Culture(s) / Who to speak to about your health problems and your privacy

A1 Breakthrough
In your country, in your culture, is health a topic of conversation? Is it common to ask about a person's health just after greeting him/her? If someone asks you how you are doing, how do you answer? If you don't feel well, do you say it to the people you are meeting in a public place?
In France, Belgium and Switzerland, it's common to respond positively to the question "Comment ça va?" (How are you?). If someone is with a person that they know, after the greetings, the person always says that he/she is doing well. If the person asking the question insists or mentions his/her goodwill or their close relationship, then the other person may respond: "I'm not doing well." If the person is with a close friend or a close family member, when things aren't going well, he/she answers: "I'm not doing well," or "not so good." A person only goes into detail about the problem with friends, family and relatives.
Generally, someone does not talk about his/her private life, but does sometimes confide in a close friend.
In Canada, where communication is generally more informal, the response to "How are you?" may be "not bad," or more often, "pretty good."
The most polite way to ask how someone is doing is "Comment allez-vous" ("How are you doing?"). This is used in formal situations and shows a certain degree of respect.
In Francophone culture, it is very rare to go to the doctor with someone; people prefer to be alone with the doctor to talk about personal problems.
It should also be noted that in general, conventional Western medicine is more concerned with the patient's physical condition than his/her moral condition. However, people are starting to use alternative medicine more and more, such as acupuncture, herbal medicine and homoeopathy.

Practical exercises

Culture(s): Who to speak to about your health problems and your privacy

4 exercises
Look • Listen • Intercultural (communication / initial contacts)