5 Things You Need to Sacrifice
What are the things you’re willing to sacrifice for? Anything? What are you willing to give up?
Nowadays, we’re used to getting what we want instantly. Try putting on an “old fashioned” DVD for a kid that’s never sat through the FBI warning before and watch the confusion and frustration mount. Or forget the kids—what do you look like when your Amazon order comes a day late or your Wi-Fi drops or it takes an entire two seconds for Google Maps to load?
We expect instant perfection, forgetting that most worthwhile things in life require time, patience, and sacrifice. “Sacrifice” means to give up or destroy something precious for the sake of something or someone else. Give up? Destroy? Those are not words we use much. We’d rather talk about gaining, winning, creating, and producing.
Yet good communication and good relationships require sacrifice. You have to pay—give, forfeit, shell out—attention at the very least. In his article, “Welcome to the World of Post-Apocalyptic Dating,” Benjamin Sledge wrote, “A relationship is not a microwave… There is no shortcut.” Convenience and efficiency don’t work when it comes to people, at least not if you’re looking for quality: communication that works and relationships that last. Stephen Covey pointed out in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People that you can’t be “efficient” with people. You have to be effective.
If you want to be a strong communicator and fill your life with healthy relationships, you must be willing to make some sacrifices. Here are five barriers you must be willing to give up:
1) Your internal dialog. Your brain can only process one conversation at a time. If you’re talking to yourself in your head, you’re not capable of having a real conversation with another human being. The mental chatter that goes on between your ears—running through your To Do list, thinking about what you’re going to say next, worrying about how you’re coming across, making up stories about what the other person thinks—detracts from your communication skills and ruins your relationships. You cannot pay attention to someone else if you’re giving all your attention to yourself. Sacrifice your internal dialog.
2) Jargon. You might think specialized verbiage makes you sound smart and important, but all it does is create obstacles. If the person you’re communicating with doesn’t understand you, what on earth is the point? Use words your audience understands, define terms, and provide context. The orientation my daughter and I attended when she switched schools was so full of terms and phrases we couldn’t understand that the entire event was a waste of time. If incomprehensible jargon can happen at a middle school informational meeting, it can happen anywhere. Give up the lingo and use words that get your message across.
3) Your agenda. Meetings need an agenda. You don’t. Stop trying to constantly get attention, praise, or power. Communication and connection can’t coexist with manipulation or intimidation. Eventually, you will get back what you give out, both good and bad. Let go of what you want… and you might end up with more of what you need.
4) Self-consciousness. As Rick Steves said, “Self-consciousness kills communication.” Self-consciousness is just as self-absorbed as arrogance. It’s an overinflated negative focus on the self, instead of an overinflated positive one, but it’s still self-focused. Give up your anxiety.
5) Your perspective. This one’s tough. (Who am I kidding? They’re all hard!) This one is difficult to get your mind wrapped around, I know. But the fact is that no one on the planet, not one single other person anywhere, sees things exactly the way you do. ZERO PEOPLE have your exact perspective. It’s simple physics. We can’t all be in the same place at the same time, learning and seeing and doing and experiencing and feeling the same things. It’s physically impossible for anyone else to have the exact same perspective that you have on life (or any little sliver of it), so stop expecting people to “get it.” You can explain and share and create experiences that help people understand your point of view, but you can’t expect them to be in the same place. It will never happen. Hoping or expecting that will shut down communication and drive a wedge in your relationships.
You instinctively do or have these five things. We all do, to some degree. They’re habits. Yet each one impedes your ability to communicate powerfully and relate deeply. Start by increasing your awareness of when and how you let these things get in the way. Then gradually begin to let them go. It will take some courage, because it feels a lot like giving up a security blanket. But you can do it. And once you see the positive results in your communication, your relationships, and your life, you’ll wish you’d started a whole lot sooner.