Informal Communication

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Communication in organisations can follow both formal channels; theses are designated by organisational structure and lines of command, and informal channels, known often as the grapevine. Formal communication generally follows the pathways that are outlined in an organisational structure chart. Informal on the other hand has no defined patterns of interaction and is somewhat random.

In addition to these formal and informal methods of communication, some scholars have argued that communication can occur in a shadow cast by an organisation. Metaphorically organisations are said to cast a shadow just as object and humans do.

In terms of organisational communication, the shadow side represents all those issues that are not discussed out in the light of the in the public forums of the organisation. The shadow side is said to represent the fears, anxieties and reactions as they respond to policy, decisions and change. In the shadow side hidden agendas can be established and people can promote personal goals. Behaviour in the shadow side is often calculated deceptive.

Consequently a considerable challenge for effective managerial communication is to find out and deal with what is happening in the shadow side of the organisation. Some suggestions have been made in addressing these disruptive practises and include, developing awareness and skill in managing the politics of the system and developing a communication culture in which there is freedom to communicate openly so that it discourages reliance on grapevines, rumours informal networks or shadow side communication tactics.

Although the negatives have been discussed, other research describes communication through the grapevine is 75-85 per cent business related and is 75 to 95 per cent accurate. With careful management and through the use of principles of supportive communication the grapevine can be used to build a culture that fosters trust between employees through the sharing of information allowing...
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