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Verbal Communication

Communication is deemed to have occurred when signals carrying information-bearing messages are transmitted from the sender to the receiver. It’s worth pointing out that human communication is noted for both its precision and flexibility, hence enabling humans to formulate an infinite number of novel messages. The most common form of communication is verbal communication where senders utter sounds which the receiver can understand. Non-verbal communication on the other hand involves simple hand gestures or the more advanced signed language.

Moreover, non-verbal communication can be incorporated with verbal communication if the sender wants to stress a particular point i. e. a long pause or a change in facial expression might add weight to words that have been spoken (Krauss, 1996, p 655). Police Situations Looking at the judicial system in general and its impact on society, verbal and nonverbal communication has come to define the standards by which this institution operates. The police are an integral part of any community and their effectiveness is guaranteed as long as they continue to maintain open communication lines with the community they serve.

Public announcements and press statements are commonly used by the police to sensitize the public on issues related to crime. Such ventures are aimed at encouraging the general public to work in tandem with the police. In the fight against domestic violence, several tools are used by law enforcement officials to highlight the plight of thousands of women afflicted by this vice. In the past, only a small number of women had the courage to stand infront of a camera to tell their harrowing tales.

The numbers of domestic violence cases being reported over the years have substantially increased and this can be attributed to the public relations efforts being encouraged by the police and the media. As the victims narrate their experiences, the act of verbal communication carries a lot more weight as compared to a scenario where a government official simply refers to statistical figures as he discusses the issue of domestic violence. Adding to this, the photos of battered victims brings forward the realities of domestic violence in our society.

Such ventures have benefited the police especially when it comes to collecting evidence of domestic violence. A majority of spouses at risk of domestic violence are nowadays fully aware of their rights and should the police be called to intervene, the victims understand the repercussions which might befall their spouse if they choose to file a complaint. The Courtroom In a courtroom setting, both the defense and prosecutors rely on expert witnesses to argue their respective cases. The way a jury interprets the verbal and non-verbal communication from an expert witness can make or break a case.

An expert witness must also win over the confidence of the judge since his testimony will be taken into account when passing judgment. “Through his manner, dress and paralanguage he must assert himself to the judge as being a competent expert” (Krauss, 1996, p 657). Besides the expert witness, anyone who testifies in court must display confidence without being overbearing and they must also be humble without appearing weak. Research into jury behavior has proven that the jury is able to collect non-verbal communication cues from the judge and use them to weigh the strength of a testimony.

A simple nod from a judge can cement any form of evidence presented in a courtroom while a slight frown or exasperation will discourage the jury. On the aspect of verbal communication, little things like a change in verbal tone by a lawyer or constantly emphasizing on a particular issue all have a direct effect on how a jury perceives a testimony. An important aspect of communication is the first impression one creates the moment they see another person. Through non-verbal communication, a jury can easily pass judgment on any witness even before he or she has starts describing the facts of the case.

A jury will probably not take you seriously if you show up in a court dressed in shabby attire or you appear to lack confidence when stating the facts. The way one dresses and simple hand gestures are all forms of non-verbal communication which either strengthen or discredit the verbal communication. On the issue of expert witnesses, jurors already have a preconceived notion of how they look like. They should be smartly dressed (preferably in a suit), neat, appear calm and professional.

Generally, jurors believe expert witnesses must be trained professional therefore it’s imperative that before an expert witness begins his or her testimony, the necessary academic credentials should be given. The expert witness should delve into the time he spent in college, professional courses he might have undertaken and list any works published. A jury is more likely to be persuaded by your testimony if you open with your credentials before delving into the facts of the case. When testifying in court, always remember to use simple and concise language since not everyone is an expert on the matter you are referring to.

Technical language will confuse the jury and the strength of your testimony will be further affected if the judge does not understand your testimony. “The tone of the voice is also very important; using pauses as opposed to voice inflection usually draws in the listeners’ attention” (Krauss, 1996, p 657). Having a clear voice is also as important and unless the listeners can clearly hear you, they might lose interest in what you are saying. Lastly, making eye contact with the listeners is very important as it denotes trustworthiness and competence. Correctional Facilities

In correctional facilities, a lot of inmates have complained about verbal harassment from fellow inmates. If one considers divisive issues like gangs and race which exist in the current prison system, verbal harassment amongst inmates has become an expected norm in a majority of correctional facilities across the country. The employees or prison officers are expected to be the litmus in this highly charged environment. While some correctional facilities boast of a rather ‘open’ line of communication between the officers and the inmates, this isn’t the case in a large number of prisons.

The sheer danger associated with the job discourages most prison officers from dropping the guard and openly socializing with the inmates. A study conducted by The Correctional Association of New York in June 2008 stated that an unusually high number of inmates reported frequent physical and verbal conflicts between the inmates and the staff. Such perceptions hindered communication between the staff and the inmates. A complex phenomenon which over the years has come to highlight the pitfalls of lack of communication in the prison system is suicide.

It is in fact the single most common cause of death in correctional facilities. The causes of suicide are quite complex but one factor that has been identified by researchers is poor communication channels between the victim and the prison staff. Unfortunately, some inmates engage in manipulative attempts of suicidal gestures which undermine their credibility. Thus, some prison officers are less inclined to tolerate suicidal thoughts especially if the inmate displays antisocial or sociopathic personalities.

“Incarcerated men with antisocial or sociopathic personalities may be more prone to manipulative attempts as they are likely to have difficulty adapting to the over-controlled, collective regimentation of prison life” (Krauss, 1996, p 659)). The reality is inmates who fall within this demographic are more prone to suicide and prison officers should be trained in deciphering the non-verbal communication displayed by such inmates. Some of the non-verbal communication traits they should look out for include: a withdrawn personality which is more than usual, a decrease in appetite, and repeated self mutilation.

Juvenile Facilities The young offenders being incarcerated in our juvenile facilities have all been exposed to some form of violent abuse either at school or in their homes. The recent spate of high school shootings by young students barely into their teens prompted the Secret Service to carry out a study in a bid to understand the psychology of these young offenders. School bullying was identified as one of the causative agents and almost all high school shooters had experienced some from of bullying in school.

Besides the physical form of bullying which includes pushing, kicking and hitting, the verbal version carried a similar psychological impact. Constant taunting, threats and intimidation pushed these offenders towards social exclusion and this is a trait they carry all the way to juvenile facilities. The inability to trust the staff at juvenile facilities is expected and most of the young offenders take time before they begin opening up to their carers. All forms of verbal communication between the staff and the young offenders should be extremely confidential in order to earn their trust.

The carers must be extremely careful when it comes to disclosing verbal or written communications relating to the offenders to court personnel or the media. The threat of suicides is also real in juvenile facilities. Continuous observation and reassessment of the detained youth is extremely important. It’s upto the staff to note a change in character or mood of the youth and they should also be keen enough to notice incidents of self mutilation. Maintaining constant verbal communication between the young offenders and the juvenile staff is paramount, even more than in the adult correctional facilities.

Moreover, establishing trust by proving confidentiality is usually the first step towards creating open communication lines. Conclusion Species survive depending on their ability to adapt to the surrounding environment. Adding to this, the ability to communicate effectively is a quality which dictates human social life regardless of the environment they are put in. In police situations, law enforcement officials have relied on public announcements to the press to highlight the issue of domestic violence.

To further stress this point, victims of domestic violence were relied upon to narrate their ordeals and the added element the physical scars of their abuse has given this societal vice the seriousness it deserves. In a courtroom setting, how an expert witness dresses and conducts himself speaks volumes even before he utters a single word. The first impression he creates to the jury goes a long way into determining how they perceive his verbal testimony. In correctional facilities, the poor communication lines between the inmates and prison staff has contributed to a high suicide rate.

The physical and verbal confrontations between the staff and inmates hindered communication channels and a large number of prison officers shy away from openly socializing with inmates due to the threat of physical violence. In juvenile facilities, most of the young offenders came from a violent environment where they did not trust the adults in their lives. Therefore establishing trust within juvenile facilities is usually the step which precedes verbal communication. References Krauss, R. M. , & Fussell, S. R. (1996). Social psychological models of interpersonal communication. New York: Guilford. Pp 655-701.

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