What Is Grapevine Communication: Examples, Types & How To Control It

In this guide, you will learn everything about grapevine communication with examples, types, importance & much more. Implement our strategies on how managers and organizations can use and control grapevine communication in the workplace.

What is grapevine communication?

Informal communication is another commonly used term to define grapevine communication. A grapevine is an unstructured form of business communication. It does not follow the hierarchical chain of command in the organization and is not overseen by management.

It is multidirectional as it can move in the form of vertical communication – upward and downward communication, as well as horizontal communication and diagonal communication between employees and managers.

Grapevine communication is associated with informal communication channels as it mainly relies on face-to-face conversation, video conferences, text messages, memos, etc. 

The grapevine model of communication in a business assists in better quality networking and forming a stronger sense of unity and coordination in the workplace.

What are the characteristics and features of grapevine communication?

Grapevine channels of communication have the following characteristics and features:

  • Form of informal communication: A grapevine is a form of informal communication as it does not follow any prescribed rules or rules.
  • Rapid transmission of information: Messages in a grapevine model are speedily delivered without going through a chain of command.
  • Multidirectional flow: Grapevine in an organization flows vertically, horizontally, and diagonally between superiors and subordinates.
  • Connects people at any level: Individuals at any post in the organization can spontaneously connect and form friendships by the grapevine. 
  • No documentation: Grapevine communication is not monitored by the organization, hence there are no records or documented evidence of content. 

How many types of grapevine communication are there?

A grapevine is a dynamic form of communication that contains different patterns of informal communication in a network

There are four types of networks present in grapevine informal communication. They are:

1) Single-Strand Chain Pattern: Under a single-strand pattern of grapevine communication, person A communicates with person B, who relays information to person C and so on until the information has reached its desired number of recipients. 

Diagram-of-Single-Strand-Chain-Pattern
Single Strand Chain Pattern is a type of grapevine communication

 

2) Gossip Chain: In a gossip chain network, information is transmitted by one individual to multiple individuals at once. It is a wheel network where a prime communicator at the center shares information with surrounding listeners.

Diagram-of-gossip-chain-network
The gossip chain network also called the wheel network

 

3) Probability Chain: Probability is an unpredictable and random process of message delivery as the sender can deliver information to any person or group of people according to their choice or present situation. 

Diagram-of-Probability-Chain
Diagram of Probability Chain a grapevine type

 

4) Cluster Chain: In a cluster chain, information is transmitted in a selective manner. The source delivers the message to a selected few individuals who then pass it on to another set of selected persons.

Diagram-of-Cluster-Chain
Diagram of Cluster Chain a type of grapevine communication

Types of rumors present in grapevine communication

There are four main types of rumors. They are:

1) Wedge Driver Rumors: These rumors are unfriendly and aggressive and are spread purposely to damage reputation and goodwill.

2) Home Stretcher Rumors: Home stretcher rumors are speculative rumors which tend to anticipate final outcomes and announcements before they have even happened.

3) Wish Fulfillment Rumors: There are generally considered positive rumors which reveal the hopes and desires of employees to see positive changes in the company.

4) Bogey Rumor: These rumors create uneasiness in the workplace as they stem from the fears and anxieties of employees. 

Examples of grapevine communication

Example 1.1

The vice president of marketing may have developed a friendly relationship with the content marketing head. The VP of marketing might casually communicate with the content head about the merger of the company with an MNC.

The content head spreads this merger news with his department without following any formal announcement, and ultimately the news gets spread among various departments of the organization through the grapevine channels.

Example 2.1

The company hasn’t declared its ratio of the stock split, yet rumors have started about the stock split ratio of the company which will affect the price per share held by the shareholders.

Source for the example mentioned.

What is the impact of grapevine communication on an organization?

Grapevine communication has the following impact on an organization: 

  • As the grapevine is not a formal network of communication, it helps in relaying information at faster speeds between employees and managers. 
  • It helps in building cohesiveness among workers which leads to tasks being carried out with increased efficiency. 
  • It provides an arena for emotional support for the employees in an organization. 
  • Feedback received through grapevine communication is used by managers to implement better policies. 

Where does grapevine exist in the organization?

A grapevine is a highly flexible and dynamic mode of communication in an organization. The spontaneous nature of grapevine communication enables it to occur in multiple locations.

It first occurs in the morning when employees carpool to work together. The locations for grapevine keep varying throughout the work day based on common areas where two or more employees are present together.

Employees can interact in hallways, during meetings, in the cafeteria area during lunch breaks, etc. This form of communication can flow upward, downward, diagonally, and horizontally between members at different levels in the organization. 

Importance of grapevine communication in the workplace

Grapevine communication is essential to the workplace in the following ways:

  • Grapevine helps in breaking down communication barriers present in formal communication. Information can travel quickly between employees and managers using informal channels of communication.
  • Employees form strong bonds when they form friendships and communicate with one another without formal restrictions. This amplifies team spirit and work coordination.
  • Grapevine does not follow the organizational chain of command. It is multidirectional communication that can occur in any area between two or more individuals in the company.

How can managers use grapevine effectively? 

Grapevine communication is a beneficial tool to a manager in the following ways:

1) Managers can use grapevine communication to inform subordinates of work policies, business prospects, and instructions.

2) A good manager takes some time to address the personal concerns and problems of employees which creates a supportive and cordial workplace for employees.

3) Managers can acquire feedback from grapevine communication to monitor work and delegate tasks to employees.

Related Reading: What is feedback in communication

4) It can be used to boost employee morale and confidence levels by holding regular brainstorming sessions and group discussions.

5) A manager can utilize the grapevine to identify employees who are effective communicators in the workplace.

What are the challenges of grapevine communication?

A grapevine is a form of communication that is unmonitored by the management. Therefore, it can face the following challenges: 

  • Gossip and rumors: Individuals in the workplace can make use of grapevine communication to spread rumors, misinformation, and gossip. This is detrimental to an organization as gossip chain communication can hamper employee morale and give birth to unnecessary conflicts. 
  • Distortion of the message: Messages carried through the grapevine may carry incomplete and distorted information. This can be disastrous for a business as managers require complete and accurate information to make decisions.
  • Hampering of productivity: Grapevine may stall optimum productivity levels of employees as they may spend larger amounts of time talking to each other than focusing on work.
  • Lack of accountability: Information from grapevine communication is not documented and recorded officially. This makes it difficult to track down the source of a rumor and gossip chain.

How to control and manage grapevine communication?

Grapevine communication spikes during uncertain times and the management must step in to ensure everything is under control. This can be done in the following ways: 

  • Managers must use the formal communication systems present in the company to inform employees about important issues and policies. This establishes a clear source of information that can prevent rumors and speculation from spreading in the workspace. 
  • The management of an organization must present employees with full facts and accurate information about the issue at hand to minimize damage caused by grapevine gossip. When the workers are kept up to date with steady information from the upper levels of management, it avoids unnecessary confusion and misinterpretation of data.
  • The longer gossip and rumors linger, the worse it is. It is not a good practice for management to distort or soften a rumor to temporarily fix the problem. Managers must act promptly and find effective solutions to control the situation.

What are the positive effects of grapevine communication?

Grapevine communication reflects the following positive effects on an organization:

1) Grapevine helps employees develop efficient work coordination and better teamwork through personal bonding and building a strong network.

2) It helps managers in making good decisions for the business as grapevine communication is used to collect feedback from employees.

3) Grapevine helps in conveying information speedily. This helps in time management and saves the company a lot of expenditure.

Advantages of grapevine communication

Grapevine communication is advantageous to a company in the following ways:

  • Speedy delivery of message: Information is transmitted speedily between the members of an organization as it does not follow the prescribed chain of command.
  • Circumventing formal channels: Grapevine helps in bypassing formal channels of communication to save the company time and resources.
  • Promotes social relationships: Grapevine communication promotes a social climate in the workspace where employees talk and develop personal connections with each other.

Disadvantages of grapevine communication

The drawbacks of grapevine communication are listed as follows:

  • Misleading information: Grapevine can be used to spread misleading information, false stories, gossip, etc.
  • Unnecessary chitter-chatter: Employees may start spending more time talking and less time working which hampers productivity.
  • Hard to trace: Information communicated through the grapevine is not documented, therefore, it becomes difficult for management to trace the source of the message.

Check out our detailed guide on advantages and disadvantages Of grapevine communication

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1) What is the other name for grapevine communication?

Ans: Grapevine communication is also commonly known as informal communication. It relies on unstructured and casual channels of communication such as conversations, video calls, memos, etc.

Q2) Grapevine communication is informal or formal?

Ans: Grapevine communication is an informal form of communication as it does not follow the organization’s prescribed patterns and formalities.

Q3) What is not true about grapevine communication?

Ans: Grapevine communication does not use official and formal channels of communication as it is spontaneous and flexible.

Q4) Difference between grapevine and rumor?

Ans: A rumor is a piece of information that is inauthentic, lacking evidence, and full of speculation, whereas, the grapevine is a broader form of communication that involves a wide variety of channels such as memos, one on one conversations, group discussions, etc. 

Q5) Is grapevine communication helpful in the office?

Ans: Grapevine communication is beneficial to office spaces as it is speedy, and spontaneous and helps boost the morale and coordination of employees. Managers use the grapevine to acquire feedback to make effective business decisions and delegate tasks to subordinates. 

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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