This Is Definitely An Ultimatum!!!

Sep 21, 2022

We all must definitely and categorically avoid using absolutes and ultimatums, and without question, never waiver, beyond a shadow of a doubt. Furthermore, once we all unequivocally accept that shadows have doubts, and unanimously agree on the exact distance between shadow and doubt, we will certainly be left with no room for error.

With all that said, we may want to take an absolutely different look at how we’re using these ultimatums.

Absolutes and ultimatums certainly have a time and place, but that time and place is not “always” and certainly is not “never”. In most cases – not all – we may be better off leaving a bit of breathing room, some chance for error, a small space for the benefit of the doubt to shed some light on the shadow of the doubt, so we don’t put unnecessary limits on ourselves and/or others…absolutely.

The weather reporter who warns us, without question, “There’s 100% chance of rain tomorrow”, is literally leaving absolutely no room for error. They’d be just as convincing if that percentage reflected a strong possibility, instead of total probability. For example, I’m still getting my umbrella out at 97% chance of rain, just saying.

The business leader who demonstratively states, “We’ve never done it that way and we never will”, may be just as convincing, and their message might be received with a bit more grace, if they simply stated, “That’s not something we’ve ever done, but help me understand how it might work in this situation”.

The parent who, out of shear exhaustion, relents to their child’s demands by saying, “Yes, you’ll get dessert. Just stop pestering me”, may avoid a total meltdown later that evening by slightly adjusting that promise to, “If you stop begging me, finish all your dinner, stop teasing your sister, and do all the dishes, there’s a chance you’ll earn some dessert.” (This one may or may not come from personal experience.)

The coach who yells at the team, “There’s absolutely no chance that is ever going to happen, ever!” - and then, for some odd and unexplainable reason, it happens - that coach will have some serious explaining to do. They may be better off just going with, “I don’t ever see that happening, but you never know.”

What we do know is there’s a time and place for ultimatums. They are important, they are necessary, and they send a strong message, especially when used with common sense and discernment. So, let’s use that time and place intentionally, practice common sense and discernment regularly, and incorporate these powerful words wisely. We can replace “always” with “quite often”, “never” with “very seldom”, “no way” with “not a good chance”, and “definitely” with “probably”. With this language, this new look, we can still take a strong position and make a strong statement, without promising with 100% certainty.

I can promise you, without question, when these absolutes lose their significance and lose their meaning, we’ll lose our audience. If we’re always throwing out always and never avoiding never, the meaning of these powerful and important words will become cloudy, and there will be 100% chance of a storm…because everything doesn’t always have to be an ultimatum. That’s for certain.

Ultimatum Off. Game On

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