According to “the compact oxford reference dictionary“, grapevine communication means “the circulation of rumors & unofficial information”.
According to Ricky W. griffin, “It is an informal communication network among people in an organization”. In this article, you will know the characteristics and types of grapevine communication.
The turn grapevine is said to have originated in us. Civil war when telegraph lines were strung loosely between trees, and soldiers said the wires resembled a grapevine. Messages that were difficult to decipher were said to have come through the “grapevine”. Grapevine is entirely informal. There are no rules or regulations which govern it.
Common Characteristics of Grapevine Communication
According to Donald B. Simmons, the Grapevine has the following characteristics:
- It transmits information in every direction throughout the organization laterally and diagonally.
- Grapevine communication exists at all levels in the organization.
- Grapevine being unrestricted by formal policies and procedures, transmits information rapidly. The chain of command need not be followed.
- Once a message enters the Grapevine, it instantly moves to any point in the organization.
- Grapevine communication cannot be eliminated. Its existence has to be accepted as an integral part of an organization.
- Grapevine communication acquires a very hectic & active shape when some change occurs.
- Grapevine is based on people rather than a task.
- Grapevine generally occurs orally. It arises out of social interaction among people.
- Grapevine extends beyond the formal hierarchy system of an organization. It can occur off the job; workers at a party may pass on or receive information about the organization.
- Most of the information exchanged through grapevine communication is business related, & most of it (75% to 90%) is accurate.
- Grapevine is selective about the person who receives the information.
- Information travels very fast along the Grapevine. Grapevine is a valuable channel of communication even for enlightened companies.
Most Highlighted 4 Types of Grapevine Communication
Information travelling in a grapevine needs to follow an orderly path. Keith Davis has described four types of grapevine chains. They are:
1. Simple Strand Chain
In this chain, the communication flows instantly. It moves from top to bottom. E.g. A tells B, B to C, C to D, etc. The receiver of the message naturally transmits the message to the other person. It is a simple types of grapevine communication.
2. Gossip Chain
It is circular. The sender of information is at the centre & transmits the message to different people simultaneously. A gives messages to many persons B, C, D, E, F, G etc.
3. Probability Chain
In a probability network, the individual communicates randomly with others according to the law of probability. He passes on the information. Some individuals hear the information & pass it on, while others do not notice it.
4. Cluster Chain
In Cluster Chain, information is passed on to selected individuals. They again pass on to those close to them and enjoy their complete confidence. This pattern flow yields information to selected persons while others miss it completely.
How to use Grapevine Effectively in Communication?
Grapevine communication is an integral part of an organization. Its existence has to be accepted. It can also remain cause damage to the organization. But at the same time, it cannot be eliminated.
Therefore, management should use it effectively for the benefit of the organization in the following ways:
1. Identify the Key Communicators
Management can identify critical communicators. They can leak important information to crucial communicators or opinion leaders. This leader actively transmits information. They can check harmful rumors.
2. Use to Effectively for Introducing New Products
Grapevine communication can be an effective tool for introducing new products in the market. Through it, management can tell the benefit/utility of the new products in advance and create a favorable atmosphere for selling the product.
3. Get Feedback
Grapevine can be used to get proper feedback to formulate policies and other related matters.
4. Used as a Corrective Measure
Grape wise should be used as a corrective measure if there is some problem/strike/unrest in the company, it should be used as a corrective measure.
5. Used to Know the Mind of Employees
Management should use it to know what is in the mind of the employees. They should understand their feelings, analyze their response and formulate policies following the required situation.