Individual Cultural Communication. Nicaraguan Culture

Introduction

The Purnells model is represented by a circular model with four rings. The outer ring represents the global society. This ring holds aspects such as politics, international exchanges in different areas such as commerce and technology, war and conflicts, natural disasters and the increasing ability of people to travel the world while interacting with different societies. The second one represents the community which is defined as people who share identity or have a common interest and are living in a specific location. The third ring represents the family. Family is defined as two or more people who are emotionally involved. The fourth ring represents a person. A person is defined as a human being who is always adapting.

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Nicaraguan Pattern of Communication

The Nicaraguan people inhabit The Republic of Nicaragua in Central America. 98% of the population speaks Spanish. English is also used widely as a second language. Indigenous languages such as Miskito are also used especially in the Atlantic coast. Roman Catholicism is the most popular religion among the Nicaragua people. They have strong religious, music and folklore traditions. Nicaraguan people are known for being warm, welcoming, having huge smiles and being genuinely friendly.

Nicaraguan people use a lot of body language when communicating. Their gestures are very pronounced and they may be confusing to people who are new to the culture. They value closeness especially when communicating with close friends or family. However, when communicating with a stranger it is appropriate to keep a certain distance. Touching during the conversation between close friends is also acceptable.

Cultural Ancestry

Most of the Nicaraguan people belong to the Mestizo and White ethnic groups. These two ethnic groups reside to the west of the country and they make up approximately 85% of the countrys population. Majority of Mestizos and Whites are of Spanish ancestry but there is a percentage of Whites who are of French, Italian or German descent. Apart from that, there is another ethnic group called the Amerindians who make up approximately 5% of the population. The Amerindians are descendants of the indigenous people of Nicaragua. Nicaraguas pre-colonial population consisted of several indigenous groups including the Nicarao people from whom the countrys name was derived, the Mayans, the Chibit who originated from South America, the Ramas and the Sumos. The remaining 10% of the population is made up of black people who are mainly located in the Atlantic coast. Majority of the black population are of Antillean or West Indian origin, ancestors of Jamaican laborers who were brought to the region when it was a British protectorate.

I associate with the Mestizo ethnic group which is the most dominant in Nicaragua. The name Mestizo is derived from a Spanish word mes.tiso which means mixed. This is because the Mestizo people have a mixed ancestry which is European and Amerindian.

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Willingness to Share Thoughts, Feelings and Ideas

The Nicaragua people are willing to communicate directly and share thoughts, ideas and feelings except in certain situations and when discussing particular topics. For instance when communicating to an educated stranger, uneducated Nicaraguans may be unwilling to communicate due to fear of exposing their lack of knowledge. In such an instance they seem timid and keep their thoughts to themselves. Apart from that, many of them are interested in sharing thoughts and feelings about the countrys politics. However, most refrain from publicly airing their political views because their jobs may depend on their loyalty to a political party (White & Calderon, 2008). Since the unemployment rate is very high people are concerned about losing their jobs. The country is also very chauvinistic and topics involving gender and sex education are considered taboo topics. Therefore, children and teenagers hardly receive any gender and sex education as they grow up. This partially explains some of the problems being experienced in Nicaragua such as gender inequality and teenage pregnancies. These can be linked to male chauvinism.

Touch

Among the Nicaraguan people touch is accepted especially in informal encounters. Display of emotions, embracing and kissing is accepted. Friends greet each other with a hug or a kiss on the cheek without which they would feel offended. Men salute each other with a handshake or with a hug. Family members usually salute and show affection by giving each other a kiss on the right cheek. Such public display of affection is also common among members of different sex. Nevertheless, if there is a hint of unwanted touching between members of the opposite sex it is appropriate to keep distance. Health care providers are expected to address their patients in formal manner. They are expected to give the patients a formal greeting and look at them directly. They use the words Senor and Senora which are polite ways of referring to male and female adults respectively. Touching in form of a comforting pat is, however, an acceptable form of body language for health providers. Other acceptable forms of body language for health providers are sitting closer to the patient and leaning forward as they pay attention to the patient. In other formal situations, a handshake is acceptable.

Personal Spatial and Distancing Strategies

Nicaraguan people require less personal space than other cultures. Therefore in communication they position themselves closer to one another than other people. They highly value when the person they are communicating with is close to them. Lack of this can be offensive because it shows rejection or implies that the person the individual is communicating with is suffering from a serious illness. Therefore, when communicating it is important to lean forward or sit closer to one another. Even when communicating for the first time, Nicaraguans prefer to stand at less than an arms length apart. This distance may be shorter when it is good friends or family communicating. However, women show reservation when talking to unknown men by avoiding too much closeness. This may be interpreted as welcoming sexual advances.

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Eye Contact

When communicating with friends and persons within the same age group, Nicaraguan people maintain direct eye contact. However, this is avoided when speaking to people who are given respect. Youngsters will avoid eye contact when communicating with the elderly because they are expected to respect them. Nicaraguans also show respect to people of a different socioeconomic status and authority figures by avoiding eye contact when speaking to them. However, health providers who are given a high level of respect are expected to maintain eye contact with their patient even when using an interpreter to communicate.

Gestures and Facial Expressions

Nicaraguans use some gestures and facial expressions to express themselves. However, the gestures may be confusing to people who are new to the culture. For instance, Nicaraguans point to their mouth as a gesture for an object or a person. They also rub their index fingers when they want to pay for something and this may also be a confusing gesture to strangers. These gestures have different connotations in other cultures some of which are sexual. They use the lips to point in a certain direction. This is done by pouting the lips and raising the chin to point in the desired direction. Wagging of the finger is common in public transport when they want to know if you want a ride. A hand sweep with the palm facing down is used to signal someone to come over and a hand sweep with the palm facing up is used to signal someone to eat. Expressions such as nodding their heads and smiling are used to indicate lack of understanding. Public display of affection is acceptable in this culture. Emotional attachments are displayed in different ways such as giving each other a kiss on the cheek or a hug. Public display of affection is much more common in this culture than public display of anger and confrontation. They also use tonal variation to reflect certain emotions. For instance, when the speech gets loud it may indicate excitement or anger.

Greetings

In the Nicaraguan culture, when men are greeting other men a light handshake is the norm but sometimes they also hug. When women are greeting other women they smile and say Mucho gusto. Hugs and a kiss on the cheek are also a norm for women who are friends or family. They use a handshake if it is formal. When men are greeting women it is also a smile and Mucho gusto, they may also hug and kiss on the cheek if they are close family or friends. They also use a handshake if it is formal.

Temporal Relation

The Nicaraguan people are oriented in the present. They live by elastic time meaning that they focus more on relationships as opposed to appointments and schedules. Appointments and schedules do not carry as much weight in this culture as they do in the Western culture. This means that they may show up late to appointments such as doctors appointments, meetings or wedding invitations. They also expect people to give them undivided attention during an encounter. Punctuality is not as valued as in the Western society and they give their time freely. It is typical for meetings to start thirty minutes to one hour late.

The Impact of my Culture on my Nursing

My culture has impacted on how I handle my patients. I will always show respect to them by greeting them in a formal way and continuing to address them in the same way as I listen to them. In order to show that I am interested I shall always lean forward when listening to patients. I also pat my patients on the shoulder to comfort them and assure them that they are going to be alright.

Conclusion

A culturally competent nurse develops awareness on his culture, thoughts and environment without letting these have an undue impact on those for whom healthcare is provided. Cultural competence requires a nurse to adapt care in a manner consistent with the culture of his/her patient. This is a conscious process.