The Tolerance Threshold Theory of Action: Part 1

This is the beginning of a series on Tolerance Threshold Theory and Action. It is a theory I have developed over time that deals with the threshold that we take action at. I believe that if we know what our thresholds are, and learn to control them, we will be able to accomplish more in our lifetimes than we ever thought possible.

My first example of threshold theory comes in a simple chore: cleaning the house. Everyone lies somewhere on a continuum between being a cleaniness freak and being a complete and utter lazy slob. Where your threshold is determines how clean your house is. A cleaniness freak will not let a single crumb or spot of dust be found anywhere, anytime. A complete and utter lazy slob will allow an inch of dust to accumulate everywhere and then proceed to roll around in his own filth. Most of us fall somewhere in between, but it is important to know where you stand to be able to move from there.

The whole idea behind threshold theory is to know where you or someone else will take action. For instance, if my threshold for cleaniness is higher than yours, and we live together, I will most likely end up always being the one to clean up after you. As you can imagine, this causes a lot of needless strife in any relationship. So when it comes to getting things done, you must know where your threshold is and where the other person’s threshold is as well.

Now this theory applies to any possible action. And it applies to everyone. This theory is important to understand no matter who you are and no matter who you work with. Your threshold can be high in one area, and low in another. Let’s take a business for example. My threshold for customer service is low. Low being a good thing in this instance. I will not even think about letting a customer be unhappy if there is something I can do about it. This is what frustrates me when I see my co-workers who are unwilling to provide a similar level of service. This is an example of low threshold because it doesn’t take much for me to jump up and take action

On the flip side, I have a very high threshold for paperwork. High being a bad thing. I will procrastinate on paperwork to the bitter end. What does this mean for me?

  1. It means I should find another job that doesn’t require me to do much paperwork.
  2. If I am the manager, I need to find someone that has a low threshold for paperwork that can do it for me. (i.e. delgation) I need someone who can’t stand to see things unorganized and incomplete.
  3. If I am the owner of the company, I better hire someone who will do my paperwork for me.
So how will this help you in your personal life?
  1. If you know someone’s threshold you won’t hold such high expectations for them as you do yourself. How can you? Hopefully knowing their threshold teaches you some patience. You learn to slowly work with them to lower their tolerance threshold.
  2. If you are in charge of hiring, you will hire the people who have the correct thresholds for their position.
  3. If you have kids, you will learn to slowly lower their thresholds for action rather than doing it all at once.
  4. If you are married, you will begin to see your spouse in a different light, and will learn to interact with them better. You will certainly be less frustrated if you both learn threshold theory and then apply the principles.
  5. The list goes on…
This is a tool I have used in many areas of my life. It is primarily a thinking tool, but it is a powerful thinking tool that can help you increase positive action.
There is a lot more flesh to this theory. I have simply provided a framework to start discussing it here. In the next few articles I will give more examples and continue to flesh out this theory until it becomes a principle for action. Until next time…

Comments

  1. Hi Jeremy,

    A great piece of original thinking there! And yes, we do have different tolerance levels for different areas of our lives. Looking forward to reading Part 2!

    Daphne

    Daphne’s last blog post..Keep Your Window To Life Open

  2. Thank you for discuss this. Good message on your website. I was reading your post and I have bookmark your blog already.

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  1. […] The Tolerance Threshold Theory of Action: Part 1 – This theory is important to understand no matter who you are and no matter who you work with. Your threshold can be high in one area, and low in another. Let’s take a business for example. My threshold for customer service is low. … […]