danegeld  “Give me (some outrageous demand), or I will (do something that negatively affects you and impedes your goals.)”

If this sounds familiar, then someone is probably trying to force you to appease them. My advice: Tell them to “fuck off” now. Seriously. There is no appeasing people like this because they actually don’t want to be appeased. Their goal is one of a constant grievance, a constant demand to be made whole, yet none of your efforts will ever do that.

To underscore my point, consider this quote from British military historian and strategist, Sir Basil Liddell Hart:

“It is folly to imagine that the aggressive types, whether individuals or nations, can be bought off … since the payment of danegeld stimulates a demand for more danegeld. But they can be curbed. Their very belief in force makes them more susceptible to the deterrent effect of a formidable opposing force.”

*Note: Danegeld is “Danish Gold,” aka the bribes countries used to pay Danish Vikings not to raid. History has shown that this policy didn’t work because the Viking’s price kept on going up, and other Vikings started demanding it too. Even after being paid large sums of gold and treasure, the Vikings often raided, anyway.

Appeasing People Never Works!

So what is Sir Basil Liddell Hart trying to teach us here? In my opinion, he’s really trying to tell us three things… three simple truths that few people consider when dealing with people who are making ridiculous demands:

1. Threatening to take something away from someone until you are appeased is an act of aggression, and anyone who does this is an aggressive person.

2. Appeasing someone carries with it NO guarantee of reciprocal behavior on the part of the aggressor. (In fact, it often produces the opposite effect.)

3. When threatened, it is best to respond with force, since force – not reason, ideas, or soft talk – is the only thing that aggressive people respect and respond to.

The problem is that many people have a hard time believing that the people in their life can be aggressive or act out in an aggressive manner. Instead, we make excuses for the people in our lives. “Oh, she didn’t mean that. You just don’t know her like I do.” Or how about this one: “He’s not normally mean… It’s just the whiskey that makes him that way.” Whatever the reason, whatever the excuse, people are inherently aggressive and they act out on their aggression. It’s just that simple.

Trying to Appease Mr. FanTAStic

To prove my point about appeasement, I’ll share a personal story. (No advice is complete without one, in my opinion.) It happened long ago when I used to front a punk rock band in Flint, Michigan. Long story short, we took in a new member – “Mr. FanTAStic.” And he was a rather talented musician… and we needed him at the time. The problem was, Mr. FanTAStic knew this, and he began making small demands. It was always the same thing: “Give me what I want or I’ll quit.”

Against my better judgement, we paid Mr. FanTAStic his “danegeld,” and this created a pattern. His subsequent demands continued, each one more difficult to satisfy than the next… but still, we kept paying the danegeld, always hoping that his most recent demand would be his last. I quickly began to resent his constant threat to quit the band unless he got what he wanted.

Perhaps Mr. FanTAStic thought that this could go on forever. Sadly, he was wrong. Eventually, the day came where the demand he made was so outrageous, so insulting, that I could no longer hold my tongue. I finally exploded upon him after and unleashed months of pent up anger and frustration. (For a more detailed account, read here.)

Appeasing People Never Ends

I kicked Mr. FanTAStic out of the band, but it did little good at that point. The rest of the band – so-called “friends” who’d been with the project long before Mr. FanTAStic showed up – now saw me as some sort of psychotic monster for the way I yelled at him. This was the least of my worries.

Mr. FanTAStic’s antics seemed to have inspired the other members of the band. Not long after his departure, they began making demands for their own “danegeld.” I almost couldn’t blame them; it worked for Mr. FanTAStic, after all. Seeing that I would be spending more time trying to please them than I would playing music, I pulled the plug on the project and haven’t talked to those guys since.

Appeasement is a Bad Long-Term Strategy

Those who make demands are aggressive people, and holding your relationship hostage is a blatant act of aggression. And much like the historical vikings, these folks can never be appeased because appeasement is never their goal. These calculating miscreants have a diabolical long-term strategy: to drain you of everything you have, then cast you aside before moving on to their next victim.

If you followed the link to the original story, you’ll see that finally standing up to Mr. FanTAStic was the only thing that ceased his demands. And pulling the plug on the band was the only way to stop the other guys’ demands for danegeld. While this ended my days in the local music scene – I never could get another band together – it allowed me to pursue my writing career. In the end, I’m much happier having to rely only upon myself to find fulfillment through my art.

Not All Vikings are Bad

Not all vikings/Norsemen demanded “Danegeld.” Check out my novel “Legacy of the Bear” and its sequel, “Prophecy of the Bear.” This fantasy-adventure series follows the life of Autar Magnusson, a young Norseman who faces his greatest fears in order to become a man… and so much more. Fans of fantasy fiction such as “The Hobbit,” “Lord of the Rings” and “Game of Thrones” will love my Berserker’s Saga novels.

About J.P. Ribner

J.P. Ribner is the author of Viking fantasy adventure series “The Berserker’s Saga.” Currently, the saga features two novels – “Legacy of the Bear” and “Prophecy of the Bear.” For more about his written work, check out his website.

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Comments
  1. Hahaha love your tags 😀
    Great piece!

  2. […] but we kept playing, anyway. Sadly, those days had to come to an end, as previously chronicled here and there on Trauma […]

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