The Hunger Games Guide to Workplace Communications

by Ankit Kumar
4 months ago

The informal, unofficial and personal channel of communication created among the colleagues in the large organization is called grapevine. The purpose of grapevine is to Accurate and complete communication among the employees of a business. It is vital to keep operations running smoothly. Much dissemination of information is done formally through memos, etc. It can create a corporate identity and build teamwork.

Communication can be Internal, External, Upward, Downward, Formal, Informal, Lateral, Interactive, Mass or Grapevine.

Internal Communication: Internal communication serves to inform, instruct, educate, develop, motivate, persuade, entertain, direct, control and caution people in the organization. The most common scenario for the internal communication is, when a personal letter is written at an official address, besides writing the name of the addressee, the envelope is superscribed ‘Private’ or ‘Confidential’ to convey the nature of communication. Knowledge, skills, goal orientation, sharing of corporate concerns, review and monitoring, performance appraisal, counselling and training are among the issues that internal communication addresses.

External Communication: External communication flows outward as it addresses people outside the organization, like the prospective customers, competitors, public, press, media and the government. The example of external communication can be Letters, notices, brochures, demonstrations, telephone calls, business meetings, press releases, press conferences, audio-visual presentations, publicity films product launch events and advertisements. It is very necessary that adequate care is taken in making it clear, intelligible and appealing as the external targeted stakeholders through such communication, quite often form an image or impression.

Upward Communication:  Upward communication moves from bottom to top levels in the hierarchy. The common examples are the communication is one that moves ahead from employees to supervisors, supervisors to managers, managers to executives, regional manager to general manager, branches to regional offices, regional offices to zonal offices, zonal offices to head office and so on. Employee suggestions, market reports, performance reports, feedback on new products and requests for facilities or instructions are all examples of upward communication in the organizational context.

Downward Communication: Downward communication moves from the top to the bottom. It travels through senior executives to junior level functionaries, from the controlling office to the branch, from the head of the division to the head of the unit. The common examples of Download communication are corporate goals, business priorities, motivational letters, work-related instructions, newsletters and letters from the CEO/General Managers.

Upward & Downward (Two Way) Communication: There may be some communication, which would move both upward and downward. A typical example of this is performance budgeting, which is a two-way process. It is a top to bottom as well as bottom-to-top exercise.

Formal Communication: Formal communication generally follows a well-defined hierarchical pattern and periodicity. Memos, circulars, instructions, guidelines, clarifications, agreements and reports are some of the channels that facilitate the flow of formal communication in business organizations. Common forums of a formal communication can be Staff meetings, union-management meetings, branch managers’ conferences, periodical sales review meetings and customer meet. The formal structure of communication is a must in large organizations.

Informal Communication:  Informal communication works well in smaller, loosely knit organizations. It is used more often in situations where there are no rigid hierarchical tiers. Informality helps sustain goal orientation in small well-knit units. This type of communication takes place in an unstructured manner and outside the formal forums such as through chats, conversations, informal talks and the like.

Lateral Communication: Lateral communication is at equal or at peer level communication. It is neither upward nor downward; rather it proceeds in a horizontal manner. The communication takes place orally or in writing, from one branch head to the other, from one division head to the other, from one group head to the other. There is not much difference in terms of the hierarchical levels or positions of the sender and the receiver.

Interactive Communication:  Interactive communication is most appropriate when the message or subject is to be presented at length, e.g., in practical sessions, case study discussions and strategy formulation. Interactive communication is essentially a two-way process. It takes place through meetings, conferences, teleconferencing, multimedia presentations, group discussions and other such active two-way exchanges. When many speakers are involved, there may be a need for a moderator who will facilitate the effective flow of communication from different speakers.

Mass Communication: Mass communication is distinctive in view of its scale. It has developed into a specialized area of study. Each of these areas or channels calls for distinct skills. Essentially, it addresses a large mass of people. Public speaking, newspapers, magazines and journals, radio, television, dotcoms, etc. are channels of mass communication. Main branches of study relating to mass communication are public relations, advertising and publicity, journalism and digital media.

Grapevine Communication: Grapevine is informal communication that prevails in organizations and businesses. The prevalence of this type of communication in an organization has to be recognized and accepted. A skilled communicator can derive benefits from such a communication as well. It may not always be possible to control the grapevine, but, nevertheless, an able communicator knows how to influence it.

The drawback of Grapevine Communication:

  1. It providing partial information.
  2. It is not reliable.
  3. It has no documentary evidence.
  4. It tends to damage discipline.
  5. It contradicts formal information.
  6. Distort meaning: Often the meaning and the subject matter of the information is distorted in this system.
  7. Spread rumour: In this system, the rumour is spread rapidly. The original information may be transformed into the wrong information.
  8. Misunderstanding: Under this system, generally, the employees do not obey the formal authorization system. So it creates
  9. the opportunity to develop misunderstanding.
  10. Maintaining secrecy is impossible: In an informal communication system, maximum communication is made by open
  11. discussion. So it is impossible to maintain the secrecy of the information.
  12. Difficulty in controlling: Under the informal communication system no established rules or policy is obeyed. So it is very
  13. much difficult to control the information.
  14. Non-cooperation: Informal communication system sometimes develops the adversary culture among the employees. So
  15. they are not cooperative with each other and as a result, their team efficiency is often compromised.


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