Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication
Communication has been defined as the process involving two or more parties and which must entail the exchange of information. It is can thus be summed up as the process in which parties exchange information. Communication could assume verbal or non-verbal forms and either form comes with its own processes. However, both verbal and non-verbal forms involve the communication process whereby an idea is transmitted through a medium, the idea is received in the form of messages, the message has to be understood and feedback consequently obtained. The components associated with verbal communication include listening and hearing. In addition, the non-verbal communication comes with signs, gestures and mannerisms which ought to be interpreted in the right way to form something of the communication process. It is, therefore, essential to not only listen to the verbal processes but also see the gestures, signs and mannerisms that often accompany verbal delivery.
Listening and Hearing
While the difference between the two is subtle, the importance is seen in the result of the communication process. A communication would be fruitful only when listening occurs. It is critical to appreciate the fact that hearing may occur without listening. Hearing entails the physical process whereby the ear deciphers what the speaker is saying. This entails capturing the spoken word. However, listening goes down to understanding what is heard. The communication process does not stop at hearing. After hearing, the mind informs something of the heard material. What the mind conceives determines whether one is listening or not. For effective communication, it is critical that one hears the message and the mind processes the same in what is referred to as listening.
Like any other organizations, the communication channels in the criminal justice organizations can be divided into two broad groups. These are the formal and the informal channels. The formal channels are characterized by protocol and compliance to official use of language while the informal channels are devoid of protocol and may generally take any form of language. Some of the formal communication channels include the formal orders, directives and written commands issued by the higher ranking officers to the lower ranking officers. In addition, the formal channels that could emanate from the lower rank officers to the higher rank officers include official compliant letters, investigation and general reports, among others. On the other hand, the informal channel entails the grapevine. Grapevine refers to the disorderly and informal communication that in essence is offence gossip among members of the organization.
Barriers to effective communication in criminal justice organizations
The barriers to effective communication can be grouped into four main classes. These are emotional, physical, semantic and listening barriers. In criminal justice organizations, such barriers play out in the manner in which the officers interact externally with the public and internally among themselves. For proper communication to be achieved, it is imperative that these barriers be eliminated altogether and in the alternative mitigation measures be implemented. In the ensuing discussion, the paper shall discuss the barriers then proceed to examine some of the strategies to be implemented for the elimination of the said barriers.
Emotional barriers relate to the individual emotions and perception within the communication process. Police officers would naturally have diverse levels of self-esteem. The level of self-esteem would influence one’s interaction in the communication process. It becomes a barrier when one’s self-esteem is too low to enable constructive engagement in a communication. On the other hand, the physical barriers relate to the communication environment. This is an external factor. An environment could be hostile to the party in communication thereby affecting the nature of communication. Semantics relates to the use of words. This presents a barrier when parties in the communication misapply the words. Often, one may use one word while intending to say another. Finally, the lack of effective listening may occasion communication barriers. It is essential that parties in the communication go beyond merely hearing one another. In that context, listening actively is important. Listening must not be narrowly interpreted to mean only the spoken message; the listener should equally listen to the non-verbal communication and take in the message.
Strategies to be implemented to overcome communication barriers
While all the mentioned instances of communication barriers often manifest in criminal justice organizations, it is the strategies in place that enable the elimination of the same, in turn facilitating the journey towards the realization of effective communication. One strategy that has proved essential is the understanding of parties to the communication. Police officers are trained to consider all factors in the communication process. One needs to appreciate the situation in which the other party is engraved in. For instance, for victims reporting a case, it is critical that the police appreciate their state. Often, such victims would be in denial and or agony and may not be in the mood of communication. Another example demanding for understanding is when interacting with members from minority groups. One may be of low self-esteem primarily as a consequence of his belonging to a minority group. It is critical that police appreciate the same.
Moreover, police need to learn to apply the right words that match the meaning they intend to communicate. At times it is even necessary to adopt the local languages popular among the parties so as to facilitate effective communication. Finally, it has become mandatory for the police to listen. Listening as has been intimated in the paper demands more than merely hearing. It requires capturing the non-verbal cues and internalizing their effects as the communication proceeds.
O'Rourke, J. S. (2012). Management Communication. New York: Pearson Education.
Smollan, R., & Sayers , J. (2009). Organizational Culture, Organizational Change and Emotions: A Qualitative Study. Journal of Change Management.
Wallace , H., & Roberson, C. (2009). Written and Interpersonal Communication: Methods for Law Enforcement. New York: Prentice Hall Higher Education.