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Free Essay Sample «Individual Cultural Communication»

«Individual Cultural Communication»

Looking after people who are old, ill, or injured is an issue of global importance; however, it requires an understanding of certain cultural patterns. Cultural competence is a fundamental notion in the care of people. For this reason, a variety of factors should be taken into consideration while attending individuals of different cultural origins. Larry D. Purnell developed a theory that is known as the Purnell's Model for Cultural Competence. The idea is that every culture has its aspects to consider in nursing. Purnell (2013) presents a model according to which such factors as cultural ancestry, a meaning of touch, eye contact, and other traditional ways of communication are analyzed. The current paper discusses the Cuban pattern of communication in order to establish the impact that the Cuban culture has on health care and nursing.

Cultural Ancestry

Even being located on an island, Cuba was never isolated. Presently, Cuban culture reflects influences of different cultures. The main influence was made by Spanish and African cultures. The most distinguished part of a cultural ancestry is Cuban music and dancing that particularize in Latin styles known all over the world as rumba, salsa, cha-cha, mambo, and others.

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Cuban people speak Spanish, but many of them are fluent in the American English language that they often use at work. This makes nursing easier by taken away a language barrier.

The Willingness of Individuals to Share Thoughts

Cubans are friendly; they share thoughts and ideas openly. Coworkers may discuss problems and personal concerns. Private life may also be a subject of conversation in a circle of friends and family. A family is very important for people of the Cuban origin. Sometimes, members of a family live together up to three generations. Such cohabitation is a result of the economic situation as well as a tradition. It may be advisable to speak about a family in order to start a conversation and connect with a patient.

It should be noted that Cuba is a socialist country. Thus, some topics of conversation are defined by a political system and “since Socialism is not a democratic system with freedom of expression, people are afraid of being labeled as enemies of the government” (Centre for Intercultural Learning, 2009). It can be said that a discussion of a political situation is considered to be a taboo. Nevertheless, in a family circle, one may hear a political joke or a humorous story about events in the country. Traditionally, one should restrain from talking about social status and religion to prevent conflicts of interest.

The Meaning of Touch in the Cuban Culture

The meaning of touch is significant in the Cuban culture. A physical contact takes place in different forms depending on the audience. Family members and friends practice touch on the regular basis. They may hug, shake hands, and kiss. It can be stated that a phrase “close people” may be understood literally here. If people know each other well, it may be rude for a man not to greet a woman with a kiss. Women are kissed on the cheek, men shake hands. Touching is a way to demonstrate a feeling of liking, caring, and love. In this instance, touching does not carry any sexual meaning and is not tabooed. Therefore, health care providers may be free to examine a patient.

Personal Spatial and Distancing Strategies

In order to help a person, one must know how to approach him or her correctly. It is a feature of many cultures including the Cuban one to maintain a distance during conversation. If one stands too close during the dialogue, he or she may make another person uncomfortable. However, there is a difference that may be felt when communicating with friends and family versus strangers. Interactions with coworkers, relatives, and friends allow keeping short distance with both man and woman while strangers are usually kept at a distance.

The Eye Contact in the Cuban Culture

The eye contact is an integral element of every communication. People establish the eye contact between family members, friends, strangers, and people of different age groups. There are no restrictions in this area. Negative connotations appear only in case when the eye contact is avoided. A refusal to keep such a contact may be acknowledged as an indicator of dishonesty or a sign of disrespect.

The Meaning of Gestures and Facial Expressions

Cubans gesticulate when they need to illustrate something or emphasize a meaning behind words. In Cuba, facial expressions do not differ from those used in other countries and they are shown to convey emotions and feelings even in public. The significance of this phenomenon is in a demonstration of affection. What is more, display of emotions is an accepted way of communication. During a dialogue, a person often expects another one to illustrate attitude using mimics and general body language. On the one hand, appearance of positive emotions and states such as joy, happiness, friendship, and love helps to connect with people. On the other hand, facial expressions that show anger and other negative emotions are considered to be rude and are widely criticized. One should remember that active gesticulation and mimics are not considered proper conduct.

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Acceptable Ways of Standing and Greeting People

Cubans do not distinguish between men and women when greeting. It is habitual to stay within arm’s reach and shake hands. Close relationships enable a person to give a quick kiss when greeting. The language is informal; one may say “tu” meaning a friendly “you”. There is a difference in greeting between those who are much older or have a higher status. In such cases, people are addressed by their first names. A conversation requires the use of more official “usted” that stands for “you” but shows more respect.

The Prevailing Temporal Relation of the Culture

One of the major characteristics of the Cuban culture to take into consideration is its temporal relation. It is a common occurrence that the prevailing worldview is either past, present, or future. Here, Cubans are believed to be present-oriented, especially in comparison with other cultures such as European Americans who are mostly future-oriented (Purnell, 2013).

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The Impact of Cuban Culture on Nursing

Apart from the discussed points, the Cuban culture represents a set of difficulties related to the health care. Firstly, a concept of the “healthy body” is defined in the Cuban culture by means of being attractive and fat. However, being fat often provokes a number of diseases (for example, heart failures), which may complicate nursing. Secondly, it is hard to change the diet when it is necessary since Cubans are used to consume food that is high in calories. Thirdly, Cubans practice homeopathy. They may drink different herbal teas adding anis, chamomile, aloe vera, and other plants. Fourthly, it is important to realize that “Latino healing traditions include …Santeria in Brazil and Cuba.... Most of these traditions distinguish natural illness from supernatural illness” (Juckett, 2005, p. 2270). People may reject traditional medicine and use non-traditional healing techniques that involve certain herbs, drumming, and sacred dances. As it was mentioned above, dancing is one of the cultural heritages. Representatives of the Cuban culture need to trust in modern ways of healing that include certified drugs and produce positive result confirmed by different tests and statistics.

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The discussed Cuban cultural pattern requires certain understating of the main features. It is established on the basis of the Purnell's Model for Cultural Competence that nonverbal communication is a significant factor in nursing and health care. The analyzed information shows that music and dancing are closely associated with Cuban ancestry. The Cuban people are willing to share thoughts, feelings, and ideas openly. It should be noted that there are no taboos like in other cultures where conversations about politics, social status, and religion have to be avoided. Moreover, touching is commonly used to show affection between friends and family. A long distance should be maintained between strangers while friends and family keep a short distance between each other. An absence of eye contact is believed to be a rude act and a sign of dishonesty. Gestures and facial expressions convey meanings of words, feelings and emotions. The Cuban culture is present-oriented. These points help to adequately explain the impact of the Cuban culture on nursing. The major factors that individualize the culture find its particularization in a tradition related to curing and healing activities. Thus, one is perceived to be healthy if he or she is fat. However, fat may lead to different diseases. In Cuba, illness is likely to be cured with herbal teas and ritual practices. Such beliefs may be an obstacle to nursing. Taken this into consideration, one should explain the benefits of traditional medicine in order to be able to help a person of the Cuban origin.


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