8 Advantages and Disadvantages Of Grapevine Communication

In this blog, you will learn about the 8 crucial advantages and disadvantages of grapevine communication that are must to know. Along with the positive effects and challenges of grapevine communication.

What are the advantages of grapevine communication

There are many merits of grapevine communication, also known as informal communication. They are listed as follows:

1) Spontaneous and fast: In grapevine business communication, messages are spread rapidly as they are not required to follow formalities or pass through an official chain of command.

2) Improves social relationships: Grapevine communication in an organization helps in strengthening social bonds and building stronger networks within and outside the organization.   

3) Multidirectional communication: Grapevine communication can flow in any direction (upward, downward, horizontal, diagonal) between different individuals regardless of the official hierarchical chain of command.

Related Reading:

What is diagonal communication with examples? 

What is horizontal communication with examples? 

What is downward communication with examples and types?

4) Improves teamwork: It boosts unity among employees and helps in creating a work environment that is cordial and well-coordinated in carrying out tasks. 

5) Supplements for formal communication: Grapevine communication is beneficial as it fills in the gaps where formal communication is not as effective. Matters such as emotions, feelings, and personal issues of employees can only be discussed using informal communication.

6) Circumventing: Another advantageous use of grapevine communication is bypassing formal channels of communication as they can be time-consuming and cumbersome.

7) Catharsis: Grapevine communication is cathartic in nature as it lets employees relieve negative emotions through having conversations with each other. 

8) Boosts employee morale: Informal communication adds the human element of socializing in the workspace. This increases morale by giving employees the freedom to express their views and thoughts. 

What are the disadvantages of grapevine communication  

The key drawbacks of grapevine communication are highlighted in the following points:

1) Non-verifiable: It is difficult to track down the source of a message and verify its contents when it is communicated using an unofficial and informal channel of communication. 

2) Misleading: Grapevine communication can be detrimental to an organization as it can easily be misused to spread misleading information, half-truths, false stories, etc. 

3) No responsibility: It is difficult to trace the original source of a message in grapevine communication. This makes it harder to pinpoint the person who spread the misleading information. 

4) Gives rise to gossip: Grapevine communication may give birth to rumors and gossip in the workplace. This can also destroy the reputation of employees and managers. 

5) Distortion of the message: There is a higher possibility of a message getting distorted when transmitted using grapevine communication. This negatively affects the trustworthiness of informal communication channels.

6) Undermining authority: Grapevine communication can increase hostility towards managers and lead to employees not following orders effectively. 

7) May hamper productivity: It can have a negative impact on the productivity of employees as they may indulge more in informal conversation than work. 

8) Poor decisions: Information received through grapevine communication can lead to a manager making poor decisions based on incomplete data or wrong feedback

What are the positive effects of grapevine communication? 

An organization that allows grapevine communication observes the following positive effects:

  • Executives often rely on information collected through grapevine communication to make efficient business decisions and delegate work to capable workers.
  • Brainstorming sessions and group discussions help employee morale by encouraging members who are not in managerial positions to share their thoughts and ideas.
  • When human beings communicate with each other on an informal level, they form better bonds. This helps in increasing coordination and unity in the work environment.

What are the challenges of grapevine communication?

Grapevine communication may face the following setbacks:

  • Faces the risk of distortion of messages and spreading misinformation as data is conveyed informally through non-official channels of communication. 
  • Informal communication can breed gossip and rumors in the workspace which is detrimental to a healthy work environment.
  • It is difficult for an organization to track the source of misleading information as information communication is not documented officially. 

What are the factors affecting grapevine communication?

The factors affecting grapevine communication in an organization are highlighted as follows:

  • Fast mode of communication: A key characteristic of informal communication is speed. Unlike formal channels of communication which undergo a time-consuming process, informal communication is quick and spontaneous. 
  • Organizational climate: In the modern work culture, companies encourage their employees to communicate with each other and form friendships. This leads to increased grapevine communication in the workplace.
  • Good communicators: Grapevine communication may be subjected to heavy influence by individuals who are effective communicators. These individuals can lead discussions and influence co-workers.
  • Lack of formal management communication: In cases where communication from formal management in a company is unclear or lacking relevant information, employees may grow skeptical and rely more on grapevine communication to supplement formal communication.

What are the advantages of Informal communication?

Informal communication provides the following benefits to an organization: 

1) It is a flexible, dynamic, and spontaneous form of communication that does not follow the hierarchical chain of command in the organization.

2) Informal communication creates a friendly workspace as it helps employees in forming friendships and stronger bonds with their co-workers.

What are the disadvantages of Informal Communication?

The disadvantages of informal communication are as follows: 

1) Informal channels of communication are more likely to be used to spread misleading information, false stories, rumors, gossip, etc.

2) It is difficult for managers to monitor informal communication channels as they are not documented and recorded. This makes it difficult to track the original source of information. 

To know more check out our detailed guide on the benefits and limitations of informal communication.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: What is grapevine communication and its importance?

Ans: Grapevine communication relies on messages being spread using informal means of communication (conversations, text messages, etc) which are unstructured and not controlled by the management. It is beneficial to an organization as it is a multidirectional and speedy form of communication that improves morale, and builds strong networks and coordination among workers.

Q2) What kind of communication is grapevine?

Ans: Grapevine communication does not follow the organizational hierarchy and observes multidirectional flow (vertical, horizontal, and diagonal). Therefore, it falls under the umbrella of informal communication.

Q3) Grapevine communication is also known as?

Ans: Grapevine communication is also commonly referred to as informal communication. 

Q4) What are the features of grapevine communication?

Ans: Grapevine communication is a fast, informal, and flexible form of communication. It uses informal communication channels to relay messages between the sender and receiver. The contents of grapevine communication are not documented and monitored by the organization.

Aditya Soni

Aditya is the head of content at clearinfo and is responsible for improving the site's organic visibility. He is a certified SEO trainer and has worked with SaaS companies and startups to enhance their digital marketing presence. He is also an ahref fanboy. Click to connect with him on Twitter, and LinkedIn.  

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