Photo by mantasmagorical on Morgue File.
Tell us about the time you threw down the gauntlet and drew the proverbial line in the sand by giving someone an ultimatum. If you’ve never handed out an ultimatum but secretly wanted to, describe the scene and what you would say to put an end (one way or another) to an untenable situation.
I am not prone to ultimatums. It may be my personality, by in large a live and let live mentality. It may be that I am too inwardly focused to concern myself with laying down gauntlets on others. If I lay any gauntlet it would be more so with myself. I am constantly challenging myself in different areas. So, I guess you could say I give ultimatums to myself . . . of course, they are not always met!
An ultimatum is a line in the sand. It is a point of no return; at least, if you are going to hold your ground and save face. Once you give an ultimatum there should be no retreat. Of course, some ultimatums may be a bad idea. If so given, the only responsible course of action is to rescind the ultimatum. Either way, ultimatums can be sticky and messy; hence, why I try to avoid them.
In certain situations they are needed. Parents, from time to time, will feel the need to pull out the irrevocable ultimatum on their children. It is akin to the triple dog dare on childhood playgrounds (see the movie Christmas Story)! Once it is issued, there is no turning back. It is the coup de grâce of arguments and battles of the will.
I recently heard about a person, who felt as if they had been given an ultimatum, declaring to the person that they were not to do such a thing to them. The person let it be known that there would be no ultimatums concerning them. What we have here is a double ultimatum! An ultimatum issued concerning the perceived issuing of a first ultimatum! Now we are in murky waters indeed! It is similar to those who argue against the reality of absolute truth, opting instead for relativism. They will boldly declare, There is no such thing as absolute truth! Of course, what the person has just done is made an absolute truth statement about the unreality of absolute truth! This is beginning to remind me a bit of tangled webs being woven!
It is not only about the ultimatum itself, but the tone in which it is administered. There are ways to issue the line in the sand, but do it in a non-confrontational sort of way. Usually, the ultimatum-er is fed up with this or that behavior, so by the time they have reached the point of no return stage they are fuming with anger, hurt or disbelief. This is understandable, as is typically the case, many steps have been taken prior in an attempt to correct the behavior or habit. After all, there is nothing worse than a premature ultimatum!
In the end, it comes down to the fact that some people are reasonable and can see another person’s perspective; while some are just hard to deal with in these matters.
Ultimatums have their place and purpose. When done in a tactful manner they can be productive and successful. But, I do think the manner in which it is given (i.e. attitude) plays a big role in it. It is better to answer a gruff word with a peaceful one than to return meanness for meanness. The book of Proverbs is replete with this type of sage advice.
From time to time, we all need a little help and guidance in life. While no one particularly likes to be given an ultimatum, it may be the best thing for us at the time. We all have a tendency of putting our noses to the ground and not looking up or around; just plowing forward. Sometimes, we need a little insight, a little second party perspective. If we are teachable sorts, hopefully we will learn and apply the lesson before we become the dreaded ultimatum-ee.
It is easy enough to simply dismiss the ultimatum as a case of the other person being irrational, uncompromising or demanding perfection. And, in some cases, this may be true. Yet, it is certainly not always the case. Perhaps we just need a long cold stare in the mirror. Maybe we need to take a fresh inventory of ourselves and motives and actions. We may just find, shock-shock, that someone else knows more about the subject than we do!