Non Verbal Communication

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Non Verbal Communication|
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Drew M. Lubeck|
11/27/2012|
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C
ommunication consists of the following according to Merriam Webster, “: a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior.” (Communication, 2009) Criminal justice professionals can greatly benefit by improving their nonverbal communication recognition skills. In this field, it is essential to be able to accurately assess nonverbal communication in dealing with coworkers, and especially clients. While, "nonverbal communication is not an exact science" (Grubb, Hemby, 2003), there are several ways in which we can learn to read the body language of others and therefore better understand the message they are trying to send. Nonverbal communication has been referred to as “body language” in popular culture ever since the publication of Julius Fast’s book of the same name in 1970. However, researchers Mark Knapp and Judith Hall (1997, p. 5) have defined nonverbal communication as follows: “Nonverbal communication refers to communication effected by means other than words.” This definition does not exclude many forms of communication, but it implies that nonverbal communication is more than body language. While many of us probably visualize using body language as "talking with the hands" or gesturing, it is comprised of so much more than that. Nonverbal communication can be the way you move your eyes, the tone you speak with, the position of your arms and hands, and what you are actively doing while speaking. Nonverbal communication consists of, "The body (kinesics), the voice (paralanguage), objects (proxemics), and touch (haptics)." (Grubb, Hemby, 2003). Each form of nonverbal communication either singularly or concomitantly plays an important role in helping us to grasp the true meaning of a message, and what I will describe are effective ways to improve nonverbal communication. When another person is attempting to inform you of an incident it is important to listen fully, specifically you can listen for key words and phrases relating to the object or idea being discussed. How do you know your perception of what is being communicated is accurate? We can ascertain accuracy through a variety of means, but before we do that, we must take into account who is speaking. Such as if the person speaking is of a higher intelligence, their behaviors can be considered more reliable, based on the simple fact that it can be assumed that someone of higher intelligence can better understand what is being asked of them. Secondly, we must determine if the person we are in communication with is emotionally stable or suffers from a mental illness. Emotional instability can greatly interfere with nonverbal behaviors. Thirdly, the nonverbal conduct of children or those who are under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol is definitely untrustworthy and cannot be considered for accuracy. Children have still underdeveloped social skills while those under the influence of drugs/alcohol are temporarily mentally and physically impaired. Cultural differences play a role, too. Body language and the interpretation of body language and nonverbal communication vary among cultures, so this should be kept in mind when assessing nonverbal cues. In determining whether your perception of what is being communicated is accurate, you should first study a person's body movements and surprisingly, body type. "Body size and shape have long been associated with certain stereotypical characteristics or traits. These body types identified through previous research are endomorphs, ectomorphs, and mesomorphs." (Grubb, Hemby, 2003). Short, round endomorphs are thought to be warm and sociable, while conversely, tall and thin ectomorphs are usually cautious and shy. Mesomorphs are muscular and are properly proportioned and are cheerful, but may be hot-tempered at times. While always categorizing a person's body...
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