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Barriers to Effective Communication

Autor:   •  September 23, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,116 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,901 Views

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Everyone uses some form of communication every day. It may be through e-mail, on the telephone, or face-to-face. Knowing when to communicate is as important as knowing what form of communication to use. For individuals in law enforcement good communication skills, both oral and written, are essential to their responsibilities. Although there is a significant difference between listening and hearing, both play a vital role in how the receiver of a message interprets the communication and if it can hold their interest long enough to understand it.

The three components of communication are verbal, nonverbal, and paraverbal. Verbal communication is the verbal exchange of information between two or more people and is the most common form of communication. Nonverbal communication is the exchange of information without the use of words. This communication can be a simple nod of the head, a smile, a hand gesture, or even a grimace. Hand gestures are a common form of nonverbal communication in law enforcement. Paraverbal communication is the tone or inflection in the voice that a message is conveyed with. For example, whispering to someone means that no one else should be privy to the information passed along. On the other, shouting could be perceived as anger or ensuring they are heard over a crowd. It depends on the circumstances surrounding the communication at a particular moment.

Hearing a spoken word is the first step in the communication process. The words hearing and listening do not mean the same thing (Wallace & Roberson, 2009). Hearing occurs when the ears pick up a sound and that sound is transmitted to the brain. Listening, however, is the deciphering of those sounds into words and requires the receiver of the message to be an active participant of the communication (Wallace & Roberson, 2009). Because the speed of thinking is faster than the speed of speaking, the receiver of the message has to be thinking of a response while they are listening in order the communication process to be effective.

Like any other organization, the criminal justice system has two channels of communication; formal and informal. Formal channels of communication are more commonly known as a chain of command. Formal communication within a police department has its advantages and disadvantages. The greatest advantage is it maintains formal orders and directives for the department. Formal communications allow uniformity among officers and ensure everyone within the department receives the same information. Formal communications have far more disadvantages than advantages. Formal communications are a time and personnel-consuming task. Internal memorandums travel up or down the chain of command and must be endorsed through the chain prior to releas to personnel. This form of communication impedes the free flow of information and can make it difficult to respond to immediate needs or changes with respect to certain situations.



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