A Communicator’s Al Chet

By Gail Hyman

[The following was originally published on eJewish Philanthropy, September 27, 2009. Image: Shraga Weil, Book of Life I, courtesy Safrai Fine Arts.]

As Yom Kippur approaches, I start to create a mental list of my actions that have caused harm or pain to someone over the past year. I will quietly recite them during the Yom Kippur Al Chet prayer.

During this exercise these past weeks, I became keenly aware that communication – or the lack of it – is often at the heart of my Al Chet confession. Whether it was my tone, my choice of words, my lack of responsiveness or my rush to say something and then get it wrong, failed communication is an important theme on my list.

I wonder how many of these transgressions of communications we all share.

  1. Failure to get all the facts right.
  2. Failure to communicate clearly – using words that precisely convey a thought; with no insider jargon or verbosity.
  3. Failure to write concisely – to edit down to the core ideas.
  4. Failure to actively listen as an essential part of communicating.
  5. Failure to allow others in a conversation to complete their thoughts before jumping in with yours.
  6. Failure to be open to hearing others’ opinions and points of view.
  7. Failure to recognize that there are many – not one – valid perspectives on a subject.
  8. Failure to speak out on matters that require your voice.
  9. Failure to appreciate and use new methods of communication.
  10. Failure to communicate more often with those who need and deserve your attention.

May your New Year be filled with good conversations.

Gail Hyman has held senior marketing and communications roles at Birthright Israel Foundation, UJC/JFNA and UJA Federation-NY. She regularly shared marketing insights on eJP between 2008-2011.