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How to issue an ultimatum

****An ultimatum is all about power. You have it, you want to flaunt it, and you want them to recognize that you possess it. In most cases the demands one makes in an ultimatum — money, hostages, destruction — are actually secondary to the exercise of power. The one who is delivering an ultimatum to the other side is the one who possesses all the game pieces in his or her hand, while the one who receives it is the one who has not only lost his or her shirt, but every other shred of self-respect.

Even small children recognize the power of commanding others in a peremptory fashion, as witness the popular game of Simon Says. Simon's role is to say something, that is to dictate, which makes him a dictator whose every command must be heeded on pain of being expelled from the game. So the concept is an easy one, but it takes a certain knack of coming up with the proper execution of the idea.

*Evil plotpoints

  1. Seize the moment. An ultimatum should be issued at precisely the moment of capitulation, where your victim recognizes that you are in command, not sooner and not (much) later. In the business and civil world, an ultimatum is not tossed off but given only after considerable planning, including painstaking assessment of the other alternatives and an analysis of the actions of both parties
  2. Proclaim your will. Make your demands known whether in writing or by spoken word in as bold and unambiguous a fashion as you can. Use bold, vivid, forceful language: no ifs, ands, or buts. Use the techniques of advertisers who are masters of telling people what to do. Keep it short and punchy. Succinctly state the current state of affairs and attach all incriminating documentation.
  3. Break it into three parts. First assert your supremacy. Second, lay down your list of demands. Third, give an account of the consequences attached to not meeting the ultimatum. Be specific about the time limit. Make a decision in the ultimatum whereby inactivity on the part of your recipient is equivalent to a binding action--e.g., "If I do not receive payment by a certain date, then it is agreed that this matter will be settled by the pitiless might of arms," or "If capitulation does not occur by a certain time of day, it is agreed that you have relinquished all rights to your eastern province, and I am free to lay waste to it." Wording the document in this fashion makes their lack of action an act of active participation in your scheme.
  4. Wait. This is not a negotiation with give and take. You have made your statement, now you must wait out the clock to see whether your target has complied or not.
  5. Follow through. If your demands have been met, well and good. Now is the time to plan your next ultimatum to cause even more humiliation and pain. If they have not, you are expected to come down hard as promised, either immediately and punctually to underscore your utter control, or after a short delay designed to foster forlorn hopes that you have relented, so that you may strike them down in the midst of their mistaken celebration. When you do strike, do not fumble around waiting for your pulse generators to warm up and your death ray to focus — all of this should have been done beforehand.

! Strokes of genius

  • Publicity. If you are planning to wipe out every last one of your victims if they do not satisfy your requests, consider letting one or two insignificant ones to slip through so that they may pass your reputation for mercilessness on to the next population center. Also erect monuments to your foul achievements, making them difficult to pull down.
  • Be physically imposing. If you can shout your demands through a megaphone standing atop a hovertank, that is good, but if you can thunder them as a 300 foot tall hologram of yourself, so much the better. The reception of your insane decrees can only benefit from the additional dollop of showmanship.
  • The maniacal laugh. It is good to rant and scream when proclaiming your edicts, but unless you inject a convincingly crazed cackle at some point, you will not be taken seriously as a mad genius. If you are unaccustomed to expressions of mirth, it would be good to put in ten or twenty minutes of practice before ultimatum time along with a trusted advisor who can let you know whether you are hitting that right note of unstoppable derangement you are trying to convey to your listeners.

!! Traps for mere fools

  • Too much time. If your demand is a simple one (drop all your weapons and get down on your knees), three seconds is a sufficient time limit. If you let them have five minutes, it gets dull for all involved. If you are asking for something which needs more time to assemble, scale your time schedule up, but maintain the urgency necessary to keep the other side from reasoning out a way to weasel out of the situation.
  • Lawyerly talk. Though it is usually nice to run contractual things by our esteemed brethren in the legal profession, to avoid loopholes and other gaffes, in the end the list of demands you proclaim as your due must be simple and plain so that anyone can understand them without any special translation. Because they are working for the forces of goodness and light you may think that they are above talking to shysters of their own, but you would be surprised what rationalizations people can come up with when motivated.
  • Too little at stake. If you make your demands too easy to meet and your quarry caves in with plenty of time to spare, how much of a let-down is that? Make a realistic assessment of their capabilities beforehand, and never dictate terms that are less than one hundred ten percent of what you believe them to be capable of furnishing.
  • The cornered badger. When you have the face-off against your foe, take every precaution to ensure that they are truly and irredeemably vanquished, for this is the time when the forces of good are at their most dangerous. Do not discount the possibility that when faced with the prospect of annihilation your counterparts may suddenly go against character and cast aside all the principles and prohibitions that have till then served you well by forcing them to play by a set of rules. You do not want to learn that despite all protestations to the contrary, the paladin is in the end not above a bit of messy self-immolation in an attempt to take you with him.

+ Precious and needful

  • Public address system.
  • Words cut out of magazines. Also rubber cement to stick them onto a note.
  • Parchment scroll made of your victims' skin. And ink made from their blood.
  • Two or more witnesses.

Further plotting

Created by: GrinningSkull. Last Modification: Monday 21 of September, 2009 07:33:46 EDT by GrinningSkull.

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