How to give an ultimatum

How to give an ultimatum

Sometimes a relationship gets to a point where you both feel stuck and a little bit stagnant. After a while this leads to resentment and a feeling of restlessness within the relationship. Knowing when to give an ultimatum can increase your chances of a positive outcome.

The way in which you deliver an ultimatum is key as it will influence the response you receive. If your demands are unreasonable or ill-thought-out you are also less likely to receive a favourable result .

So how do you go about giving an ultimatum? Here are a few tips to help you figure out when to give an ultimatum .

Choose a relaxed moment

Of course, it may seem common sense but when emotions get in the way, we tend to blurt things out without thinking. Instead of helping us, this kind of ultimatum will hinder any progress. Ensure that you and your partner are feeling relaxed with each other and in a good mood. You will be far more likely to be heard and your request will be considered in a better light.

Try not to spring an ultimatum on your partner when they’re in a bad mood tired or cranky. Set the scene beforehand.

Consider your ultimatum carefully

It’s vital to consider why you are giving the ultimatum and what you would like to achieve. No one likes pressure or the feeling of being backed into a corner. Make sure that you have good reasons for giving the ultimatum and consider how reasonable your request is.

If your request is unreasonable your chances of success or diminished. Unreasonable ultimatums include forcing someone to choose between you or their children or between you and another family member. Another unreasonable ultimatum is expecting somebody to go against their fundamental value system. For example: if you expected your other half to give up their job because you didn’t like it, you are probably being unreasonable or you expect them to give up their religion.

When selfish reasons prompt an ultimatum your chances of success aren’t high.

Be empathetic

Consider how you would feel if your partner asked the same of you. How would you feel if they gave you the same ultimatum? When we are emotionally involved we can sometimes lack forethought and find it harder to see the other person’s perspective. Ultimatums can break a relationship. so before you go ahead, consider how important the issue is to you. Is it a deal-breaker?

Good reasons for giving an ultimatum

if you have been In a relationship with someone for a considerable amount of time (say more than three years) and they will not give you any indication of whether they want to stay with you in the long term, it would be prudent to give them an ultimatum. No one wants to sit around with a lack of direction while the other person continues as they please.

Giving an ultimatum is about restoring the balance. If there has been an imbalance in the relationship, an ultimatum can really do the trick in restoring equilibrium.

Make sure the ultimatum comes from a good place and not from a malicious point-scoring position. When you give an ultimatum under these conditions you will inject more damage into the relationship than good.

Ultimatums should be seen as a last resort, however. Before you get to the stage of giving an ultimatum, do all that you can to encourage open communication and problem-solve together. If you find that after everything you’ve tried you still resentful and feel that the relationship is not moving forward then, by all means, go ahead with the ultimatum.

When you give an ultimatum be willing to accept the consequences. It’s a make or break decision that can improve the relationship or destroy it irrevocably. Be willing to accept the consequences of pushing the limits and testing your partner.

At least if they refuse, you will know where you stand and gain back the control and direction you seek.

How to give an ultimatum

Nearly every leader will be confronted with an employee who threatens to quit if he doesn’t get his way.

It’s difficult to overstate how vital it is that you handle this situation correctly. It’s a seminal moment. Your response to a direct challenge of your leadership impacts everyone on your team, not just the person who gave you the ultimatum.

I want to assume that the employee’s grievance is not legitimate. That’s a big assumption. If you’ve made a bad decision then correct it.

What I want to address here is that particular situation in which a team member disagreed with your sound decision and has — for reasons of their own — levied an ultimatum devised to force your hand. This becomes a challenge to your leadership and must be addressed.

How Not to Respond to an Ultimatum

There are two opposite yet equally poor ways of handling the situation:

  1. Blow up. This is tempting. The person has directly challenged your leadership and it feels good to respond in anger and levy a few threats of your own. This is a mistake. Remain calm and keep your composure.
  2. Give into the threat. This is especially tempting if the person giving you the ultimatum is an otherwise solid performer. If you’re not careful, your fear of losing the person will cause you to give in to his demands. If you acquiesce then others on your team quickly realize that the best way to get what they want is to issue an ultimatum of their own. You’ve just bought future headaches.

The Best Way to Handle an Ultimatum

There is a better way to address an ultimatum, a way that might make it possible for you to salvage your working relationship with the person.

Accept his resignation while simultaneously giving him time to reconsider.

By accepting his resignation you’ve communicated that you will not respond to threats. This is critical to establishing yourself as a strong leader.

At the same time, you must understand that people who make threats often do so hastily, in the spur of the moment. A strong leader recognizes this and makes allowances for it.

With both in mind, consider saying something like this. It’s important to remain calm. Nevertheless, be direct:

“If those are the only two options you see then you need to go pack up your desk while I contact HR to arrange for your final paycheck. On the other hand, if you are willing to discuss this without making threats then we can talk about it first thing tomorrow morning. In either case, please leave now. I’ll give you the rest of the day off so you can think about your next step.”

It’s important to remove the person from the workplace immediately. Otherwise, the person’s attitude will poison the rest of the team.

When you push the conversation to the next day, it gives both of you time to think things through. Are you still comfortable with your decision? Is there legitimacy to the person’s complaint? If so, make the appropriate change. You may have been wrong. If so, admit it the next day and work toward a better solution.

If after review, you’re still confident in your position then remain firm the following day.

The Big Takeaway

No leader enjoys dealing with situations like this. But it comes with the job.

The most important lesson to take away from this is that you mustn’t allow employees to hold you hostage when you’re confident you made a wise decision. It can undermine your leadership in the future.

Questions: Has an employee ever given you an ultimatum? How did you address it? Were you able to salvage your working relationship with the person? Help others by leaving a comment below.

I met a woman over the weekend who had been waiting for her man to get his shit together, buy a ring, get down on one knee, and pop the question. But it wasn’t happening fast enough for her taste, and she told him so—a classic dating ultimatum.

She told her guy that she wanted to be proposed to by the end of the year—or she would need to find someone else. She loved him and was ready to move on to the next phase of their relationship. As much as she tried to be patient, she explained that if he didn’t know he wanted to marry her yet, he might never know. He took all the time she gave him, but he did eventually deliver a proposal.

This is the kind of story that will make many women say "see. ultimatums work!" But to be honest, the whole idea of ultimatums seems like an unpleasant kind of power struggle to me.

It seems to me that the "my-way-or-the-highway" line of thinking characterized by an ultimatum isn’t ideal for male-female relationships. We usually hear of compromise being the cornerstone of a healthy relationship. The risk with ultimatums is that there’s an inherent one-sided coerciveness to them—"do this or else. " Your words take on more power. You're guaranteed to see an outcome, whether it's the one you want or not. It might be just the push your guy needs. Or you might convince a man to do something he wouldn’t (or maybe shouldn’t) do otherwise, and that might turn out to be a big mistake. After all, do you want a man to marry you because he wants to, or because you pressured him into it?

This isn't to say that women shouldn't be able to voice their opinion. Quite the contrary. As a man who generally prefers taking the initiative in a relationship, I appreciate it when a woman gives me clear expectations for a relationship upfront. Rather than having to hear about her unmet needs somewhere down the road, or worse, floundering to try and figure them out on my own, I like to know what she needs from the start.

Once upon a time I started going on dates with a woman who didn’t like the idea of me seeing other women at the same time. We were still very new, in my opinion, and I simply wasn’t ready to be exclusive with her. But that’s what she wanted, and we ended up going our separate ways as a result. I actually really appreciated her straightforwardness, and while it was a somewhat uncomfortable way to part, it was certainly for the better.

There’s actually reason to believe it’s better for a woman to challenge a man than not. Marriage expert Dr. John Gottman suggests that marriages in which the husband “accepts influence” from his wife are the marriages that last. That doesn’t mean that he’s a pushover or that she's pushy. It means that there’s a “balance of power” between the man and the woman.

Psychologists initially thought that simply changing the language used in disagreements was the most important factor in a happy marriage. An example of this change of language are “active listening” techniques, some of which you may have heard before. For example instead just sitting there listening, you wait until your partner is done speaking and respond with something like, “Ok, what I hear you saying is…” But Gottman says this kind of listening is not enough. It’s far more important that women simply make their concerns known and men heed them—with or without the psychobabble (and preferably without). Turns out, it’s not enough for a man to simply be better at letting a woman know that he’s listening. Instead, the relationships that worked in Gottman’s studies were those in which the men not only stated that they were listening but actually showed that they were listening by exhibiting a change in behavior.

The way I understand this is what my married friends call the rule of “Happy Wife, Happy Life.” These men have realized that when they put in the effort to do the things that they know will make their wives happy, they then get along better with their wives, which then means that they end up being happier. Sounds simple enough. What makes it difficult is when a woman isn’t clear about what exactly she wants. Perhaps you’ve noticed, ladies, but we men aren’t always too good at picking up on subtleties and non-verbals. My guess is that a lot of ultimatums happen because men are missing the “signs” that women are putting out there. She’s frustrated because he doesn’t seem to get it, and he’s frustrated because he doesn’t feel like he’s been given a fair chance. But when a woman is able to communicate expectations clearly and proactively, men are (typically) perfectly happy to oblige.

Again, this isn’t about who gets wear the proverbial "pants" in the relationship. In fact, the point is that there are actually plenty of pairs to go around. By far one of the most important traits I look for in a woman is that I can consider her my equal. I don’t want to be constantly having to prove myself to her and trying not to slip up any more than I want her to feel like she has to do that for me. She can’t be afraid to call me out on my b.s.—but not in such a way that she lords a superiority over me or threatens me with a breakup all the time.

Zach Brittle, Verily’s male relationship guru and Gottman-certified marriage counselor, suggests this approach: Instead of demanding change from a partner, express your feeling in the form of “I desire” statements—and not just I desire for me, but I desire for us. Think about it: Would you rather hear from your man that (a) he demands more alone time with his buddies or (b) that he wants to feel free to spend more time with his guy friends because that’s how he feels loved by you? Because he feels trusted when he can have a guys’ night? Because he feels refreshed and more able to love you?

Sure, it can be satisfying and even empowering to lay it all on the line in ultimatum to your significant other. But if it ever truly gets to a point where you feel the need to put your foot down and make an all-or-nothing demand, likely something went wrong long before you got there. Before we ever get to a point in a relationship when we must offer an ultimatum, there are opportunities to express our expectations, boundaries, and desires. By making your expectations clear from the beginning and sticking to them along the way, you'll give your significant other the chance to love you—with no demands required.

Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, relationships need to have an ultimatum. There are a few steps to take before having this discussion with your partner, and an ultimatum should really be a last resort in your relationship, as it can sometimes mean the end of your relationship. If you feel like you need to give an ultimatum, read on to see how to do it.

Take Some Time

Make sure that you’ve had time to reflect on the relationship and examine your feelings. Ultimatums aren’t something to rush into. Make sure that you are going into the discussion clear, calm, and having already dealt with your emotions.

Be Appropriate

Have the discussion at an appropriate time. Make sure that neither you or your partner are stressed, tired, or hungry. This conversation may last a while, so be sure to set aside ample time to discuss your relationship with your partner. Also make sure that you’re being reasonable with what you’re asking.

Be Clear

During the discussion you need to be straight forward with what you want the other person to do and what your expectations are for the relationship. Make sure that you have responses ready for arguments that may come up, but be kind and firm when you give them. Let them know what the outcome will be if they choose to act certain ways.

Be Ready for the Negative

In general, people don’t like ultimatums, and you shouldn’t expect your partner to be happy after you discussion. It’s normal for them to want some time alone to process their feelings, and the best thing you can do is give them this time. Don’t get upset if they lash out at you, either to your face or behind you back.

Get Ready to Walk Away

Unfortunately, ending the relationship is one outcome of an ultimatum. This can be heartbreaking for both parties, but this is something that you need to be prepared to do before you have the conversation with your partner. You have to be consistent with what you said or your partner will not believe you. Make sure that you’re willing to follow through.

Ultimatums are a really difficult way to end a relationship, but sometimes they are the only way to protect yourself and the ones that you love. If you find yourself in a situation where you have to give an ultimatum, take some time for yourself afterwards. You’re going to need to surround yourself with people who love you and learn to be on your own.

I recommend that you check out the most shared quote posts on the internet.

I have learned and experienced many things during my dating life, but I never thought I’d reach the point of ultimatums with a guy.

I never wanted to be that type of woman. In my head, an ultimatum meant throwing a tantrum, stomping your feet, wanting things your way or the highway.

I think we have these associations that come with the idea of giving your partner an "A" versus "B" option, but dating isn’t as black and white as we’d like to make it out to be.

The interesting aspect I’ve been reflecting about is what drove me to my ultimatum and how I’ve felt in its aftermath.

Honestly, the odds didn’t go in my favor. When I gave the guy I’d been dating for over five months the option to commit and take me seriously or don’t call me anymore (literally), I wasn’t sure what he would do.

People aren’t wind-up toys, they are a damn Rubik’s Cube, and I didn’t have full faith in the direction we were going in either way.

We’ve all been there. When you reach a breaking point of really having to decide if this person is worth investing any more time or emotion in.

For me, the decision didn’t come easy and I’d been in turmoil for a while trying to figure out how to make a complicated situation simple.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized it wasn’t complicated and it wasn’t hard. There were really only two options.

It was owning my confidence as a woman and remembering what I bring to the table and what I have to offer someone in a relationship that led to my decision. I’m not perfect — far from it — but I know my worth and what I can contribute to committing to someone.

Relationships aren’t easy or simple — I’m aware of that. There are so many factors at play in the long or short journey couples take to finally being "official."

It’s not a "Fast and the Furious" movie where you’re trying to get to the finish line. It’s a road trip, a long one where you enjoy the twists, turns and miles driven until you get to your final destination.

So believe me when I say I never saw an ultimatum on my path toward happiness. But I got there because the view wasn’t looking promising anymore.

There were too many bumps, curves and gas stops that left me with no idea how we were ever going to get to the blissful end zone.

I kept thinking about my past and what I learned from all the partners. Was I repeating my mistakes?

Then I remembered I’m not in my teens or early 20s, I’m in my late 20s and prepared to offer good qualities to a partner.

There’s no time for games or nail biting about a man wanting to be with me. So I decided on my ultimatum. It was simple and I don’t regret it.

Will I allow myself to get to that point again with a partner? No. There were enough warning signs along the road I chose to ignore or didn’t see, and that is part of the reflection process. You learn.

Even if the choices didn’t work out as I’d hoped, I’m OK. It stings like any quiet rejection would, but I can look myself in the mirror and stand confident in the woman I am.

So he didn’t call? There will be a partner someday who will.

You’ve got to own the ultimatum and love yourself knowing that person’s decision to be or not be with you doesn’t diminish your character or what you have to offer.

How to give an ultimatum

Giving your boss an ultimatum should be a last resort. Try alternate routes, such as negotiation, before you make any sort of demand. If your boss feels as if you’re holding him hostage, you might not get the results you want. However, if you’ve exhausted all your other options and feel you have no choice but to go with an ultimatum, you’ll need to prepare beforehand and tread carefully to avoid negative consequences.

Consider All Angles

Since giving your boss an ultimatum could easily backfire, it’s a move with some risk attached. For example, if you threaten to quit if you don’t get a raise, your boss could let you go. Think about the possible outcomes if your ultimatum doesn’t go your way, even if what you think you’re presenting doesn’t appear to have serious consequences. If you’re demanding a promotion, for instance, are you leaving yourself open to a demotion? If you can’t weather any potentially negative outcomes, you shouldn’t give the ultimatum.


Practice what you’ll say to your boss when you’re giving your ultimatum and test your presentation out on other people. Ask your test audience for feedback on areas where you can improve and for a summary of what you’re asking for once you’re done. Depending on the feedback you get, you might have to tweak your presentation for clarity and to get the right tone. For instance, if you’re told you sound angry, work on getting a more neutral tone. Don’t try it on coworkers unless you can absolutely trust them. You don’t want word getting back to your boss before you speak to him.

Back Yourself Up

Don’t just leave it to your boss to rely on your words alone. You’ll make a more convincing case if you have proof to back up your position. Insert evidence into your presentation. For example, if you’re asking for a raise because your salary is well below those of other people in the same job in your market, cite the salary figures and where you got the information. Provide physical proof, such as a printout of the information you’re citing, if you think your boss will question your facts.

Pick the Right Time

Don’t spring an ultimatum on your boss at the wrong time, such as during a meeting or when he’s focused on other things. Since it’s a delicate situation, you need your boss’ full attention and enough time to state your case. Schedule a meeting with your boss on a day when you know he’ll have the time to hear you out and respond. You might want to consider his mood as well. If he was recently reprimanded, for example, wait to schedule the meeting, as he may already be on the defensive.

Offer Alternatives

Give your boss more than one way to fulfill your demand if possible. For example, if you want a raise but would also consider a bonus for now, offer up both of these options to your boss. If you give your boss more than one choice, he’s less likely to feel as if you’re backing him into a corner with your request.

How to give an ultimatum

[Here briefly focus on Sample Ultimatum Letter format to Employer. You can follow this sample letter to give an ultimatum to an employee who has not come on time, misbehaving, procrastination in work or any other issue by the boss/employer. You can modify these sample as your requirement.]

Sub: Ultimatum Letter to Employee

Dear Employee (Enter Employee Name Here),

I am writing this letter on behalf of the whole office staff as this letter concerns everyone you work with. (Describe in your own words). It has been reported to the CEO (Office authority) quite a number of times now that your attitude and behavior in the office premises is very unprofessional and needs to be addressed. The way you harass the female staff is totally unacceptable. (Describe actual problem and situation). I ignored a few of your complaints on a few occasions thinking that you may mend your ways but when I heard that you harass the female staff I had to write this ultimatum letter to you. (describe your requirement and managerial decision).

You must mend your ways immediately or else the office staff will fire you and not grant you any recommendation letters. We hope you understand that an office is a place where you have to stay professional and disciplined.

Another Format,

Sub: Ultimatum Letter to Employee

This is an ultimatum letter to you for your insincerity towards your job. You have been found absconded from your job yesterday. (Describe in your own words). You have already given one warning before. Your attendance for this month is also not acceptable. (Describe actual problem and situation).

This is the last warning to you from the department. Kindly come to the Chairman’s office along with an explanation letter for your negligence. (describe your requirement and managerial decision).

How to give an ultimatum

As an empowered woman with a take charge attitude, you may not have the time and patience to sit around waiting for your man to pop the question. But is making a marriage ultimatum the right move? If you aren’t careful, issuing an ultimatum to get that coveted engagement ring could be committing relationship suicide.

There is only one time when you should actually give your boyfriend an ultimatum, and that is when the ultimatum is truly authentic. Only do it if you are prepared to handle the truth and back up your words with actions. If you tell your man “now or never,” be prepared to leave if he says he isn’t ready to get married.

Some men actually need a little nudge to move forward, and using an ultimatum can work in this type of situation. However, if he really has no intentions of marrying you, you should be prepared to send him packing and move on. He would only be wasting your time and keeping you from meeting a man who would commit to you.

Plus, if you stay in the relationship after he says no, you will lose a lot of credibility and leverage in the relationship. It could be perceived as an attempt at manipulation and just empty threats. There is a very fine line between an ultimatum and a threat, so be careful not to let it turn into a threat, especially when you don’t plan to back it up.

The worst case scenario is when an ultimatum backfires on you, forcing your man to actually harden his stance on not getting married. It will force him to make a decision either way, so you better be prepared to handle it if he decides he isn’t ready yet.

If you do decide to go forward with an ultimatum, make sure it isn’t too soon in the relationship. If you have only been together less than half a year, it is probably too soon and you will end up scaring your man away.

A reasonable time to start thinking about marriage would be about a year into a serious, monogamous relationship. At this point, if marriage hasn’t really come up yet, be careful about how you approach the topic.

To avoid scaring your man away, stay calm and try not to let desperation or impatience drive your emotions. Desperation can lead to threats and that is likely to result in the demise of the relationship. In addition to staying calm, you should be firm and direct. Men don’t always catch on to subtle hints, so it’s best to be very direct.

Find a neutral and non-stressful time to bring up the subject, and tell him directly what you want. You could say something like, I see you as my husband and I would like to know if you feel the same way. Or you could say that you want to move forward in the relationship and take the next step, and you want to know if he’s on the same page.

If you turn the conversation into more of an invitation to propose, rather than an ultimatum, you are likely to get a better result. Remember though that you can only invite your man to propose, you can’t force him to do it. If he isn’t ready, decide if the relationship is worth waiting for him or if you want to move on.

Give him a few weeks to think about it before you bring it up again or make any moves. He may not have been thinking about marriage at all so he probably needs a little time to let it sink in and really think about it.

The most important take away is that you should only give an ultimatum when you are ready to face the truth and take action, whatever answer you get. If the answer is no, then he probably wasn’t the right man for you anyway.