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Barriers to Effective Communication Persuasive

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Communication is part of our everyday lives. Without communication understanding one another may be challenging. To be able to comprehend what communication is one must understand the process of communication and the components of it. In this paper I will discuss the difference between hearing and listening along with the different channels within the criminal justice system. Barriers of communications and the strategies that may be implemented to overcome these barriers will also be explored.

Communication is a continuous process that involves the exchange of both verbal and nonverbal messages among two or more people. It consists of five key elements; sender, medium, message, receiver, and feedback. The sender is the person who initiates communication whether it is verbal or nonverbal. A medium is the means by which the message or information is sent or transmitted to the receiver. The message is the idea the sender wants to convey. This may be in the form of a memo or meeting among all parties. It is important that the message is clear, concise, and easily understood by the receiver. The receiver is the person or persons to whom the message is intended for or who will receive the message. Feedback is the receivers’ response to the sender of the message. This is a main component of communication and helps the sender confirm that the message was received and understood by the receiver.

Channels of communication deal with the flow of information from the sender to the recipient. There are two communication channels used in the criminal justice system; formal and informal. (Wallace and Roberson, 2009, ch.2 p-18) Formal communication is organized and managed information. In any police organization, a formal channel is the traditional method used and usually follows a chain of command. This may come in the form of formal orders, directives, and written memorandums. Formal communication ensures that all officers receive the same information. It also provides the proper documentation needed should anything need to be justified in court. While formal channels have many advantages, there are also many disadvantages that come with it. Formal channels can be very time consuming and restrict the flow of communication.

Informal channels are unofficial routes of communication within a police organization and are often referred to as gossip or as the “grapevine”. Most formal channels flow from the top of the hierarchy to the bottom, while informal channels provide the necessary link in between. In most cases, informal channels are used as the most common interaction between patrol officers and detectives. There may be something that the first responding officer seen that the detectives missed and they communicate through an informal channel.

Influencing factors that block or alter communication are defined as communication barriers (Wallace and Roberson, 2009, ch.4 p-48). There are four basic barriers that affect communication within the criminal justice system; emotional, physical, semantics, and ineffective listening. These barriers may affect both the sender and the receiver, and cause communication to fail. An emotional barrier may include feelings of rejection or embarrassment when asked for their input. Low self esteem is one of the biggest emotional barriers in any form of communication. If one has low self esteem it may be difficult to express their opinion for fear of rejection by fellow officers. A physical barrier is anything in the environment that could cause communication to fail.

Faulty equipment, the rigid chain of command, and even the distance between officers can be physical barriers. Anything that can disrupt the flow of communication is considered a physical barrier. Semantics is the study of the meaning of words. More figuratively speaking, the inability to agree on the meaning of words, phrases, or signs are semantics. One officer’s interpretation of what statement means may not be that of other officers. Ineffective listening is the final barrier to effective communication. This means a failure to receive, understand, and interpret the message that is being transmitted. Many factors such as personal problems and loss of interest can contribute to ineffective listening.

The key to overcoming emotional barriers, semantics, and ineffective listening is to provide feedback, ask questions, and make sure the topic or subject is appealing to the entire audience. Being able to keep the receivers attention, so interest is not easily lost, helps tremendously with those that do not listen effectively. A way to overcome physical barriers is to make sure all equipment is up to date and working properly. Keeping the distance between officers to a minimum while performing searches can assist in overcoming physical barriers.

Many may think that there is no difference between listening and hearing, but there actually is (Wallace and Roberson, 2009, ch.4 p-51). One can actually listen without hearing. Hearing is the first step in communication and requires your ears to pick up sound waves and then transmit them to the brain. The next step is listening and in order to be successful it must be an active process. Listening requires one to actively listen and concentrate on the message being transmitted in order to process and understand it prior to responding. Good listening skills require one to concentrate, interpret, and evaluate the message in order to respond effectively. It requires one to stop thinking about anything else and focus on what is being said.

In conclusion, all of the components discussed are essential to understand and learn to become an effective communicator. All of this is not only important in the criminal justice system, but within our everyday lives. We communicate with each other every day in some way or another by words, actions, or expressions. Communication is how we convey what we feel and without it we would basically be handicap.

Wallace, H., & Roberson, C. (2009). Written and interpersonal communication: Methods for law enforcement (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Bryan Golden (2009) There is a difference between listening, hearing http://www.presspublications.com/opinionscolumns/146-dare-to-live-without-limits/2598-there-is-a-difference-between-listening-hearing

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