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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Communication Skills in Police force

Communication Skills in Police force
Communication Skills In Police Force?
By: Dr. Athiqul H. Laskar, Retired US Army Officer and Ex-NATO Commander, (Holland Sector)

Communication skills are an important confidence building tool for those in public services. They can prove to be source of effective conversation and conductive relationship building between people and police – a process that is a necessary part of our social responsibilities. The association between public and the Police could improve if the latter make efforts to enhance their interpersonal business accomplishments. The success of a police force as a role-model depends on their ability to communicate effectively with people as well as within the organization. The modern concept of communication is a proven way to get a message across quickly and enable an individual to participate effectively in every conversation. Communication lies at the core of any police organization because in a way, the police force is a service provider with people as its clientele. Therefore, the optimal functioning of a police organization is directly influenced by the relationship it shares with its subjects.
Communication and its significance:?
Communication is a crucial aspect of management as it allows administrative analyses and decisions to be conveyed as clear messages that motivate the police personnel and as well as common people to act and feel good about their individual roles or duties. There have been several surveys worldwide that analyzed factors contributing to the success of police officers at all levels of the hierarchy. Communication always topped the list of skills that were responsible for an officer’s success. Regardless of the validity of these surveys, , lack of communication skills labels an officer as being less competent, less attractive, and less qualified in the public eye.
Where police personnel are concerned, it is a common conception that an extroverted personality is the key to good communication. However, that may not be always be the case - an outgoing, life-of-the-party personality doesn’t necessarily translate into a sensitive one, a trait that forms the core of goodwill. Both introverts and extroverts need specific communication skills to function as successful police personnel and present a better image of the organization before the public. During my personal experience as an official trainer with the ASSAM POLICE, I conducted Victor Serebriakoff’s International Personality Test for introversion and extroversion on the last day of the soft-skill development course for my trainee group comprising of senior police officers. Surprisingly, I found that a majority of the trainee officers fell into the introverted category. Only 7% percent of the group fell into the extroverted category which included one female officer. That’s not to say, however, that either personality type cannot develop communication skills.
The police and the public do communicate up to an extent but only so long as our natural human instincts don’t set in. We get highly offended at the slightest provocation and begin to argue against the advice delivered by the police. We lose our temper when our advice is ignored in a discussion. Faced by verbal assault, the policemen too get tongue-tied and adopt a defensive stance regarding their service to the public. We then end up labeling them ‘arrogant’ and ‘ineffective’. Neither the public nor the police are ready to take a “no” for an answer. Finally, politicians have to step in to resolve the conflict. These hurdles can be easily overcome with good communication skills. When policemen find themselves in a volatile situation, they need to change the way they communicate and adopt specific techniques to calm the situation instead of further aggravating it. They need to shed the age-old trend of dictatorship that was introduced by the erstwhile Police Act of British Raj India in 1861 and adopt methods enlisted by the modern 2007 Police Act evolution...
That communication is the most important skill required for success in public service, is not an overstatement. After all, the most primary aspect of their job involves dealing with people. According to the Indian Police Act of 2007, the police should communicate in a friendly and understanding manner rather that exercising forceful means on the public. The police force must be able to get correct information quickly and effectively, build credibility with people on the basis of understanding, develop more intimate and interactive relations with the public, build loyalty in a supportive climate, and strengthen bonds within the police force and the people by building on each other’s expectations.
With the concept of communication, the police and people should function as a team and mutually facilitate the problem-solving and decision-making process in the state.
How can communication help the police to improve their performance?
Communication is important because the police must listen to people and understand them. They (police) should be proactive in order to delve deeper into matters of public concern, intervene in arguments of interest and understand the grievances of the public. This process will help them analyze what works best for the people as well as the police force...
In an interactive scenario between the people and the police, we may find how tone of voice affects both groups. Reactive and ambiguous words create confusion and lead to misunderstandings which in turn, sour the relationship between the two groups. This typical example of ‘miscommunication’ occurs very often across all sections of the police force as well as the public. However, it is nothing that effective communication cannot solve.
I have come across many such situations when I was conducting police training courses at Gawahti Commerce College as a guest faculty. In a classroom scenario, trainees were not aware of the appropriate responses to various hypothetical situations. There was a very apparent communication gap which would only worsen in an actual work-setting. The gap further widens when an individual is wrongfully accused or angered – the importance of communication cannot be undermined in such situations. By simply being aware of options and ways to express those options, one can help expand horizons for better communication within the police force. The police should respond flexibly and appropriately with different groups on different matters.
A few options are enlisted below:
Building PR: Police departments may identify the level and efficacy of their PR practices through self-assessment. Does the police recognize or acknowledge people with a perfunctory greeting such as “Nice day, isn’t it?”; “How are you doing this morning?” or “How are things?”
Approachability: Do the police personnel come across as casual, friendly people with whom people can talk openly or discuss upcoming events and facts of common interests? With awareness of the levels of intimacy, the police may develop a sense of what to say or not to say in spur-of-the moment situations.
Teamwork: Failure to communicate among people and the police is a major cause of frustration amongst the nation’s administrative authorities. The police and the people must unite on a common platform for the benefit of both parties by successfully communicating with each other. But ‘dirty politics’ always seems to come in the way and take a toll on the situation. Police as well the public (including victims of police abuse) will greatly benefit by exploring communication avenues to bring about the desired reform in the society and fight corruption. The police must let go of dictatorship tendencies in favor of negotiation and genuine understanding of the public’s problems. All human relations are dependent on communication. Therefore, personally and professionally, it is a matter of grave importance.
Posted by Dr. Athiqul H. Laskar at 11:54 AM
Labels: Communication Skills


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