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Body language “She just wouldn’t talk to me anymore”

May 15, 2011


One day I was talking to my client Maria in the hospital I’m working as an interpreter and cross cultural consultant. She was revealing some problems with the nurse. “It’s terrible”, Maria confesses, “she for over four days just wouldn’t talk to me anymore. I just don’t understand why she is doing that, there is absolutely no reason at all for such a behaviour” Maria continues.

Knowing the personnel quite a while I was wondering about such behaviour as well. “What happened?” I asked her.

“Well”, Maria reveals “here is what happened. I was watching the nurse trying to calm a crying baby which just couldn’t find it’s sleep. I had an idea how to calm that baby and wanting to support her I spontanously shared it with her. She didn’t seem to understand. Contrary she stared to be annoyed by me. I then used some gestures to make myself better understood. Tipping my temple I indicated her ‘think about it’ and walked away.

Since then she not only does not talk to me but not even look at me. I feel she is completly over reacting, I only wanted to be of help”, finalizes Maria who obviously felt missunderstood and offended at the same time.

I thought for a moment. Taking into consideration
1st Maria and the nurse have no common language to talk to each other
2nd their both immense cultural differences: Maria originated from Greece, the nurse from Switzerland,
I turned to Maria and said. “Tipping your temple in Swiss culture is naturally being interpreted as ‘you are crazy'”. Whereas in Greece the gesture is commonly used to make others reflect about the topic of conversation.

“See why the nurse wouldn’t talk to you anymore?” Maria looked at me with wide open eyes, completely shocked. Some moments of reflections later she turned around with a big embarrassed smile. We both couldn’t but laugh for what seemed ages…

Thank you Maria for this lovely learning lesson 🙂 Bow. Ευχαριστώ πολύ.

Regina Reinhardt


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