‘Threats’ versus ‘consequences’

"A threat is advance notice of the intent to punish or harm.
A consequence is the outcome of certain conditions."



August 19, 2020 - 9:40 AM

Hi, Carolyn: Can you help me articulate the difference between a consequence and a threat? I said to my family recently about a weekly event that we all enjoy but for which I do most of the preparation: “For the last few weeks all of you have been late, and I feel like the effort I put in is unappreciated and it’s disrespectful. If it happens again this week, I won’t do the preparation for the following week. You’ll have a week’s notice and I’ll help you all prepare, but I don’t want to put in effort that isn’t appreciated.”

Carolyn HaxCourtesy photo

I was calm and logical and yet … I was told I was threatening and choosing to interpret their lateness as a sign of disrespect when it wasn’t intended that way. I know their response involved guilt — they were all on time the next week. And I understand how they could see it as a threat. So what’s the difference?

— Anonymous

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