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Importance of grapevine?

Grapevine is an informal channel of business communication. It is called so

because it stretches throughout the organization in all directions irrespective
of the authority levels. Man as we know is a social animal. Despite existence
of formal channels in an organization, the informal channels tend to develop
when he interacts with other people in organization. It exists more at lower
levels of organization.
Grapevine generally develops due to various reasons. One of them is that
when an organization is facing recession, the employees sense uncertainty.
Also, at times employees do not have self-confidence due to which they form
unions. Sometimes the managers show preferential treatment and favour
some employees giving a segregated feeling to other employees. Thus, when
employees sense a need to exchange their views, they go for grapevine
network as they cannot use the formal channel of communication in that
case. Generally during breaks in cafeteria,the subordinates talk about their
superior's attitude and behaviour and exchange views with their peers. They
discuss rumours about promotion and transfer of other employees. Thus,
grapevine spreads like fire and it is not easy to trace the cause of such
communication at times. Examples of Grapevine Network of Communication

Suppose the profit amount of a company is known. Rumour is spread

that this much profit is there and on that basis bonus is declared.


CEO may be in relation to the Production Manager. They may have

friendly relations with each other.

Pros and Cons of Grapevine Communication

Advantages of Grapevine Communication

Grapevine channels carry information rapidly. As soon as an employee

gets to know some confidential information, he becomes inquisitive and
passes the details then to his closest friend who in turn passes it to other.
Thus, it spreads hastily.


The managers get to know the reactions of their subordinates on their

policies. Thus, the feedback obtained is quick compared to formal channel
of communication.


The grapevine creates a sense of unity among the employees who

share and discuss their views with each other. Thus, grapevine helps in
developing group cohesiveness.


The grapevine serves as an emotional supportive value.


The grapevine is a supplement in those cases where formal

communication does not work.

Disadvantages of Grapevine Communication


The grapevine carries partial information at times as it is more based

on rumours. Thus, it does not clearly depicts the complete state of affairs.


The grapevine is not trustworthy always as it does not follows official

path of communication and is spread more by gossips and unconfirmed


The productivity of employees may be hampered as they spend more

time talking rather than working.


The grapevine leads to making hostility against the executives.


The grapevine may hamper the goodwill of the organization as it may

carry false negative information about the high level people of the

A smart manager should take care of all the disadvantages of the grapevine
and try to minimize them. At the same time, he should make best possible
use of advantages of grapevine.


Small Business >

Business Communications & Etiquette >
Importance of Business Communication

The Importance of the Grapevine in Internal

Business Communications
by Kristie Lorette, Demand Media

How word of mouth communication works in a company.

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Within a business, there are two types of internal communication, formal and informal.
Formal communication spreads through newsletters, manuals, emails, memos, staff
meetings, conferences and official notices. Informal communication occurs through the
grapevine, which is generally word-of-mouth communication. Internal business
communication that moves through the grapevine spreads throughout the organization in a
random, undocumented manner and is open to constant change with individual
interpretation. Although unstable, the grapevine carries some importance to internal
business communication.
The grapevine is useful as a supplement to formal channels of communication. It often
travels more quickly than other channels and is usually more direct. The grapevine is
present within all levels of staff. It exists because of a natural desire to know things and
brings a sense of belonging to employees and managerial staff alike. It can create corporate
identity and build teamwork.
Although the grapevine can wreak havoc with misinformation, it can also be beneficial. In
most cases, grapevine information holds at least a kernel of truth. Information from upper
management that flows through the grapevine to lower-level employees can allow them to

see, and possibly relate to, the struggles that management is facing. When employees have
a sense (even if it is not entirely accurate) of these challenges, they can rise up and make
suggestions or work to improve a situation of which they might not otherwise have been
aware. Also, if trouble is on the horizon (according to the grapevine), it can give employees a
chance to make plans and temper their reactions when the news is formally communicated
to them.
Related Reading: Importance of External Business Communication
The grapevine consists basically of rumors and gossip and travels from person to person
during breaks, lunch and in after-work gatherings. It can bypass security because of its
ability to cross over organizational lines. The grapevine functions best in situations where
formal communication is poor, yet it is a natural part of human behavior. This information
channel increases in times of stress or uncertainty, and from the lack of formal news coming
directly from the upper management of the company.
The grapevine allows feelings to be expressed instead of bottled up. People need to talk
about what is affecting them, and the grapevine allows this kind of expression. Employees
and staff can communicate important topics using their own language, instead of the
technical jargon used in formal communication channels. If managers can tap into the
grapevine, they can learn a substantial amount about the issues and problems of their
employees. It is a solid indicator of health, morale and productivity in the company.
A large percentage of communication that travels the grapevine is true; however, it is
difficult for one to discern fact from fiction through the grapevine. Management must
effectively monitor the grapevine and jump in to correct inaccuracies or falsehoods. The
grapevine is unstable and unreliable; it can fuel anxiety, conflict and misunderstanding in
small or large group situations.

9 important Features of Grapevine as explained Keith


Keith Davis explains the following features of Grapevine:

1. Although grapevine information tends to be sent orally, it may be written. Handwritten or typed
notes sometimes are used, but in the modem electronic office these messages typically are flashed on
computer screens, creating the new era of the electronic grapevine. This system can spread the
transmission of more units of information within a very short time.

It won't replace the face-to-face grapevine however, for two reasons. For one, not every employee has
access to a network of personal computers at work. The other reason is that many workers enjoy the
more personal social interact gained through the traditional grapevine.
2. Since the grapevine arises from social interaction, it is as fickle, dynamic, and varied as people are.
It is the expression of their natural motivation to communicate. It is the exercise of their freedom of
speech and is a natural, normal activity. In fact, only employees who are totally disinterested in their
work do not engage in shoptalk about it.
3. In a sense, the grapevine is a human birthright, because whenever people congregate into groups,
the grapevine is sure to develop. It may use smoke signals, jungle tom-toms, taps on the prison wall,
ordinary conversation, or some other method, but it will always be there. Organisations cannot 'fire'
the grapevine because they did not hire it. It is simply there.
4. People tend to think the grapevine is less accurate than it is because its errors are more dramatic
and consequently more impressed on memory than its day-by- day routine accuracy. Moreover, one
inaccurate part may make a whole story inaccurate.
5. Grapevine information usually is incomplete, so it may be seriously misinterpreted even though
the details it does carry are accurate. That is even though the grapevine tends to carry the truth, it
rarely carriers the whole truth. These cumulative inadequacies of the grapevine mean that in total it
tends to produce more misunderstanding than its small percentage of wrong information suggests.
6. The grapevine gives managers much feedback about employees and their jobs. It also helps
interpret management to the workers. It especially helps translate a management's formal orders
into employee language, in this way helping to make up for management failures in communication.
7. In several instances the grapevine carriers information that the formal system does not wish to
carry and purposely leaves unsaid.
8. Another grapevine feature is its pace. Being flexible and personal it spreads information faster
then most management communication systems.
9. Another grapevine feature is its unusual ability to penetrate even the tightest company security
screen because of its capacity to out across organizational lines and deal directly with the people who
know. The grapevine is well known as a source of confidential information.

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