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Effective Communication Essay

Effective communication is an important process in everyday life. Communication is a continuous process of exchanging verbal and non-verbal messages. Listening and hearing are two very different concepts. Hearing is the act of perceiving sound by the ear. While listening is something you consciously choose to do. Formal and informal channels of communication flow upward, downward and horizontal. Barriers to effective communication alter or distort the message being sent. Emotions and physical limitations greatly impact the messages being delivered or how the recipient receives the message.

Effective communication is an important aspect within the criminal justice field. Effective Communication Effective communication is an important process in everyday life. While communicating an individual gives nonverbal cues as well as verbal cues. Both are very important to the communicating process. Listening and hearing are two very different concepts. Listening constitutes and understanding of the information received. Information flows upward, downward and horizontally. Within the flow of communication there are formal and informal channels, especially in the criminal justice field.

Within the communication process there can be many barriers to inhibit the use of effective communication. The four main barriers to communication are emotional barriers, physical barriers, semantic barriers and ineffective listening. Overcoming these barriers is important to the criminal justice field. Verbal and Nonverbal Communication Communication is a continuous process of exchanging verbal and non-verbal messages. While communicating we must be aware of our verbal, nonverbal and para-verbal messages (Wallace, 2009). Verbal messages are words.

Nonverbal messages are the body language presented when the words are spoken. Para-verbal messages are the tone, pitch and pacing of the voice. It is important that all three correspond with one another. If you are saying yes and shaking your head no, that gives a confusing and inconsistent message to the recipient. In all of our communications we want to strive to send consistent verbal, para-verbal and nonverbal messages. When our messages are inconsistent, the recipient may become confused. Thus, the recipient may not understand the message completely and provide poor feedback to the sender.

Becoming an effective sender and recipient is important. Understanding the messages received and providing proper feedback is essential. Listening and Hearing Hearing is the act of perceiving sound by the ear. If you are not hearing-impaired, hearing simply happens. Listening, however, is something you consciously choose to do. Listening requires concentration so that your brain processes meaning from words and sentences. “The difference between the sense of hearing and the skill of listening is attention” (Horowitz, 2012) Listening is an essential part of the communication process.

If the receiver is not listening to the message being sent and only hearing it, the information is not being processed and proper feedback cannot be returned. Therefore, the sender does not know if the receiver understands the message being delivered. Formal and Informal Channels Communication flows downward, upward or horizontal (Wallace, 2009). The most common flow of communication is downward, from supervisors to subordinates. In the criminal justice system downward communication is classified into three categories; orders, procedures and personnel information.

Upward communication is information provided to supervisors from subordinates. It is also classified into three categories; performance communication, information and clarification. Horizontal communication is the flow of information between personnel at the same levels. It is also classified into three categories; coordination, social issues and problem solving. Formal and informal channels of communication flow upward, downward and horizontal. “The formal channels are the strict procedures defined by the policies of the organization. The informal channels consist of the undocumented sharing of information” (Sinclair, n. . ).

Formal channels of communication are strict rules of communication within the department, such as reports, evidence custody, policies and procedures. Informal channels of communication are the sharing of information between officers. “The most common informal channel of communication is the ‘grapevine’ (Sinclair, n. d. ). A good example of the downward flow of communication, using formal and informal channels, is a police department’s shift meeting. During the meeting the oncoming shift is briefed by the supervisor on developments and procedures. This is a mix of formal and informal communication.

The department’s SOPs and procedures are discussed and conversations between officers on issues are discussed. This flow of communication is very important to the department. Oncoming officers need to know what has happened prior to their shift in order to continue with the ongoing duties, for example BOLO’s on suspects, and other crimes happening in the area. Information on goings-on in the department’s area of operation is essential for each officer to do their job effectively. Information must flow freely throughout the criminal justice system; from the highest ranking person to the lowest.

Barriers to Effective Communication “Barriers are influencing factors which impede or breakdown the continuous communications loop. They block, distort or alter the information” (Wallace, 2009). The four main barriers to communication are emotional barriers, physical barriers, semantic barriers and ineffective listening (Wallace, 2009). Emotional barriers reside in either the sender or receiver of information. People base their receiving or transmitting of information off of their personal experiences or knowledge. Emotional barriers can stem from low self-esteem, depression and psychological problems.

Physical barriers are things in the environment that make the transfer of communication difficult. Physical barriers include malfunctioning equipment, outside noise and distance between the sender and receiver. Any obstacle that slows or impedes the free flow of information is a physical barrier (Wallace, 2009). Semantic barriers refer to the inability to agree on the meaning of certain terms, thus resulting in poor communication (Wallace, 2009). People understand messages differently. A simple vague statement can mean a plethora of things to different people.

Ineffective listening is the failure to hear or understand what the sender is transmitting (Wallace, 2009). Numerous reasons exist for ineffective listening. The receiver may be disinterested or bored with the topic. The topic may be too complex or too simple for the recipient. The recipient may also be consumed by personal problems, therefore unattached to the discussion. One of the main barriers those in the criminal justice field face is language. The US is a melting pot of cultures. Not everyone effectively speaks and understands the English language.

It is important for those working within the criminal justice field to understand this and work towards mending the barrier. Whether mending it means learning a second language or making sure there are interpreters on hand, it is important to understand and be understood. It is also very important to be an effective listener. Criminal justice employees should not let emotion become a barrier when communicating with each other or citizens of the public. Conclusion Effective communication is an important process in everyday life. While communicating an individual gives nonverbal cues as well as verbal cues.

Both are very important to the communicating process. Listening and hearing are two very different concepts. Listening constitutes and understanding of the information received. Information flows upward, downward and horizontally. Within the flow of communication there are formal and informal channels, especially in the criminal justice field. Within the communication process there can be many barriers to inhibit the use of effective communication. The four main barriers to communication are emotional barriers, physical barriers, semantic barriers and ineffective listening. Overcoming these barriers is important to the criminal justice field.


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