How this transformative Hebrew word can clarify the way you think, communicate and act ➜
Dayenu (die – YAY – nu) defined
The Hebrew translation is “That would be sufficient”, and boiled down to one word … “ENOUGH”.
It’s also the title of a traditional one-thousand-years-old upbeat song that’s part of the Jewish holiday Passover. Every year as my family celebrates Passover we have a “Seder”, a special dinner, and we each read a paragraph from the “Haggadah” – the telling of the story of the exodus from slavery in Egypt to the freedom beyond; and we sing “Dayenu”.
This song is about being grateful to G-d for the gifts given to the Jewish people. A few lines:
“If G-d had brought us out from Egypt … Dayenu, it would have been sufficient!”
“If G-d had fed us only matza … Dayenu, it would have been sufficient!”
Dayenu in your life
❓ What’s “Dayenu / Enough” for you regarding money, possessions, or even Linked In likes & impressions?
❓ What’s “Dayenu / Enough” in terms of your professional achievements?
❓ What’s “Dayenu / Enough” when thinking about the relationships in your life?
❓ What would make you say, “Yes, that (fill in the blank) would be sufficient. That would be enough”?
You tell me… or rather, you tell yourself.
Dayenu in my life
This pic is our out-door Seder during the pandemic. Thank you, Nina & Bob, for being such gracious hosts every year. Dayenu.
We will once again sit around this table this week with loved ones and sing this song. That would be sufficient. Dayenu.
Stories make your message stick long after you’ve revealed your product benefits, shared your company’s new strategy or even emceed an event.
I had the honor of emceeing my National Speakers Association – North TX Chapter meeting recently. While introducing the featured speaker I shared a personal story highlighting the speaker.
“A while back, for another convention, I had the chance to drive our featured speaker from our airport to the venue. We got lost. Twice. At the same place. Underneath a pile of highway intersections in a restaurant parking lot with dumpsters to our left and the back of the restaurant to our right. Now, granted, we did not have sophisticated GPS systems nor cockpit panel screens in our cars yet, but I was one second away from crying/laughing with hysteria when we landed next to the dumpsters the second time. She grabbed my phone … and guided me out of this spot.”
“Why am I telling you this story?” I asked this current audience. “Because 2 weeks later she sent me a hand-written thank you note and never mentioned that this was the ride from hell. As speakers we talk about ‘walking our talk’ – being the same off the stage as on the stage. Our speaker did just that – she is a really nice person, even when no one is looking.”
The audience grasped the depth of her business credibility from the prepared introduction. The personalized story showed her kindness.
The story worked.
What I did NOT say in that driving story
Before picking her up at the airport I had an oncology doctor visit discussing my breast cancer diagnosis. I’m fine now (thankfully) but I was not fine that day. I’m sure that added to my driving duress.
What NOT to say in your stories
Don’t add extra info that sidetracks your story or does not move your story forward.
The story, as stated, is funny due to using self-deprecating humor. I expose my crummy driving. No one needs to know the real reason I kept getting lost.
Don’t overshare unnecessary info about yourself.
You may feel compelled to share ALL the details, but don’t do it IF it takes away from your story’s relevance.
Even before the pandemic the emphasis has been on digital communication. During the pandemic you may have experienced minimal conversation especially in person.
Now you might be feeling the pain of resuming small talk back in the office.
Jim and I meet in-person with our financial advisor group after two years of periodic virtual meetings. I find myself saying, just seconds after sitting down, “Ok, what’s our plan? Do we need to review, reframe, revisit…?”
Tommy replies with a smile, “First… how are you? What’s going on with your work and family?”
Oh… that’s right … I forget the chatting part of our visit.
What is the value of small talk?
According to Fast Company, “From the polite chitchat among coworkers that eases the start of a stressful meeting to building powerful bridges at networking events, small talk has always been an important ‘social lubricator’ that builds trust and relationships across cultures—even more so for early-career professionals after graduation.”
Is small talk a waste of time?
You might say “yes”. Covid created a time warp. Namely – 30 minutes is the new hour. You’re busy, stressed and want results… now. You only have so much Attention Economy.
Small talk is not a waste of time.
Think about an interaction you’ve had with a barista. Smiling, making eye contact and exchanging a few sentences while ordering your Venti Chai has been found to boost happiness and feelings of belonging.
A quick chat with someone you barely know can uplift your mood or avert feelings of loneliness.
A few brief interactions help gauge the mood of a room and the tone of a discussion.
Professionally, small talk presents opportunities to get to know and hear your clients. You may learn something new about the customer that you can then use in later conversation, or one interaction may turn into someone signing a deal with your company.
Most of all … according to psychologist Susan Pinker, social interaction (including small talk) is the #1 secret to living a longer life.
So, how are you? What’s going on with your family and friends these days?
My husband, Jim, asks our dinner host, “Herb, how did you get into your business?”, while our onion ring appetizer gets dropped off at our table.
Herb takes a bite of one big onion ring and begins his business origin story.
Herb goes back to his childhood days… talking with detours, tangents and sidebars.
As he talks, he gestures with this onion ring in his left hand – one bite in.
I’m mesmerized… but NOT with his monologue. Will the onion fall out of its sheath? Will this onion ring fly out of his hand? Can we start eating our main course – which arrives somewhere in between Herb’s second and third job?
While Herb has an interesting fun story to tell – he fails at the art of compelling conversation.
The Cold Onion Rings
Conversations are dialogues, not monologues. As leaders you might feel justified in hogging the floor at your company happy hours, networking events, or even for those few minutes before your meetings.
You find out nothing about your dinner mates if you’re doing all the talking.
This onion ring appetizer gets cold. (Maybe a heart-healthy blessing – ok… delete the word “maybe”.)
Try not to be repetitive.
Stay out of the weeds. We don’t care whether it was Wednesday or Thursday when you got that email.
Compelling Conversation Guidelines
Be relatable. How can your info be useful to others?
Be timely. Is your topic relevant?
Be meaningful. Does anyone care about what you’re saying?
Be brief. Can you share your good stuff without getting sidetracked?
Listen. Can you stop talking and ask questions?
Onion Ring Manifesto
Herb* isn’t the only example of this monologue fiasco. Jim asks a great question. Herb, and everyone who receives an open-ended question, must keep the answer short and keep the ping pong ball in motion.
*False name, true tale, he finally ate that onion ring.
Author: Karen Cortell Reisman is Founder of Speak For Yourself®, a communication consulting firm, and the author of 2 books on how to communicate & sell. She lives in Dallas, TX and tries not to eat onion rings anyway.