Over the course of this paper effective communication will be broken down into different categories. The categories will consist of verbal and nonverbal communication, differences between listening and hearing in communication, formal and informal lines of communication, barriers in effective communication, and strategies that can be implemented to overcome the communication barriers. The categories will be broken down and reviewed throughout the paper and I will explain the differences between certain categories. The formal and informal communication category will be a comparison between the two and will be broken down even further. There are many barriers in communication and I will be explaining what there is that can be done to overcome those barriers.
Criminal Justice and effective communication go together just like any good combination in the corporate industry. Without proper communication in the criminal justice field there can be huge fallouts within the departments (University of Waterloo, 2000). Effective communication can be broken down into different categories in order to better understand exactly what is needed to have a great organization. First off there must be good verbal and nonverbal communication between departments in order for the criminal justice field to produce great work. Second the departments must be able to listen and hear what other departments are telling them.
There is a huge difference between listening and hearing a problem and each department must understand which one they are doing. Formal communication is huge in law enforcement because they must have structure and rules to follow to keep the department consistent. Informal communication tends to go unnoticed but is just as important as formal communication. The last category in effective communication is the barriers each department faces and the strategies that must be put in place in order to overcome those barriers.
When it comes to verbal communication there is a common misconception that is only speaking and face-to-face. This not true because listening is another big part of verbal communication and can be the difference when understanding what is really going on. When speaking to another person you must consider the listener and how they interpret what you are telling them (University of Waterloo, 2000). Not all people completely understand everything that is said right away and may need more explanation in order to get a full grasp on what is going on. If you consider your listener you may be able to get your point across in a timely matter and the listener will have a full understanding of what you are saying. For example; a police officer needs to tell another police officer on the new procedures when pulling over a suspect and approaching car.
The new procedure calls for all officers to approach from the passenger side and not completely to the suspect’s window. Most officers will understand the new procedures but some officers might need a visual aid or more explanation from the officer. If the officer explains in more detail on how the new procedures are done it could save the officers life in the long run. Other verbal communications may consist of the tone of voice, the speed in which you say something, or the way you word the sentence. Listening is the most important part of verbal communication because if you can effectively listen to another person and understand what they are saying you will have better effective communication. If you effectively listen you will show that you are paying attention and potentially help the suspect/officer expand on their story or idea which could lead into more communication.
Nonverbal communication is another form of communication but isn’t talked about the same way verbal communication is. Nonverbal communication comes in many different forms and can help an officer decipher whether or not a suspect is lying or telling the truth. Body language is one of the biggest ways an officer can either help a patron or question a suspect to see if they are lying. It happens every day in traffic stops specifically DUI’s because most suspects will lie when they are drunk. Officers can quickly determine if a suspect is drunk because of their body language and eye movement. The field sobriety test is the best way to determine if the suspect is drunk but body language may be the factor that gives away suspect’s lies.
In criminal justice there are formal and informal communication lines that must be followed in order to keep the continuity within the unit. Border patrol agents must follow a strict set of rules and regulations put forth by the government and leadership. This is knows as formal communication and is the backbone for any great criminal justice organization. Formal communication is defined as “a type of verbal presentation or document intended to share information and which conforms to established professional rules, standards, and processes.” (Rahman, Hirsch, Shah, I, J, S, 2007, September 1) Formal communication is used in most businesses but within border patrol the government has rules in place to keep the agents within the law. The border patrol agents use formal communication with their superiors to keep the professionalism in the unit. If the border patrol does not adhere to the rules and regulation but forth by the government they can get in serious trouble or be terminated from their position. When dealing with the Mexican border the agents have to stay within their boundaries or there may be serious repercussions.
Informal communication is the complete opposite and gives the border patrol a lot more freedom in the way they do business. Yes they must follow rules and regulations but informal communication may be referred to as the grapevine of communication. The communication is a lot more relaxed and there is not set agenda that must be followed. The downfall to informal communication is all of the topics covered might not be true which will lead to rumors or drama and isn’t highly encouraged in most criminal justice organizations. That is not to say that co-workers cannot talk freely about day to day events but if there are work related issues being talked about they must be done in a formal and professional manner.
Communication barriers in the criminal justice organizations are one of the biggest problems within the organization. There are so many different types of barriers that affect the organizations communication skills. Border patrol agents are trained to speak Spanish fluently in most regions but there can still be a language barrier. Slang just like in English is used in the Mexican culture which can make it hard for a border patrol agent to acknowledge what a suspect may be saying (Lee, Hatesohl, D, D,1993, October). Words like stop and lay down may be pretty universal but when it comes to trying to figure out where a suspect came from or who brought them there can still be a bit of a language barrier. One way to solve a problem like this is to have a partner who is either from Mexico or speaks the language of the land so he can have a conversation with the suspects.
Another barrier in communication focusing on your response before the speaker has completed what they were saying. It is very common to formulate a quick response to counter a speaker but you must first listen to what has been said. If you are already formulating a response you may miss a crucial part of the discussion and your response will steer the conversation off course (Grubb, Hemby, R, K, 2003). Information overload is another barrier in communication and happens a lot in criminal justice.
You may ask a question and the response contains so much information that you do not have time to process everything that is said. To avoid this problem you may ask the speaker to slow down or break down each subject in order to understand everything that has been said. The last barrier I will cover is criticizing the speaker and can be a big one in communication. If you are interviewing a potential suspect and continue to criticize everything that they say you may miss out on some crucial information. In order to avoid this situation simply listen to what is being said and hold the criticism until you have proof or a valid point (Grubb, Hemby, R, K, 2003).
In conclusion, effective communication is a very broad and informative topic that can’t be covered in one paper. I was only able to cover a small speck of the entire effective communication world. Verbal and nonverbal communication is very important to the criminal justice organization because without the two criminal justice would be nothing. Formal communication must be used to keep continuity while informal communication can be used to keep the morale up in the company.
You must listen to what people are saying and hear exactly what they said in order to process the request. If there are barriers in place the organization must find solutions in order to overcome the barriers and become a better organization. Effective communication is used worldwide and is a great way to keep continuity within a company, but if criminal justice organizations use effective communication they can become the most unstoppable force on the planet. Much like the criminal justice organizations of today are the greatest on the planet.
University of Waterloo. (2000). Centre of Teaching Excellence. Retrieved from http://cte.uwaterloo.ca/teaching_resources/tips/effective_communication_barriers_and_strategies.html Grubb, Hemby, R, K. (2003).
Effective communication for criminal justice professionals. . Belmont, CA 94002-: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning. Lee, Hatesohl, D, D. (1993, October).
Listening: our most used communication skill. Retrieved from http://extension.missouri.edu/publications/DisplayPub.aspx?P=CM150 Rahman, Hirsch, Shah, I, J, S. (2007, September 1).
Overcoming language barriers in the criminal justice system: can language assistance technology help? VERA Institute of Justice, Retrieved from http://WWW-language-barriers-criminal-justice-system-can-language-assistance-technology-help