Key to boost Productivity among Security Officer : Understand Nonverbal Communication
Wei Han, Chew (B.Sc. Hons)
Chee Seng, Leow, PhD
The old saying goes “Action speaks louder than words” holds true. In a given situation, even if you do not communicate verbally, your body talks by revealing your thoughts. Body language is an essential part of human interaction which is a form of mental and physical ability of human non-verbal communication. It is crucial for every serving police or security officer to have a substantial knowledge of body language in order to analyze and interact with public, fellow officers, suspects, criminals, victims and peers.
A research carried out from University of Pennsylvania found that
- 55 percent of the impression people form of you is based on your postures , body movements and gestures.
- 38 percent was based on the tone of your voice (tempo and frequency).
- Only 7 percent was based on what you say.
The understanding of body language can be gathered from the way a person stands, sits, walks, the type of eyes contact and the body posture. Pistol is an important armor to officer but using body language during day-to-day encounter is sometimes the best piece of armor in defense. The body language is like a pistol – capable, ready, and powerful if necessary and applied accordingly.
So, when an officer confront a suspect, it is more important to observe, analyze and let his body do the talks before starting a conversation. A trained officer will able to understand the body language of suspect which tell them whether the suspect is innocent, lying, getting ready to run or setting up to attack the officer. Officer that understands and recognizes these body language clues not only helps them to fight crimes but also ensure their own safety.
Body Position & Physical appearance
It is crucial for an officer to project confidence, competence, authority and power through their body language as their safety is dependent on their ability to nonverbally establish authority and dominance when working with the public. For example, walk with lengthy, purposeful stride and moderate pace able to project the officer is calm and in control.
Besides, officers always want their back against a wall and never want to be surrounded in order to show authority and to ensure their safety. And when they stand, they are standing head high, chest out, back straight and wide feet which able to project them to be confidence and professional.
On the other hand, police officer project authority by the uniform they wear and the appearance they keep, this applies similar to security officer whereby authority and dominance can be established. When an officer keeps their uniform clean, polished and tidy is possible to communicate nonverbally to others that they are in a position of power. Also keeping physically fit contributes to an image that is authoritative and dominant. The ability to establish dominance and induce compliance in others through physical appearance contributes to officer safety.
A word is a word, but a word expressed upon the sincerity of the eyes will allow the words spoken to reach the minds of those they are spoken to.
One of the many ways where an officer can establish their authority when working with the public and especially during a stop is through direct eye contact with the individual.
High eye contact is able to convey dominance and greater amounts of control which both are the important essence in order to project high amount of authority by an officer. The less dominant a police officer presents themselves the less authority they are seen as having which can effect whether or not someone thinks they can take down the officer. The individual may think they have a chance at either harming the officer or fleeing the scene if the officer does not use high amounts of eye contact and close physical proximity.
Micro expression appear as short as 3/8 seconds. Real human emotion can be observed as short as 2 seconds. When you post a questions, try to observe any face changes so you would be able to capture the right answers. The inconsistency of facial expression and could be due to the cognitive load.
Another way in which a police officer can establish dominance and authority is through their tone and the way their voice sounds. The pitch of voice is closely associated with how dominant or submissive someone is viewed. A low pitch represents dominance and a higher pitch is considered submissive and feminine. Officers who use a low pitch or have naturally lower pitched voices, regardless if there are male or female, will better be able to establish their dominance when they having a conversation. Besides, volume of voice or amplitude is also found to be positively associated with projecting dominance. High levels of amplitude or loudness show more energy in the voice which lets the individual who has the authority. On the other hand, pace of speed is also important. A moderate pace of speech represent calm and steady while a faster pace of speech contributed to not only having authority but also as competent.
Officer’s safety is dependent on their ability to nonverbally establish authority and dominance when working with the public through their body language. Ways an officer can insure their safety is through direct eye contact, voice control, and a maintained physical appearance. Without training on these body language skills, an officer could compromise their life when dealing with the public.
By mastering nonverbal communication, a security officer, legal officer, police officer could increase their skills to understand and capture the unethical work they are doing. Unmasking their mask to trap the cunning fox within them.
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