Basic Human Communication
The goals of all types of security officer communication are the same, no matter what type of post an officer is working at. These goals are extremely important and must be achieved in order for officers to effectively communicate in their duties and for security companies to provide the level of protection required and expected by their customers. These goals include:
Clarity: The message receiver should be able to understand what was communicated with no content or information being lost in the message transmission.
Concision: The message should be short as to make communication quick.
Purpose: The message should be meaningful and relate to the guard's duties. The message should not be idle chitchat.
Timely Manner: The message should be communicated in the time frame in which the information can be acted on as necessary.
Accuracy: The message should be correct and not contain errors.
Factuality: The message should only contain facts, not assumptions.
Barriers to Effective Communications
Anything that prevents understanding of the message is a barrier to communication. Many physical and psychological barriers exist:
Culture, background, and bias: We allow our past experiences to change the meaning of the message. Our culture, background, and bias can be good as they allow us to use our past experiences to understand something new. It is when they change the meaning of the message that they interfere with the communication process.
Noise: Equipment or environmental noise impedes clear communication.
The sender and the receiver must both be able to concentrate on the
messages being sent to each other.
Ourselves: Focusing on ourselves, rather than the other person can lead
to confusion and conflict. The "Me Generation" must be tossed aside for
effective communication to occur. Some of the factors that cause this
are defensiveness (we feel someone is attacking us), superiority (we feel
we know more than the other), and ego (we feel we are the center of the activity).
Perception: If we feel the person is talking too fast, not fluently, does not articulate clearly, etc., we may dismiss the person. Also, our preconceived attitudes affect our ability to listen. We may listen uncritically to persons of high status and dismiss those of low status.
Message: Distractions happen when we focus on the facts rather than the idea being communicated. Our educational institutions reinforce this with tests and questions. Semantic distractions occur when a word is used differently than you prefer. For example, the word chairman instead of chairperson may cause you to focus on the word rather than the message.
Environmental: Bright lights, an attractive person, unusual sights, or any other stimulus provides a potential distraction.
Smothering: We take it for granted that the impulse to send useful information is automatic. Not true! Too often we believe that certain information has no value to others or they are already aware of the facts.
Stress: People do not see things the same way when under stress. What we see and believe at a given moment is influenced by our psychological frames of references - our beliefs, values, knowledge, experiences, and goals.
Listening is one of the most important aspects of effective communication. Successful listening means not just understanding the words or the information being communicated, but also understanding how the speaker feels about what they are communicating.
Hearing and listening are not the same thing. Hearing is the act of perceiving sound. It is involuntary and simply refers to the reception of aural stimuli. Listening is a selective activity which involves the reception and the interpretation of aural stimuli. It involves decoding the sound into meaning.
Effective listening can make the speaker feel heard and understood, which can help build a stronger, deeper connection between you. It can create an environment where everyone feels safe to express ideas, opinions, and feelings, or plan and problem solve in creative ways. Effective listening can also save time by helping clarify information, avoid conflicts and misunderstandings. These are very important benefits of effective listening; however, perhaps the benefit of effective listening that provides the greatest value is in how it can relieve negative emotions. When emotions are running high, if the speaker feels that they been truly heard, it can help to calm them down, relieve negative feelings, and allow for real understanding or problem solving to begin.
Listening is divided into two main categories: passive and active. Passive listening is little more that hearing. It occurs when the receiver of the message has little motivation to listen carefully, such as we often do when listening to music, television, or when being polite.
People speak at 100 to 175 words per minute (WPM), but they can listen intelligently at 600 to 800 WPM. Because only a part of our mind is paying attention, it is easy to go into mind drift, which is thinking about other things while listening to someone. The cure for this is active listening which involves listening with a purpose. It may be to gain information, obtain directions, understand others, solve problems, share interest, see how another person feels, show support, etc. It requires that the listener attends to the words and the feelings of the sender for understanding. It takes the same amount or more energy than speaking. It requires the receiver to hear the various messages, understand the meaning, and then verify the meaning by offering feedback. The following are a few traits of active listeners:
Spend more time listening than talking.
Do not finish the sentences of others.
Do not answer questions with questions.
Are aware of biases. We all have them. We need to control them.
Never daydreams or become preoccupied with their own thoughts when others talk.\
Let the other speakers talk. Do not dominate the conversations.
Plan responses after the others have finished speaking, NOT while they are speaking.
Provide feedback, but do not interrupt incessantly.
The purpose of feedback is to alter messages so the intention of the original communicator is understood by the second communicator. It includes verbal and nonverbal responses to another person's message.
Providing feedback is accomplished by paraphrasing the words of the sender. Restate the sender's feelings or ideas in your own words, rather than repeating their words. Your words should be saying, "This is what I understand your feelings to be, am I correct?" It not only includes verbal responses, but also nonverbal ones. Nodding your head or squeezing their hand to show agreement, dipping your eyebrows shows you don't quite understand the meaning of their last phrase, or sucking air in deeply and blowing it hard shows that you are also exasperated with the situation.
Carl Rogers listed five main categories of feedback. They are listed in the order in which they occur most frequently in daily conversations. Notice that we make judgments more often than we try to understand:
Evaluative: Making a judgment about the worth, goodness, or appropriateness of the other person's statement.
Interpretive: Paraphrasing - attempting to explain what the other person's statement means.
Supportive: Attempting to assist or bolster the other communicator.
Probing: Attempting to gain additional information, continue the discussion, or clarify a point.
Understanding: Attempting to discover completely what the other communicator means by their statements.
Imagine how much better daily communications would be if listeners tried to understand first, before they tried to evaluate what someone is saying.