour is that which causes the reasonable person to experience:

  • Offence: conduct calculated to wound feelings, arouse anger, disgust or outrage the reasonable person,

  • Fear: conduct that causes reasonable person to doubt their personal safety,

  • Distress:

  • Trauma: physical or psychological injury caused by the conduct of a person.

​Four Paradigms of Problem Behaviour

Problem behaviours clusters in five paradigms. The paradigms have been well researched with learnings to support active and strategic management. The five clusters are:

  • Aggression: The deliberate or reckless use of force that harms self and/or others. All acts of violence are aggressive but not all acts of aggression are violent.

  • Sexual harm: Engaging in any sexualised behaviour (including gender based sexual harassment) without consent

  • Repeated Harms: Bullying and Stalking -  Repeated, unwanted intrusions that causes aggravation, distress or fear. Persistent complainers sees the pursuit of a grievance or complaint beyond what is reasonable and resulting in harms to the complainer, targets and organisations ​

  • Social Media Abuse: The perpetration of problem behaviour in this highly public domain to cause humiliation as well as offence, fear or trauma

The aggression continuum by Code Black is a useful tool to visualise behaviour.


Skilled interactions see's colleagues discussing a work task using respect and courtesy, valuing others opinions.


At times though we can all become frustrated, this can be seen in behaviours such as rudeness, refusing to accept the information provided and the use of intimidation and rigid demands. For example, comments that are designed to be intimidating, "this will go further I promise you". Body language can also play a major part of safe or aggressive communication. These behaviours, although seen in everyday life, are the use of aggression and can cause offence or fear in those on the receiving end. Psychological injuries can occur where the behaviour is ongoing, extreme cases can result in PTSD in over a third of cases where people are 'harassed' in person or online.

Behaviour soon moves into more concerning aggression. The lower part of the continuum, illustrates property misuse which can be from slamming objects, doors, chairs or coffee cups. Non-injurious assault, such as bumping into someone in a deliberate way such as pushing past them or pushing. Then assault with injury, sexual assault and in the worse cases homicide. In some ways this last group of behaviours is easier to classify and manage, call emergency services!

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