The concept of communication in security settings revolves around the idea of giving security personnel a safe and secure communication channel to communicate within the infrastructure and with people and equipment outside.
Communication in security involves improving verbal and nonverbal communication factors within security infrastructures to ensure that the message being conveyed from one point to another is done so properly, and has a positive influence on others. This is applicable for managerial as well as peer communication.
Interpersonal communication is key to creating a stable and relatively predictable security environment and therefore allow the management to make better decisions. This paper will go over the communication infrastructure of security management and how it can be improved.
Basics of Communication In Security Setting
As the security industry evolves, so has the need for good communication. However, it has become a lot more difficult today than in the past. This is because of the sheer number of communication methods and how each means has a different way to communicate. From texting to calling over the phone or the radio, email, instant messaging, faxing, social media, there are countless options available at all times. All of these means have made communication too mainstream, decreasing the importance of good communication skills.
The solution is to reintroduce the basics of verbal and nonverbal communication processes in the corporate environment, especially in security settings. With improved communication, security companies can boast several positive outcomes, such as:
● Improved employee morale
● Timely project completion
● Better outcomes
● Improved efficiency
● Better relationships, and more.
The most important element in improved communications in security settings is good listening, something that improves inter and intra-departmental relationships.
Types of Communication in Security Settings
There are four types of communications in any given security setting;
1. Non-verbal communication, which is used intentionally and unintentionally. This involves several key components, such as:
a. Facial Expressions. These are behavioral cues indicated during communication that may change the entire context of a given sentence. For example, a raised eyebrow while asking for more information or tilting your head when someone is answering your question.
b. Posture. This is how the listener positions him or herself during communication. Leaning back, crossing arms, or turning away may all send very different messages.
c. Gestures. Hand, arm, or shoulder movement during communication shows your interest or intent.
d. Physical touch. This is highly dependent on the culture, region, or gender of the persons involved. However, a lot of information can be conveyed via these actions. For example, a gentle tap on the arm may be encouraging or simply be for attention, while an overly strong handshake can be assertive.
e. Eye Contact. An inability to maintain eye contact may mean inattentiveness or dishonesty. However, it may also be a force of habit or external factors that may cause the lack of eye contact. Maintaining eye during a conversation portrays confidence, especially in security.
2. Verbal communication, which is when security guards communicate with more than just words. This also involves using other means to add context to verbal communication. Key components of non-verbal communication include, but aren’t limited to:
a. Emotions. Our emotions are one of the most important elements that come into play for verbal communication, as they can provide context to a given sentence. Emotions during a conversation aren’t always a bad thing but must be controlled nonetheless.
b. Pitch. Higher or lower pitch during a sentence can help highlight certain elements and impress upon their importance.
c. Tone. The tone used by security personnel conveys a lot of information about what the speaker is facing and therefore warrants a similar reaction.
d. Content. The content or the message itself is a crucial element of what the speaker is trying to convey. This includes the words we choose to use and how we structure our sentences. The more technical it is, the harder it will be to understand for general audiences.
3. Written communication has become a very important skill, especially after COVID-19, i.e., the prevalence of working from home. Security managers must stay in touch with other department heads and hold training sessions, which is done mostly over Skype, Zoom, or other digital mediums. Emails have also become more important now, hence instigating the need for written communication. Key components of written communication include:
c. Content (written content is naturally more formal).
4. Visual communication, one of the most used forms of communication in security settings. From CCTV footage to images sent over social media or internal communication networks, visual communication is key in today’s digital era. Visual communication is a relatively newer form of communication and therefore requires understanding or complex ideas, such as:
a. The usefulness of content and what each visual adds to the message
b. The clarity of visuals and their understandability
Barriers to Effective Communication
In today’s environment, especially with the new generation slowly becoming an integral part of our security infrastructure, there are several barriers to effective communication in a security setting. These include”
● Emotional barriers: An emotional speaker or listener means that the message may be misread or may send confusing and conflicting verbal or nonverbal signs.
● Stress: A stressful environment or an otherwise stressed employee may increase the risk of conflict.
● Lack of focus: Multitasking may look great in the security setting, but it may also mean that security guards won’t be able to communicate effectively. Distractions are everywhere in today’s world, making focus a significant barrier to effective communication.
● Inconsistencies: Verbal cues that say ‘yes’ but your body language suggesting otherwise and other inconsistencies in language may make listeners feel that the communication is based on dishonesty or other nefarious intent.
● Negative body language: This is when one listener gives off a negative vibe to the speaker via negative body language, and other listeners also catch said negativity. When this happens, the effectiveness of communication slowly deteriorates.
How Communication In The Security Workplace Can Be Improved
In order to improve communication within the security environment, it is important that we focus on what we say and what we understand. This means that we need to focus on two main things: listening and speaking clearly. While the latter is relatively easier to do, the same cannot be said about the former, especially in a security setting.
Effective communication in the security workplace is more about listening than talking. By listening well, personnel don’t just get to understand the information being communicated, but also their emotions and other non-verbal cues, hence ensuring better retention and improved overall performance.
As far as speaking is concerned, managers must make a point of offering engaged listening opportunities to security personnel. Other ways to improve communication include training staff to:
1. Focusing entirely on the speaker
2. Speak less and listen more
3. Focus on the emotional nuances and gestures of the speaker
4. Avoid interrupting and ask questions only when prompted
5. Avoid redirecting conversation(s) to address personal concerns
6. Show a keen interest in what’s being communicated
7. Avoid judgements and focus on the message
8. Focus on the data instead of the speaker
9. Provide feedback to address disconnects – but respectively
10. Paying attention to nonverbal signs
11. Setting aside individual differences
12. Adjusting non-verbal signage with respect to the context
13. Avoiding negative body language as a listener as well as a speaker