[Extracted from the monthly ECO NEWS - August 2019]
Our Big Book - 80 Years, 71 Languages
This title is the theme of our 69th General Service Conference. The topic of 71 languages was interesting for me to explore; these are some of my thoughts:
I have knowledge of many languages, but I am master of none. I know very little French, I flunked out of German in college, and have lots of trouble with Spanish…. I can discuss a bit about English.
If I were to call myself a master of something, it would be in Metalinguistics. That’s a word to explain everything around the words we use. It’s how we communicate: our tone of voice, inflection, rate of speech, volume and body language that goes with the message. Metalinguistics is present in all languages.
I learned about Metalinguistics as a Speech Language Pathologist; it was the favorite part of my job. I worked with children who don’t understand non-verbal cues, body language, timing, volume or inflection. It was amazing to me that some people don’t get this. There’s a sign in a school that says: “Thirty years from now, no one will recall what kind of car you drove, or remember what kind of house you lived in, but everyone will remember how you made them feel” – that’s what metalinguistics is about. And that made me think…
When I open my mouth to speak, listeners are already getting a lot of information based on – what my body is doing…. and what my face looks like. How am I moving my body – am I relaxed or tense, moving quickly or slowly, it all conveys a message.
Do I have an approachable posture or am I standing with my arms crossed, bracing for something. Do I slouch in my chair in meetings, acting bored when speakers share? Is my body conveying compassion or contempt?
Am I giving someone those non-verbal negative vibes by coughing, fidgeting, rolling my eyes or looking at the ceiling when a speaker is long-winded, or off topic? It wasn’t too long ago when I was that person: talking too long, relishing the spotlight, getting derailed by the wanderings of my newly sober brain….and yet fellow members were patient with me. They loved me until I could recognize these flaws.
Is my hand outstretched to greet the newcomer, before any words come out? When I do reach out, am I in a hurry, quick to get it over with, or am I moving with intention to convey a sincere welcome?
And my face – is it showing the love, courtesy and welcome that I was given when I first walked into a meeting? My friend often said to me: “Are you happy, Becky? Yes? Then tell your face!” Smiling helps a lot. I try to remember to smile before I walk into a room, especially if I don’t feel like it. Being the first to say ‘hi’ has always impressed me…so I try to do that, with every person I see.
When I do use my words, is my tone of voice one of authority… or kindness. How is my volume – am I loud enough…too loud, or do I mumble? Do I talk at people or do I share with people? In closing, I will read my Reconstructed Responsibility Pledge: “I am responsible….when anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want the A.A. outstretched hand and face of kindness always to be there. And for that: I am responsible.”
Thanks for your time and thank you always for my sobriety.
Area 78 Delegate, Alberta, NWT, W. Nunavut