Culture is an important aspect for multicultural countries such as the US because the difference in its concepts merged with diverse real-life contexts reveals the need for cultural awareness. One of such fields is medicine where the clinical staff and the patients may represent a big variety of nations. Often, they significantly differ on the basis of multiple characteristics such as the ways of greeting, the readiness to discuss individual problems, the perception of personal space and others. As a result, there is a need for every medical worker to explore specific patterns of individual cultural communication in order to be efficient in the given area.
This paper is devoted to the analysis of the aspects of individual cultural communication of the Cubans and reveals that the representatives of the mentioned nation have unique cultural references, traditions, and beliefs that differentiate them from other nationalities. No doubt, nurses of Cuban origin require cultural awareness of the most critical differences of their culture with the ones of Asian, American, European, and other peoples. The knowledge and recognition of these dissimilarities lead to positive psychological climate during interaction with patients and colleagues and improvement of efficacy of communication. Furthermore, this strategy allows avoiding the potential problems caused by cultural misunderstandings because of which patients may suffer mentally or physically.
I am a person of the Cuban origin, and my cultural ancestry can be mostly defined as Hispanic. However, some of the aspects of the Cubans culture differ from their Hispanic counterparts because of the unique development. Scholars define culture as the totality of socially transmitted behavioral patterns, arts, beliefs, values, customs, lifeways, and all other products of human work and thought characteristics of a population that guide their worldview and decision-making. When comparing and contrasting these characteristics with the ones of other ethnic communities, I recognize that Cubans not only look somewhat differently but also operate with unique cultural concepts of their community. In order to trace these dissimilarities, this research uses the culture guide written by Purnell, who reveals diverse cultural patterns bound to specific cultural communities.
One of the factors that caused a cultural difference of Cubans from the nearby located Hispanic-inhabited Mexico is embargo placed by the US and the political and social tensions including Cuban Revolution. As a result, nurses should be aware that Cuban colleagues and patients may take opposite political positions about the present Cuban government and the position of the US towards Cuba engaging in political discussions. Moreover, due to recent political oppression and tensions, the people from Cuba may support various militaristic ideas which by no means are connected with any action. Moreover, they are not accustomed to luxury and may characterize the indicators of a luxury life as a waste of money. Besides, a minor percent of Cuban citizens believe in spiritualism and rituals and other related kinds of witchcraft that allow them communicating with the dead. Other unique features of the culture include a high value of family connections, the custom of speaking loudly and fast, etc. In particular, the most crucial differences lie in the spheres of thoughts and feelings expression, touch and its meaning, the perception of personal space, the role of eye contact, gestures, and others.
Cubans can be called loud and open because they freely express their feelings and emotions. For instance, a Cuban nurse characterizes this situation in this way, Our language is everything to us. We are proud to speak loudly we love to socialize anywhere with family and friends. Sometimes, it confuses the individuals from Asian cultures, who seem to be introverted and reserved.
Additionally, it is a norm for a Cuban person to burst into tears and cry when a death occurs. In such situations, grief and loud crying are common, and women wear black clothes because, in this culture, the refusal from the colored outfit is associated with the expression of sorrow. This factor serves as another proof that the individuals of Cuban culture freely share thoughts, feelings, and ideas.
Cubans socialize not only to share information but sometimes, communication brings them a psychological relief, which is why they tend not to conceal information. For instance, an important feature of the nation under consideration is that Cubans may argue very loud or heatedly until the argument exhausts all the participants. Very often, such clashes do not mean to harm anyone but serve as a means of expression of relief because of the accumulated emotions. So, as one can see, the representatives of Cuban ethnicity are very emotional people.
However, just as in any culture, they have some taboos which may be a bad talk about a family or relatives, or an attempt to hurt someones mother or women in general. Moreover, Cubans do not tell rude jokes or talk about someones death if a person is alive, or harass women or a family using words.
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In Cuban culture, touch is an important component of etiquette and is obligatorily included in different social conventions, in particular, when one talks about greeting people. For example, a handshake is a custom in the case two men meet for the first time during a day. Similarly, a man can kiss a woman on the cheek with the aim of greeting. These actions are essential because if one fails to do so it might be a demonstration of neglect and disrespectful behavior, which would hurt a person. Furthermore, it is necessary to outline that the touch is not associated with sexual connotations in Cuba, which is why a person can express affection by means of touching. As one can see, such a conduct may lead to problems in the US, which is why people from Cuba have to be aware of the state laws that regulate the aspects of touch in other countries.
One may say that in Cuba, the role and the need for touch are different when an individual is with unknown people and friends and family members. To illustrate, strangers should shake hands when they greet each other whereas friends may hug and sometimes kiss each other. In the family setting, such a behavior is not regulated by any rules because hospitality and warm-hearted conduct are the characteristics of this culture. So, it is possible that a health provider might want to greet a patient with a touch; however, it requires additional cultural and law awareness in order not to cause problems for the patient and the caregiver.
As one may conclude from the role of touch, Cubans have very little personal space because they represent a collective, friendly and open-minded culture. As a result, it might lead to specific issues when communicating with the individuals from the US, Western Europe, and Japan because they highly value their personal space. Consequently, the situation when a Cuban nurse is loudly explaining something to his or her Cuban colleague or a patient is normal. However, in the case she/he communicates with a citizen from France, they may feel discomfort or even feel pressured because of the violation of private space. Thus, Cubans do not value their private space and privacy as much as people in the US (Cuba, n. d.). Partially, this has been caused by living in small cities, houses, and apartments where people are close to each other. In Cuban realities, a lot of individuals often live in poor districts and overpopulated areas and have no opportunity for having any private or personal space. This fact also explains why Cubans represent a collectivistic culture where they can freely turn to an unknown person for help violating his or her private space, greeting with a hug, which is a norm. In this situation, they usually treat the friends and family members and the strangers in the same way.
The role of eye contact in Cuban culture is tightly intertwined with social conventions and characteristics of a person. It is a typical situation for a Cuban individual to look into the eyes of his or her counterpart. Thus, eye contact represents sincerity and truthfulness, which is why if a person avoids it, a Cuban person might have a suspicion of dishonesty. This practice is shared by all the representatives of the Cuban community, and there is no difference whether people communicate when being friends, strangers or persons of different age groups. In all these cases, eye contact is encouraged and leads to the positive individual impression.
A partial reason for the use of eye contact by Cubans is explained by the fact that they tend to use gestures and often change facial expressions. Due to the fact that they are very emotional, they use gestures attempting to express grief, joy, inability to understand, etc. At the same time, their face muscles do not remain motionless and allow decoding their feelings and thoughts. For instance, sometimes, during a heated argument, a Cuban individual may wave hands, shake his or her head and speak loudly expressing anger, disagreement or irritation. Such actions may scare people who value their personal space, fear gestures or are used to the moderate loudness of the voice. Basically, Cubans freely demonstrate their emotions disregarding their positive or negative meaning.
In general, the Cuban culture shares the present and past oriented features. The reason for present orientation is that Cuban people enjoy the present moment and share it with friends and relatives without paying specific attention to the future. Nevertheless, at the same time, they value the memory about their predecessors very much which reveals itself through religious rituals in remembrance of their dead relatives and friends.
Having analyzed the cultural aspects of the Cuban culture, one can distinguish some practical aspects that may impact the nursing career. The strength of a Cuban person is the ability to work hard and feel no burden, but his/her weakness may be the lack of ability to control emotions. At the same time, a Cuban nurse should avoid touching patients and colleagues when he/she greets them in the case they represent a culture that respects personal space very much. Furthermore, in some communities, the use of the eye contact may be seen as a violation of social norms and lead to discomfort or abuse. Additionally, one should control their gestures and try to speak not very loudly in order not to cause tension among patients and colleagues. All in all, one has to bypass the actions that may cause problems at the workplace in order to provide safe and efficient care.
Summarizing the presented ideas, the paper arrives at a conclusion that cultural references and concepts may greatly impact a nursing career. In particular, one has to admit that some patterns of the behavior and beliefs of the Cubans are different from those of the representatives of other cultures. For instance, the voice might be perceived by patients and colleagues as very loud, one may violate someones personal space, and so on. Recognition of the cultural peculiarities in the nursing profession is important because, without it, one may hurt or cause discomfort to patients or colleagues who originate from other countries. Therefore, analyzing the aspects of their culture, people can obtain tools that will allow them to adequately estimate their behavior and beliefs.