One of the most important aspects of good communication skills as a police officer is understanding body language. Communication is more than verbal; it includes facets such as a calm temperament, gestures, facial expressions, and the language being used.
As much as the suspect’s body language is important, so is the officer’s. While you should know what non-verbal cues to look for when detaining somebody, your body language should also convey the right message.
Here are some things about non-verbal communication that you should know being a police officer:
The Right Appearance:
The way you look when you put on your uniform represents your department and law enforcement officers everywhere. An unkempt appearance and a disheveled uniform make you look incompetent.
If you can’t keep your appearance in top shape, how can the public be confident in your ability to protect them?
The Right Attitude:
Your attitude may be linked more to psychology than communication, but it does convey a lot about you. Showing outward signs of exasperation and frustration toward your fellow law enforcement officers or the general public communicates that you don’t care about them.
It is also a sign of disrespect, and might prevent you from doing your job effectively and getting the cooperation of the people you are talking to.
The Right Gestures:
As a law enforcement officer, you will often deal with dangerous situations that require a delicate touch. If you use a lot of broad hand gestures, it might escalate the situation further. Similarly keeping your hands folded or in your pocket can communicate disinterest or a lack of openness to the person you are talking to.
If you aren’t careful, your hand gestures might create barriers in communication that can be very difficult to overcome.
That’s not to say you need to hug and shake hands with everyone you meet, but it’s important to be conscious of your gestures to ensure they are appropriate for the situation.
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