Communication is Self-Sacrificing

“Listen to understand.” That phrase sounds simple. It truly takes empathy and emotional intelligence to understand a person. So, I’ve been training myself to listen to understand. Of course, it takes practice, and it isn’t easy. Sometimes I’m in my mind telling myself, “Okay, listen. Focus.” Also, it’s confusing when communicating through social media. So, I will be focusing strictly on personal communication.

Sarah White, freelance writer, editor, and professional crafter, writes: “put your phone down” to begin with. Here are the other tips: 

  • Pay attention to their tone of voice, body language, and the type of eye contact they are making.
  • Listen with your body. For example, turn toward them and nod.
  • Don’t interrupt. 
  • Don’t respond. Repeat back what they said, like a summary. 
  •  Finally, you can respond respectfully.

All this may seem easy, but it’s not, especially in our culture today, with an attention span of thirteen seconds, like a TikTok video. 

In Broken Lenses: Identifying YOUR truth in a World of Lies, Emily Bernath writes about boredom. She writes, “Dullness is a choice.” She points out that in the book of Hebrews in the Bible, Paul (or to some unknown author) notes that the people in the church had “become dull of hearing.” It is a biblical perspective, but it can apply to anyone. Emily also states, “…we allow our perception of boredom to limit our greatness” in our relationships. This means we have to be intentional and self-sacrificing in how we communicate. When you’re bored in a conversation, it’s a choice. 

Of course, communication is a two-way street and not one-way. I’ve been in situations where one person dominates the conversation. That’s not self-sacrificing at all. That’s selfish, and we’ve all probably been on both ends. But it’s all a learning process. Sarah White encourages her readers that you have to realize that it takes practice. 

What about venting?

I didn’t know there was a boundary in having a person vent to you. I listened to a short post on Instagram by Mel Robbins. She is an American podcast host, author, and motivational speaker. She said you should give a friend time to process things if life is rough on them. Mel says, “I give you six months to wallow” after that, you’re bringing the pain on your own. Of course, she’s talking about losing a job or breaking up–not something like losing a loved one tragically. It stunned me because I have wallowed on things for over six months. I thought, “I don’t want to do that to my loved ones anymore. That’s not fair.” Fix it, or let it go and move on. Personally, I now run to God first.

But I, too, have listened to friends wallow and complain for years about the same things, either about their economic status or their relationship, to name a few. I dreaded talking to them and sometimes thought, “Here we go again (sighs).” People need to vent. That’s fine. But if it’s the same thing repeatedly for years, see a therapist or write in a journal. There’s no need to be putting your family and friends through that type of stress, especially if you’re not looking for a solution to your situation. Again, it takes self-sacrifice. 

Please note, I’m not saying you and I shouldn’t vent to those we trust. We should. I hope you have someone to vent to. And definitely speak up if you’re in a threatening situation. 

We must be discerning in how we communicate–read the room. Having our heads down like a flamingo on our cell phones will not help us gain better communication skills. Putting the phone down is also self-sacrifice.

“I saw that you were perfect, and so I loved you. Then I saw that you were not perfect and I loved you even more.”

Angelita Lim
Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi on


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