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This paper explores and defines the notion of communication as an act, or process of sharing information, thoughts, ideas, and feelings between individuals. The most prominent functions of communication described. Paper illustrates the significance of informal communication and points out the concept of the “grapevine.” It is the aim of the paper to explain the meaning of grapevine and contribute personal feedback on this matter. Dealing effectively with communication and managing to feel free while communicating is an important matter that is a part of a manager’s job. In order to achieve any professional aims, one should understand the power of communication upon people (persuasion, decision-making) and its influence on culture, organizations and each employee particularly. Communication is a complex phenomenon intrinsic to the human society. That is why it is worth studying carefully and exploring the new aspects of communication, whether it is formal or informal.
Keywords: communication, informal communication, “grapevine”.
In the scientific circles, there are various explanations of the term “communication.” Communication is mainly known as an act of exchange of information between individuals. It helps to express thoughts and feelings. Communication may be verbal (speech) and non-verbal (sings, gestures, mimics etc.). Among the main principles of communication in management lies its division into formal and informal one.
An American scientist Harold Lasswell interprets communication as an act that consists of the elements which may be identified by giving answers on the following questions: who-says, what-in, which channel-to, whom-with, what effect (Lasswell, 2007, p. 216). This shows that to take place, communication has to include at least three components: a sender, a message, and a recipient.
Functions of Communication
Communication performs a great role in everyday life and can not be underestimated. It is a process of satisfying personal and social needs. Scientists distinguish a number of different functions. In the paper, we describe a few of them.
Informative function lies in receiving or giving the information in the process of communication. One of the prime functions is to enable people to maintain relationships (Steinberg, 2007, p. 19). Relations are based on communication, sharing thoughts and ideas between people. Communication can also be an inner dialogue – a conscious or unconscious process of making, for example, decisions, that helps to develop a sense of who we are. It is known as a “self-concept.” Decisions are rarely made without communication since debates are a part of life. One of the purposes of communication is to influence and persuade others. It also provides opportunities to cognize the world and people. Communication is used on the organizational level. It helps to maintain social stability. This may be achieved by the emotional function. Thus, communication is a mechanism of expressing feelings and emotions in order to satisfy personal needs.
The formal communication is a proper way of conveying thoughts between people. This type of communication may be noticed within every organization. An informal communication is acceptable on certain levels. It can put the interlocutors in the state of personal confidence and ease a process of sharing ideas. Informal communication corresponds to the domain of friendly relationships. The significance of informal communication lies in the ability to facilitate any process or activity people do together.
It should be noticed that informal communication permits the usage of figurative language, which helps to express a person his or her way of perceiving the world.
Within the informal communication a notion “grapevine” is known. The term is originated form the days of Civil War when Army of Intelligence has used “vinelike” telegraph wires to send messages (Mishra, 1990). Those messages were inaccurate, and usually they developed into rumors. The idea was to transmit information fast. In the present time, the term “grapevine” stands for the informal sharing of information – gossip or rumor.
Grapevine provides an opportunity for people to liberate themselves and release from the emotional stress (Mishra, 1990). Contemporary ideas manage to represent grapevines with the following formula (according to studies of Allport): R=IA, where R is the level of intensity of the rumor; I is the value of the rumor; A is the level of accuracy of the rumor. The importance and the ambiguousness (accuracy) are the controlling factors (Mishra, 1990). The formula explains that quantity of rumors depends on their subject and importance. We may come to the conclusion that, if the message does not carry a significant meaning, or the accuracy is zero, then there is no rumor.
Grapevines are useful in supplementing already existing formal channels of communication. It may organize brainstorming in order to solve any problem. It also reveals natural desire of human beings to satisfy curiosity and brings employees the sensation of being a part of organization. Grapevines have the impact upon the culture as they circulate fast and are a part of healthy need to communicate. They influence transparency since they have the quality of being easy to know about. People find grapevines interesting, and that is why the information is shared among wide circles. These facts suggest grapevine to be a valued element of communication.
Any organization has its specific environment. Employees have a right to be informed about things which happen in the surrounding they work. Employees frequently express the desire to know about some changes. Among the solutions, people find grapevine to be a useful thing to get the information. This increases the index of work progress and keeps the feel-good-atmosphere within the organization.
Persons feel themselves frustrated without communication. It causes anxiety and a general feeling of unease. Communication correlates with the sense of personal freedom and importance. Experience shows that employees should not be isolated from news to be successful.
Communication provides people with the possibilities to realize the full potential a person has. It is an inalienable part of human nature. Communication may be formal and informal. It is an activity of conveying ideas in any of their manifestations. Communication performs various functions: informative, the function of developing relations, the self-concept, emotional, and others. It also falls into several levels according to the specific situations; that is why it is necessary to distinguish whether the formal or informal communication is more suitable. The significance of the informal communication may be found in its impact on culture, transparency and sharing of information. One can expect to succeed in every matter if he understands the main mechanisms and directions communication has.
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