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Focus your communication

Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favor with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, grant me my life—this is my petition. And spare my people—this is my request.

- Esther 7:3

Esther was not caught up in the histrionics of the dangerous situation that she and her people are in. Though we’re sure she was feeling strong emotions, she didn’t fall apart. She stayed focused.

There’s something simple and spare about her request that increases its force, that gives it clarity and punch. “What do you want?” the king asks. “My life,” Esther answers.

What else could she have said? She could have asked him to repeal the law, but that might have made him defensive. She could have asked him to make a tactical maneuver, but that might have devolved into a political debate (and with the smooth-talking Haman present, who knows how that would have gone for Esther). No, she asked for her life.

Esther refused to dilute the persuasiveness of her request.

Think about this in our lives. Imagine you’re asking your supervisor for a raise. You present charts and graphs and portfolios and pictures of your kids and make an elaborate case. And it gets shot down, gently. Your supervisor agrees to look at the proposal but doesn’t get around to it. You’ve diluted your request.

Imagine a conflict with a spouse. Something frustrates you and before you know it, you’ve listed a dozen things he or she hasn’t done. While you’re catching your breath and trying to remember how you got started, they list a dozen things you’ve done (that you had said you wouldn’t do!). Now you’re on the defensive, so you escalate. Nothing changes. The distraction of your list of a dozen things diluted your request.

Don’t let distractions bury the things that matter most to you in your requests and your conflicts.

Where do you need to be more focused in your communication today?

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