Sometimes people in our lives make demands. For example a boss or client might set a deadline which by definition sets the latest time or date by which something should be completed. Most of us deal just fine with deadlines. Setting a deadline is a reasonable request that provides guidance and direction for another about something that needs to get done by a certain time. 

Deadlines should not be confused with ultimatums. Ultimatums are power-play moves, where one person tries to assert authority over another with a statement in the form of a demand which is accompanied by the implication that if it isn’t accepted and/or fulfilled then the issuer will do something to enforce their will. Ultimatums are a form of a threat, usually used in situations where one party wants control over what another does or doesn’t do. If you feel fearful in any way, it’s likely that you’ve gotten an ultimatum because in one way or another, there’s declaration that rejection of the ultimatum will result in retaliation or a breakdown in relations. 

Having run a variety of businesses over the years and guided people on the most effective forms of communication, I can say I am a big fan of setting deadlines and I highly discourage the use of ultimatums.  

Deadlines acknowledge respect for another’s time and energy. Deadlines respect another’s competence and their time to think, prepare, get ready, meet, deliver, plan or do whatever might be necessary to move forward.  Ultimatums are a one way street. They are a way of saying: My way or the highway. There is nothing positive about this kind of communication: It is disrespectful and divisive and a sign that the issuer of the ultimatum is feeling out of control and fearful.

If you find yourself issuing or facing deadlines or ultimatums, take some time to consider the validity of the request and the health of the relationship. When ultimatums overpower deadlines in communications, counseling or a new job are probably worth serious consideration. 

I’m @DianGriesel aka @SilverDisobedience  More info in my bio