Ultimatums. We’ve all used them to reinforce one or another of the lines we’ve drawn in the sand.

For example, several months ago, I found myself in an unexpected confrontation with the owner of a business I’ve patronized for several years. This person was adamantly upholding a policy that seemed to me both irrational and personally insulting. So, after argument and persuasion both failed, I became increasingly frustrated and angry…and finally hurled an ultimatum sand-ward: “If you don’t yield on this issue, I’m taking my business elsewhere.”

If I shared the details of the situation, you might well think my or else response was justified. Perhaps it was, but was it smart? Was it the best course of action?

Advice columnist Carolyn Hax would say no. Check out her essay, Expressing Her Needs Without the Ultimatum.