On many occasions, in families and friendships, people appeal to our emotions for doing or not doing something. Is it a healthy way to compel someone? Does it produce a beneficial outcome for both sides? It is an intriguing question whether such emotional pressure – what in daily parlance call emotional blackmail – is good for a strong relationship?

‘You must do it for the sake of our family’s reputation,’ a father telling his daughter; ‘If you don’t marry me, I will kill myself,’ a lover saying to his girlfriend; ‘Boy, think of your parents’ dream before giving up engineering,’ father telling his son who intends to pursue music. All these are the example we have seen in our lives, at least succeeding to get the result in favour of the person who creates emotional pressure. But does it last forever? Is it a healthy way of persuading anyone to change a decision? In such a situation, how do we avoid making mistake on both sides? Many advise and studies are conducted on social and emotional pressures which compel an individual occasionally. Well, the following are the steps which can somewhat help to resolve the situation:

1. What is at stake?: When one person creates emotional pressure on the other to do or refrain from doing something. A question should be asked, what is at stake? What will happen if the request is not granted? If the other person refuses to bend down to the emotional pressure, what will be the loss to the person who has created such pressure? What will be his benefit if the request is accepted by the other. If the stake is very high – in favour of the requesting person, creating a minimal loss on the acceding person, perhaps it is reasonable to agree. But if the case is reverse, not bowing to such pressure will be better.

2. How much emotions are actually involved?: Many times people creating such emotional pressure do not have any real emotions at all. The person who has to change his/her position because of such emotional pleading should certainly find out whether there is a real emotional connection between them. If not, why concede? Many times such demands are created to control the victim’s behaviour which later proves emotionally detrimental to the victim.

3. Is there any middle path or alternative?: While the emotional connection is really strong and we don’t want to hurt the other person, and if the stake is also very high in the other person’s favour, it is important to examine our decision. In case there is a middle path or alternative which can take care of both sides, it can be chosen. Examining the possibilities of finding a middle ground or alternative is a difficult task because high emotions are involved on both sides. And none of the sides would like to change their position/decision. But a little bit of flexibility will not hurt any of the sides emotionally and also serve the purpose of both of them.

4. Defer the decision: In case none of the solutions is working, it is better to give it time, and defer the decision for some time. In case it is about marriage, or job or divorce, whatever it might be, giving some time to implementation of the decision may resolve the issue. At least it will reduce the emotional intensity attached to it. Therefore, emotional pressure as well as emotional hurt will be much less. Possibly there will be no pressure at all or maybe there will be no need to take that decision.