Body Language From Other Cultures That Nurses Should Understand

A hospital is often the place where different people of all walks of life are in. One thing that a nurse should know is that some people have different cultural background. When go nursing abroad, it is important to understand the culture of the place where you’re working.

Many would thought that a body language acceptable in the United States may not be applicable in some other countries. Some people may find a simple friendly gesture as a rude or hostile gesture towards them. When nurses are dealing with patients, it is important to take note of these body languages and gestures:

1. Handshake
Considered as the universal gesture of greeting, a simple handshake may have different meanings in other cultures. Most Americans prefer a firm handshake while the French prefer a soft and quick one. The Japanese offer their handshake with a bow. Make sure you you place your free hand on the forearm of the other person when you shake a hand from someone in the Middle East.

2. Bowing
Most Asian cultures consider bowing as a sign of respect but there are different degrees of bowing in different cultures. The Japanese bow with their arms pressed to their sides. Pakistanis bow with their right hand palm on their forehead while Cambodians and Laotians bow with their hands in front of their chests.

3. Hugging and Kissing
People hug and kiss to get comfort from loved ones and show gratitude to the nurses and staff but the customary hug and kiss vary from culture to culture. Spanish, Portuguese, Italians, Eastern Europeans, and Middle Eastern people exchange kisses on the cheek.

4. Eye contact
Exchanging eye contact can be a touchy situation even though a good eye contact means that you are engaged with your conversation with someone you are talking to. The Japanese may regard direct eye contact as insulting and rude. While people from the Middle East view eye contact as a way to know more about the person.

Nurses should understand people have their own way of using body language to convey important non-verbal communication cues. With different cultures comes misunderstanding and confusion. That is why it is important to ask question and respect for the different cultural customs and traditions.

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