Selection of Cultural Ancestry
Together with Rome, Greece is considered to be one of the cradles of civilization. The country has a rich cultural heritage that dates back to many centuries ago. Despite the fact that the country is now not where it was during the grand era, its inhabitants have maintained most mannerisms and cultural practices that existed in the past. Today, a good number of Greeks have emigrated into other parts of world and intermarried with people from other cultures. However, they have maintained some of the cultural practices that define them. The most important of these cultural aspects that have been maintained are on communication. No matter the level of interaction with other cultures, there are certain dos and donts when communicating with a Greek acquaintance. The current paper explores the Greek cultural patterns of communication with a view to establishing some positive aspects that may be applied to the nursing profession.
Willingness to Share Thoughts, Feelings, and Ideas
Self-disclosure refers to willingness of people to divulge information regarding themselves to their counterparts in an open and appropriate manner. Most ancient philosophers, including Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Glaucon, and many others have roots in Greece. The study of philosophy is deemed to have originated from this group of persons. In an attempt to conquer neighbors during those days, they taught them the Greek ways, including their philosophies. This short history provides an insight into the nature of the Greek people. If they were shy of sharing knowledge, ideas, feelings, and thought, some concepts such as democracy would have no place in the world today. Zhu, further notes that their descendants, i.e. modern Greeks, are known to be bold individuals who exhibit high levels of emotional maturity. They are willing to share stories, thoughts, and experiences with persons from other ethnic origins and are also curious to learn from other people about their culture. They unconsciously dominate conversations with what they think and will always have an opinion about the matter under discussion. If one offends them, they will let them know that this action is not appropriate and acceptable to them.
Although they are open and receptive to new people and new ideas, there are certain conversations that will not go down well with a Greek friend. Some things, which are okay in much of the Western world, are taboo in Greece and should be avoided. Homosexuality, i.e. gays and lesbians, is frowned upon by persons of this culture and conversations of that nature are offensive. Greeks have a rich cultural and historical heritage. They are proud of it and any conversation that is critical of it will not be taken lightly. Their culture is somehow intertwined with politics. Any political discussion that has a bearing on their cultural heritage should be avoided unless it is initiated by a local.
The Practice and Meaning of Touch in the Greek Culture
Given that Greeks are friendly persons, touch has a very significant place in their culture. They have a general preference to maintain personal contact. When meeting persons from other cultures, Greeks will not shy away from making personal contact. Whenever they meet, persons who are of Greek origin will shake hands and maintain direct eye contact. It does not matter whether it is a man or a woman, a Greek person will say ‘hi’ by shaking hands when they meet. The handshake must be firm and often appears to be sincere. The ease of touching goes beyond mere handshakes. Close acquaintances usually embrace and kiss when they meet. It should not be perceived negatively. A gentleman and a lady who have known each other for only a few days will hug each other when they meet. Touching is also okay during conversations. They do it unknowingly and it helps in maintaining relations.
This gesture may have some significance in nursing. Physical contact is commonly used to show sympathy. In a hospital set up, for instance, a visitor will embrace their patient to show concern. Unless it is restricted by a physician, Greeks will frequently embrace sick persons. Touching is also used to emphasize the message. When advising a patient, the medic touches the patient while giving instructions. This should not be misinterpreted as recklessness on their part as it is an acceptable and common practice. Thus, when handling a Greek patient, a nurse should not be afraid of making personal contact with them because they are unlikely to show discomfort as they are used to it.
Personal Spatial and Distancing Strategies and Eye Contact among the Greeks
Although the Greeks are extremely social people, they are quite mindful of personal space during conversations. Generally, when two Greeks are speaking, they are often quite close to each other. The distance between them is usually about an arm’s length. However, this distance increases or decreases depending on the nature of the relationship. It becomes smaller when communicating with close friends or relatives and it increases when talking to strangers. They often feel offended if a person backs away during conversations. To them, it paints the picture of a rude person. Thus, one of the strategies used to maintain a relatively close distance is by being friendly. Before delving into the subject of any conversation, pleasantries are usually exchanged for about five minutes. This puts both parties at ease and personal distance is maintained as a result. Hamilton highlights another strategy as the avoidance of too much eye contact. Staring straight into person’s eyes tends to intimidate them. Thus, while maintaining eye contact is encouraged, too much of it is avoided. Another device employed in maintaining close distance is physical contact. This especially takes place between lovers. Lovers usually hold each other’s hands or waist to sustain close distance between them.
Maintenance of eye contact is a pertinent subject in communication amongst the Greeks. As stated in the paragraph above, eye contact is encouraged among them although too much of it is not welcome as it might make the other person uncomfortable or even suspicious of their interlocutor’s motives. Eye contact is important for the Greeks for several reasons, including the fact that it shows politeness. It is also important as it exhibits attentiveness during a conversation. A person whose focus is on other things during the conversation simply shows disinterest in the subject, which is deemed to be rude. Besides, eye contact also shows that a person is not hostile.
Meaning of Gestures and Facial Expressions
The use of gestures and facial expressions among the Greek people is a common practice. In the Greek society, communication is never satisfactory without the use of the body language to emphasize oral communication. As mentioned earlier, one of the most popular nonverbal communication gestures that the Greeks like to use is eye contact when conversing with other people. According to the Greeks, communicating face-to-face with another person is better than writing an email or a letter. Thus, one will notice that they tend to position themselves closer to their partners and look straight into their eyes while conversing. According to this culture, eye contact signifies that both parties are attentive and keen on receiving the other person’s message. Therefore, when one fails to do so, a Greek would consider it as impolite and unfriendly.
The ‘OK’ sign is also a common gesture that the Greeks forbid people from using although other cultures accept it. This sign entails forming a circular symbol using the index finger and the thumb while other three fingers remain upright. In the Greek society, that symbol signifies obscenities and, hence, they consider it to be an insult. Similarly, it is unethical to use the ‘thumbs up’ sign while talking to a Greek. That sign symbolizes a sexual insult even though in many other societies it means good or okay.
The Greeks also display emotions in different ways. For instance, they tend to display affection towards their partners and friends in public. Some of the ways how they do this is by hugging, kissing, and even touching the other person. This practice is very popular although people of other cultural backgrounds might consider it to be offensive and immoral. They can also express their anger by directly stating that they are disappointed. They can only express such feelings using words of disapproval, but they hardly become violent or engage in physical attacks.
Impact of the Greek Culture on Nursing
With all the outlined positive traits concerning the Greek culture, it is easy for persons practicing this culture to become successful in the profession of nursing. The first bit is friendliness, openness, and willingness to share information or knowledge. A nurse is expected to be friendly when dealing with patients. Patients are more trustworthy of persons who are open and willing to interact with them. The culture, thus, helps in this respect. Another positive influence of the culture on the profession is the emphasis of touch and personal contact. This aspect goes to the root of the nursing profession. In the course of duty, a nurse has to touch their patient while performing certain medical procedures. This will, therefore, not appear to be a strenuous task when interacting with patients. Save for a few gestures such as the okay sign, most gestures used by the Greeks are acceptable. The profession is universal and this means that an individual following this culture can work in any environment, as well as interact with patients from different backgrounds.
Some taboos in the Greek culture might, however, act as a hindrance to performing core nursing duties. The question of a person’s sexual orientation may result in the development of attitudes that may hinder effective service delivery. Nevertheless, being an exposed individual who has interacted with numerous other cultures, it is important to understand that people have the right to live in whichever manner they want as long as they do not interfere with other people’s lives. Thus, most mannerisms of the Greek culture in communication are in tandem with the requirements of the nursing profession. Therefore, a Greek would not find it difficult to deal with most patients.
This paper has extensively discussed some of the critical aspects of communication among persons of the Greek ancestry. One notable thing is that the Greeks have always been willing to share their thoughts, feelings, and ideas as evident from their history. Despite the fact that they are generally friendly, there are certain areas considered to be taboos such as homosexuality. Besides, they are very proud of their cultural heritage and one is not welcome to indulge in subjects that expose deficiencies of the culture, including political topics. The discussion has also revealed that the Greeks generally do not shy away from touching people they feel close to. This aspect of their culture bodes well with the nursing profession. Persons of the Greek ancestry like to be close to persons they are conversing with and employ strategies such as being friendly, maintaining eye contact, and using touch to maintain closeness. The Greeks also employ a variety of gestures and facial expressions which are pretty standard in many cultures. However, the OK sign is a no-go zone when communicating with a Greek. The discussion has also revealed that owing to their cultural practices persons with these roots are likely to make excellent nurses.