© 2015 Kebba Buckley Button, MS, OM. World Rights Reserved.
Centuries ago, French was the international language. If you wanted to talk to anyone from any country, both of you used French. In recent centuries, English has enjoyed that prominence. With over 600 languages on the Planet, your best bet for communicating with the most people is to try English. But what if you’re talking with someone who doesn’t speak it? And you don’t speak their language? Or perhaps you don’t even know what their language is?
I have found that kindness trumps all. I live in a very international neighborhood. We are widely diverse in age, economic status, ideas about clothing, food we choose, countries of origin, languages, and of course religion. I can speak American, British, some French, some German, and some Spanish. So I’m ahead of many. I can understand a lot more of various languages than I can speak. But I have found that kind people can communicate very well without any similarity in language.
Kind words can be short and easy to speak,
but their echoes are truly endless.
~ Mother Teresa
Take the day I stepped out of my car at a huge grocery store and saw a balloon floating rapidly past me. I mean rapidly! I looked in the direction it seemed to be coming from, and I saw a man and a small boy looking distressed. They were wearing Middle Eastern garb, the pajama-like loose outfits often seen in Afghanistan. I was wearing a skirted suit and heels. With no time to waste, I took off running after that balloon, as if Life On This Planet depended on it. 100 yards later, I caught it and yelled something clever, like,”YESSSS!!” A bit embarrassed, I carried the balloon back through the wind to the astonished waiting pair. Their faces said everything. Someone had been kind to them in their new country. The father gave me a very grave look, tucked his chin, and said, “Tink yoo Leddy.” Had we communicated? Perfectly! Perhaps they think of the crazy blond lady now, sometimes when they see balloons.
Consider now the great neighborhood nail salon. I went there following the wisdom of a popular review website. After 2 years, I am still getting exquisite, gracious service and beautiful nails that last ridiculously long. The staff speak mainly Vietnamese and gestures. I speak mainly very simple English plus gestures. We have become very fond of each other and sometimes share stories.
Kindness is the language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see.
~ Mark Twain
When I sit in the nail chair and it squeaks, I do a sitting dance and laugh. And we all crack up together. We read each other’s faces and know right away if we’re getting our point across or drawing a blank. One day my manicurist was very excited and laughing. She pointed to a woman at the front of the salon, getting a pedicure. She kept saying, proudly and happily, “[S]he mail! She mail!” I finally got it: the postperson for the salon, a female mail carrier, had decided to come in for a pedicure. It was a new horizon in their relationship. I was happy with them. Kindness is our primary language.
In the big membership discount store, I was looking for fresh snacks for a seminar group. Almost done with my tour of the 2-acre store, my eyes lit on fresh cherries in another shopper’s basket. Wahoo! There was an Asian-looking gentleman (Korean? Thai?) leaning on the cart handle, considering his list. I was hesitant to step across any cultural boundaries. Do women speak to unknown men in wherever-he’s-from? [I know, he could have been from LA, but my instincts turned out to be right.]
I really wanted some cherries for my group, now that I knew they were somewhere in the store. I took a deep breath and went over to him. Pointing to the cherries and smiling, I asked, “Excuse me, where did you find the cherries?” He gestured politely to the Cold Room. I said, “[A]h! That Cold Room! Thank you so much!” Now what happened next? He went to the Cold Room, 60 feet away, with me and showed me exactly where the cherries were, pointing politely! I was so touched. I exclaimed with delight, thanked him twice and said, “you are very kind.” I believe he understood me.
Kindness: the New International Language. Meeting someone who doesn’t speak your language doesn’t have to cause stress. Watch the person’s face, smile, be kind, and do your best. Laugh together when it feels right. We’re all on one planet together. It feels good to connect, with kindness.
- If you enjoy this post, please click “like” in the FB widget in the right hand column. You’ll have our undying gratitude plus a huge rise in your Good Karma! Due to a recent FB change, our “likes” look low. Thanks for your help!
- Kebba Buckley Button is a stress management expert. She also has a natural healing practice and is an ordained minister. She is the author of the award-winning book, Discover The Secret Energized You (http://tinyurl.com/b44v3br), plus the 2013 book, Peace Within: Your Peaceful Inner Core, Second Edition(http://tinyurl.com/mqg3uvc ). Her newest book is Sacred Meditation: Embracing the Divine, available through her office. Just email SacredMeditation@kebba.com.
- For an appointment or to ask Kebba to speak for your group: firstname.lastname@example.org .