I’m dealing with a situation that has alerted me to a few thought processes that I’ve either developed recently, or have always had. There is a distant family member who has been in contact and is demanding, in a degrading and aggressive nature, that we do what she says, only what she says and when she says to do it. This has triggered a few responses from me.
1. This woman doesn’t know me very well because invariably, my first response to an aggressive demand is some variant of ” No.”
2. There is no quicker way to entrench me in a test of wills than to tell me what I am going to do, how and when to do it, with no thoughts or consideration, nor opportunity for discussion.
3. What is it that causes this response in me and why?
4. Am I being stubborn and formulating my response solely on the way the demand was presented, or is the demand truly unreasonable for my current situation.
5. Why does someone ever feel that bullying, degradation of others and guilt would make anyone WANT to help them, even if it’s understood that the place they are coming from is fear and lack?
6. Is this all just semantics?
Isn’t a request defined as something you are asking someone to do, with the possible response, of “No”, “Not now”, “I can’t” or “Can we discuss this?” as opposed to a demand with the only response being “yes, I’ll do as you say and in your way without regard to anything else nor the impact it may have on me.” A request is respectful of the other person and shows a concern and willingness to work through any friction the request may cause. A demand is aggressive, selfish and self-centered with no respect or consideration shown for the person being demanded of. Basically, the message is “My needs are greater than yours. I don’t care what your situation is. I don’t care how this will affect you and I don’t want to discuss it.”
I’ve seen parents do this to their children, employees to employers, friends to friends, and never have I seen a positive outcome without someone feeling hurt and belittled.
So, on to my situation . This is the 4th time this person has aggressively demanded money from us for something we don’t owe her, but to which she believes we should contribute. She made the financial choice to set things up as they are and she could make choices to change those circumstances, and truly, that’s her business, but I’m not sure why she thinks we have to give her money for something she chose. If it were my own children in this situation, I’d tell them no. Go ahead and ask them, because they all know – or have experienced it.
Of course, if you come to me and explain what’s going on and ask me if there is any way I can help out… well…. it might not be exactly what you wanted, but it would be better than nothing, right? Too bad people don’t understand that at times.
The first demand I had to deny. The second demand I denied initially, but then contributed to when I was able to make arrangements that we can work with. The third demand, less than 10 months later, was for more. The fourth demand was for even more. If we’ve told her every time we doing the best that we can, what makes her think that demanding again will change the situation?
What’s that saying about doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
Sadly, I don’t think a polite response is going to work this time. It’s ugly.