Compilation of answers on the different types of communication. Learn about: 1. Downward Communication 2. Upward Communication 3. Horizontal Communication 4. Verbal Communication 5. Non-Verbal Communication 6. Formal Communication 7. Informal Communication.
Answer 1. Types of Communication:
Communications in organizations may be classified as downward, upward and horizontal communications. They may be oral or written. They may also be classified as verbal and non-verbal communications. Verbal communications include oral and written communications. Non-verbal communications refer to the body language or the use of gestures and body movements. In fact, no method of communication is independent.
All these types of communications are discussed below:
1. Downward Communication:
Downward communication is the flow of information from top to bottom. The hierarchical system between superiors and subordinates is maintained through downward communication. Downward communication is made to the employees at lower levels through directions and instructions.
Conforming to the formal channel of communication, downward communication passes through different hierarchical levels in the organization. Downward communication is used for the practice of delegation of authority in which the superiors assign the tasks to be performed by their subordinates, sanction authority and also make them accountable for achieving the results.
2. Upward Communication:
In upward communication, information flows from bottom to top. This is intended to facilitate managers to receive information from the operational levels. Higher levels of management should get the feedback information from lower levels in the form of reports and responses. They need to know how an assigned task is performed by the subordinates and also their reactions and satisfaction.
Upward communication tends to become slow. They are usually subject to delay and filtering. A manager at each level is reluctant to take a problem upward because to do so is considered as a confession of failure. Therefore, each level delays the communication in an effort to decide how to solve the problem.
If the problem cannot be solved, the message may be filtered so that higher management receives only a part of the information. An employee tends to convey the superior only what the employee thinks the superior wants to hear. Therefore, each subordinate has his own reasons for selecting, interpreting, and other filtering actions.
3. Horizontal Communication:
This is also known as lateral communication, which takes place among people equal in hierarchy. It is necessary for achieving mutual support and mutual cooperation for the effective of functioning of various organizational units. For example, as a Marketing Manager, one has to communicate to the production manager the market trends, customer expectations, changes in product demand etc.
Similarly, a stores manager and a finance manager have to work together for optimization of financial resources. A HR manager has to work with other managers to exchange information about the manpower supply, training and development, and their welfare.
4. Verbal Communication:
This includes both oral and written communications, which are discussed below:
a. Oral Communication:
The most common form of communication in organizations is oral. It takes the form of face – to – face conversation when the speaker and listener are physically at one place or they may use a public address system, an intercom or a telephone when they are at a distance. It is effective because the receiver not only hears the message but also simultaneously observes the gestures used, the tone, volume, pitch of the spoken words.
The voice of the speaker plays an important role in influencing the attitudes and feelings of a person rather than the written words used for communications. Further, an immediate feedback can be obtained avoiding any kind of delay. The speaker can convey the personal warmth and friendliness apart from the message. It is, in fact, a less expensive form of communication.
However, a few limitations also can be found in oral communications. Since it is not recorded, it does not serve the purpose of reference in future. In the absence of evidence, this attempt by either party cannot be checked. Further, when the oral communication passes through the long hierarchical channel, it is likely to be misinterpreted and finally distorted information is passed on to the people.
Written communication is also a part of verbal communication, which takes the form of letters, reports, memos, instructions, guidelines, policy manuals, annual reports etc. Human memory is short and therefore, it is desirable to communicate to people in written form. It provides a permanent record for future reference and acts as evidence. The possibility of misinterpretation or misunderstanding of the message is little. It can be checked for accuracy before it is transmitted.
Written communication, however, requires skills and abilities on the part of managers or workers in the organizations. An ordinary worker may not be very strong in his writing skills. Even some managers also, at times, prove ineffective in their written communications compared to their oral communications. If there is confidential information to be communicated, written form of communication is not desirable because of the possible leakage.
In this form of communication, non-verbal methods are used like the movement of body organs. It is also called body language. People are engaged in this kind of communication through a handshake, waving the hand, a smile, a stare, an eye wink, a nod of the head, raise of eyebrows, shrugging of shoulders, bending the body forward, leaning backwards and in many other ways.
In the day-today communications, you may be doing all these things. All these movements of the body convey their respective meanings to others. In organizations, the managers as well as workers are required to make use of the bodily gestures for the purpose of communication.
Written communication is not adequate in conveying your emotions, feelings, or dispositions for which some kind of facial expression is required, may be to show your love or anger, fear or frustration, arrogance or anxiety.
It may, however, be recognized that the instances of communicating exclusively by using non-verbal methods are very few. Mostly these are combined with oral methods communications to make the latter more effective. In fact, one cannot engage in oral communication without the use of non-verbal methods.
Formal organization shapes the communication process in such a way that it facilitates the behaviour of organizational members. Formal organizational structure establishes relationship between the various organization members and describes the formal line of authority, power, responsibility and accountability. All these relationships account for formal communication.
Informal communication supplements formal communication and this relationship is referred to as the “Grapevine”. It has no structure. It has no direction. It comes into existence when formal organizational members who know each other pass on information relating to the organization. It is based on informal relationship among the organization members.
It is conveyed by a simple gesture, glance, not, smile or silence. It is very effective for quick communication. The information passed through informal structure is not openly available to the entire group due to the fact that it is regarded as confidential. The Grapevine may flourish if formal communication is inadequate. It is inevitable and valuable.
Features of Grapevine:
(i) It is oral communication in nature.
(ii) It has a long chain. It may also follow a cluster chain.
(iii) Out of the total Grapevine, three-fourths found to be accurate.
(iv) It is a product of the situation.
(v) It spreads fast in atmosphere of insecurity, uncertainty and excitement, such as strike period.
(vi) It may be work related or people related.
(vii) It helps management in interpreting its policies to the employees and communicating then reactions to the management.
The benefits of Grapevine are as follows:
(i) It brings a kind of cohesiveness to formal organization.
(ii) It imparts to members of formal organization a sense of belonging, status self-respect and satisfaction.
(iii) Many managers consciously use it as a channel of communication and moulder of employee morale.
Answer 2. Types of Communication:
Information must flow faster than ever before in modern organisations. Even a dismal stoppage on fast-moving operation time can be very costly. What is more important is providing more, relevant and faster information. Managers need information to carry out managerial functions and activities effectively. There is no universally applicable communication system. But individual managers have to tailor their own system depending on their needs.
Communication flows through various channels. These channels include vertical, i.e., downward and upward, horizontal and diagonal or crosswise. Traditionally, downward communication was emphasized. But later, it is realized that upward communication is also equally important.
Vertical communication includes downward communication and upward communication.
Downward communication flows from higher level to lower level in the organisational hierarchy. This type of flow is an essential character of an authoritarian atmosphere. Thus, downward flow of information is from superior to subordinate.
The basic purpose of communication are:
i. To provide specific task directives or instructions;
ii. To provide information about task relationships;
iii. To provide information about an organisation’s missions, objectives, policies, procedures, programmes, etc.;
iv. To provide feedback about subordinate’s performance;
v. To let the people know the pride of being relatively well informed.
The advantages of downward communication are:
i. It helps to inform the employees about policies; objectives, etc.;
ii. To execute and implement various programmes;
iii. It facilitates to improve quality of response.
The disadvantages of downward communication are:
i. It causes delay and time consuming process;
ii. It is only a one way process;
iii. There is no provision for feedback;
iv. It provides for rigid communication network; and
v. There is no scope for subordinates to express their views.
Media Used for Downward Communication:
The organisational culture pertaining to its structure, lines of command and communication have changed dramatically after the globalisation and privatisation of business. The traditional style of downward communication has been changed significantly. The traditional downward communication includes, print and oral media. The written media include letters, manuals, handbooks, house magazines, noticeboard items, reports, posters, orders, and the like.
The oral media in downward communication include face-to-face orders, instructions, telephonic orders, speeches, meetings, closed-circuit television programmes, and the like.
The shift in organisational culture reduced the gap between or among the organisational hierarchies. Consequently, downward communication has been acquiring the characteristics of informal communication for the purpose of free flow of information. Further, the development in telecommunication increased the effectiveness of downward communication. These developments include video-conferences. Local Area Network (LAN), Wide-Area Network (WAN), fax, telephone and the like.
(ii) Upward Communication:
Upward communication flows from lower level to upper level in organisational hierarchy. This flow is often hindered by managers in the chain particularly in case of unfavourable information.
Upward communication is necessary to offer suggestions to lodge complaints, ventilate grievances, to respond to counseling, opinion survey, and exit interviews, to discuss in meetings and participate in decision-making.
The techniques are designed to improve organisational functioning by providing top management with information about the attitudes and ideas of the workforce. They are used to promote the upward flow of information.
Managers should encourage upward communication with a view to:
i. Create receptiveness of communication;
ii. Create a feeling of belonging through a shared meaning;
iii. Evaluate communication; and
iv. Demonstrate a concern for the ideas and views of lower level employees.
Advantages of upward communication include:
i. Scope for two-way communication;
ii. Possibility for immediate feedback; and
iii. Scope for employee satisfaction.
Methods of Improving the Effectiveness of Upward Communication:
The globalisation and privatisation of business brought significant changes in the communication culture due to severe competition. Top management initiates and encourages upward communication for the operational and organisational efficiency.
Managements use the following methods to improve the effectiveness of upward communication:
(i) Managing by Walking Around:
Managers under this style of leadership do not confine their office to their chambers. Instead, they walk around and meet all their subordinates at the workplace of the latter. They discuss various issues relating to the job, organisation and employee. The subordinates freely express views, share their ideas, offer their suggestions and ventilate their problems as the subordinate is in his place of work and the boss comes down there. Many managers started using this style as it has been improving upward communication.
(ii) The Open Door Policy:
The open-door policy does mean that the managers would invite and encourage the subordinates to meet them always and communicate with them on various jobs, organisational and individual related issues freely.
When the managers say that ‘my doors are always open to you,’ they mean that others can have unlimited access to the former. This policy also improves upward communication. Managers should put this policy in practice as the adage; ‘actions speak louder than words’ applies.
(iii) The Ombudsman Position:
The ombudsman position is largely held by the senior people in the organisation who are about to retire. These senior people offer suggestions and advice to the junior employees regarding career and personal issues. These senior people offer suggestions based on their experience and expertise. The ombudsman plays a figurehead role and a well-wisher’s role. Therefore, he encourages upward communication through the open-door policy.
(iv) An Empowerment Strategy:
Empowerment involves imparting power to the subordinates by providing them information, knowledge, expertise and special skills in addition to delegating authority. Managers empower their employees with a view to equip the latter with necessary power to make appropriate decisions in the right time by avoiding the unnecessary procedures and formalities. This, in turn, helps to carry-out the job most efficiently. In fact, subordinates communicate upward freely in the empowerment situation as they are regarded as knowledgeable and expert employees.
(v) Participative Management:
Participative style of management involves the employees in information sharing, arguments, proposals and counter proposals, development of alternative decisions and selection of the best decision. This entire process enables and enhances upward communication. Employees in participative decision-making are more satisfied and motivated as they are allowed to communicate freely.
(vi) Counseling, Attitude Surveys and Exit Interviews:
Human Resources Management department conducts employee and career counseling sessions to encourage the employee to communicate his feelings freely. Further, managements conduct attitude surveys through questionnaires which solicit employees’ views. Similarly, exit interviews also solicit employee’s reactions to the policies and practices of management. Thus, counseling, attitude surveys and exit interviews facilitate upward communication.
(vii) The Grievance Procedure:
If employees are not satisfied with the action of their superiors, they can communicate their dissatisfaction beyond their immediate superior and seek redressal of the grievance. This process allows employees to communicate upward.
Sending messages through e-mail to any one has become the order of communication today. Employees who were reluctant to speak to their bosses face-to- face, and to speak on phone can use e-mail freely. Therefore, use of e-mail encourages upward communication.
Problem of Upward and Downward Communication:
Downward communication keeps reducing as it is modified and filtered at each level. Superiors always think of what should be passed down to subordinates and passed on only that which they feel can be passed down. Upward communication also undergoes all this as middle managers believe that it is part of their job to decide what information should go up and how much. For these reasons, vertical communication is often incomplete.
Communication is said to be horizontal when it takes place between two employees of the same level in the organisational hierarchy. For example, communication between production and marketing managers. Horizontal communication is essential because of the fact that the departments in an organisation are interdependent and the coordination of their activities is necessary.
Horizontal communication is used to bring about task coordination among peers, to provide emotional and social support, to strengthen relationships among peers and to allow the flow of information faster.
Diagonal or crosswise communication is between two or more persons of various departments of an organisation. Diagonal communication allows the communicator to communicate the message exactly to the person to whom it is meant. For example, the quality controller sends the message to the sales executive in order to ascertain whether a high quality product moves in a particular market or not? It is diagonal communication.
The quality controller need not send the message through the production manager and marketing manager. This communication system violates the principle of unity of command. However, diagonal communication suits the conditions of competition where fastness is the order of the day.
Types of communication can be broadly classified under internal and external communication wherein internal communication refers to the communication between superiors/subordinates existing within an organisation. External communication is related to communication with individuals outside the organisation.
Formal communication refers to official interactions of information following the chain of command and is also recognised as the official flow of communication. Under formal communication, information is communicated in writing or verbally but in a language that conforms to professional rules, standards or processes. A professional etiquette is followed during formal communication that requires respectful and decent behaviour.
1. Written and verbal – A superior/subordinate can communicate with each other in writing and verbally. Daily work is managed verbally while policy-related matters need to be communicated in writing. Ideally, most communication is recorded in writing to avoid misinterpretation and non-clarity.
2. Formal relations – This communication is adopted among employees where formal relations have been established by the organisation.
3. Prescribed path – The communication should be conveyed through a definite channel that passes from one person to another (above or below) in a hierarchy. For example, if a shop floor worker wishes to communicate something, this worker communicates first to the supervisor who in turn communicates with the manager who further communicates with the general manager thus following a prescribed path along formal lines of communication.
4. Organisational message – Formal communication enables conveyance of messages which are official and related to the organisation. It does not include personal messages.
5. Deliberate effort – This channel of communication is not created automatically but effort has to be made for its creation in accordance to the organisational goals.
Advantages of Formal Communication:
1. Maintenance of authority – Formal communication maintains constant and continuous relations among the superiors and the subordinates, which further restores the dignity of the line superiors. It is favourably a convenient approach to control the tasks / responsibilities of subordinates.
2. Clear and effective – There exists a direct contact between superiors and subordinates who understand each other’s capability, habits, feelings, etc. Consequently communication becomes clear and effective with timed information flowing from superiors to subordinates and vice-versa.
3. Orderly flow of information – The information needs to pass through a definite path along the line of chain of command making the flow of information orderly.
4. Easy knowledge on source of information – As the conveyance of information follows a definite and prescribed path, superiors/subordinates can obtain knowledge on the source of information very easily.
Limitations of Formal Communication:
1. Overload of work- Information routed through a definite channel consumes lot of time between superiors and subordinates especially when it requires follow-up and feedback after every message is conveyed. This leads to overload of work in addition to assigned tasks/responsibilities to be accomplished.
2. Distortion of information- Formal communication can hinder the conveyance process of messages if the distance between the issuer and receptor is long across hierarchy. The information can become easily distorted till it reaches the receptor.
3. Impersonal and indifferent- The definite and formal route makes the communication of message impersonal between superiors and subordinates. Also, superiors may not pay attention to the suggestions of the subordinates making them lose faith in effectiveness of the communication.
Types of Formal Communication:
1. Vertical Communication:
Vertical communication is called as two-way communication involving periodic communication of messages from superiors to subordinates.
There are two types of vertical communication discussed as follows:
(a) Downward communication is when the information is sent or transmitted from the higher levels to the lower levels of management (such as job instructions, procedures and practices, performance feedback, etc.), whereas;
(b) Upward communication is when the information is sent from the lower level to the higher levels of management (such as performance reports, suggestions for improvement, problems and grievances, etc.).
2. Horizontal Communication:
Horizontal communication is when information flows across different departments and levels. Horizontal communication can be further categorised under-Intradepartmental problem solving, where information flows between members of the same department for problem solving; Interdepartmental coordination, where information flows between members in different departments working together on a project or product and; Change initiatives and improvements, which include messages designed to share information among teams and departments.
Formal Communication Networks are an arrangement or a system of interconnected people and processes through formal means of communication. It reflects formal lines of communication and flow of information within the organisational structure. There are five patterns of formal communication networks – Wheel; Circular; Free flow; Chain and; Inverted V networks.
(i) Wheel Network:
A wheel network refers to a network of subordinates wherein communication should necessarily pass through the person in the centre. As shown in Fig. 7.8 four subordinates convey messages only to and from the person ‘A’ at the centre. This network provides no scope for interactions between subordinates and possibly suggests autocratic leadership.
(ii) Circular Network:
Communication in a circular network can occur among two neighbours of each subordinate following a circle of communication. This means that the subordinate can communicate with any two other subordinates.
(iii) Chain Network:
Chain network is also known as vertical network that involves conveying information from one person to another and who then passes it on to another person. This type of network can be observed in institutions with hierarchical systems such as civil services. The network has a leader at the top who oversees all organisational operations and communicates downwards and upwards to different areas of a business.
(iv) Inverted V Network:
Inverted V network involves rapid communication between the subordinates and their superiors and their superiors’ superiors. Conversely, there is limited communication from superiors to their subordinates. This network can be advantageous for subordinates who wish to access corporate network resources in minimal time.
Free-flow network-In this network all subordinates can freely communicate with each other and everyone has maximum opportunity to freely express their views, ideas and opinions. This type network mostly exists among start-ups or small businesses.
2. Informal Communication:
Informal communication refers to unofficial communication occurring between different people across different groups and departments. The exchange of informal messages usually occurs during special occasions like social occasions, parties, etc. Informal communication is similar to casual conversations or bantering between two or more individuals who may be friends or club members or have similarities in places of residing or origins, etc.
Characteristics of Informal Communication:
1. Formation through social unions – Communication occurs due to informal social unions between individuals from different departments. There are no definite paths build to communicate leading creating a sociable environment.
2. Two types of information – Informal communication enables collection of two types of information – about work and about the individual.
3. Uncertain path – It follows no certain path like a grapevine.
4. Possibility of rumour and distortion – The informal associations enable flow of information which can be casual, emotional or humorous. Information can possibly translate into rumours and distortions.
5. Quick relay – The sociable environment enables information to flow quickly across people, which may also become rumour.
Advantages of Informal Communication:
1. Fast and effective – Messages through this form of communication move faster and its impact is also more effective than formal communication.
2. Free environment – Free environment implies that there is no pressure on following the line of command. Employees are mostly relaxed and their reactions can be easily collected.
3. Better human relations – Tensions between superior/subordinates can be easily tackled under informal communication. It helps build better human relations than formal communication.
4. Easy solution to difficult problems – There are many problems which cannot be solved with the help of formal communication. With more opportunity to interact freely in informal set ups, it helps find solutions to difficult problems.
5. Satisfying social needs – Employees’ social needs can be satisfied through informal communication. Organisations facilitate informal communication in the form of office dinners, recreational activities, etc., to motivate employees.
Limitations of Informal Communication:
1. Unsystematic communication – The communication follows an indefinite and random path. The casualness in interaction may be unable to convey an important message to the concerned person.
2. Unreliable information – Most of the information received through this communication is not dependable and no important decision can be taken accordingly.
3. Information leakage – It may leak out confidential information during any casual interactions among social groups.
4. Incomplete information – As information can be unreliable, information conveyed during such interactions may also be incomplete.
3. Grapevine Network:
Grapevine communication is an informal form of communication, which is transmitted from different superiors / subordinates during casual or social interactions in an organisation. Grapevine literally means a vine (a weak-stemmed plant) on which grapes are grown. Just like the grapevine, the information can get twisted and distorted when a message is conveyed between two or more people. Grapevine information may occur due to management pressures on employees or employee dissatisfaction and demotivation.
There are four types of grapevine communication as shown in Fig. 7.9:
1. Single strand – In a single strand, a person conveys a message to a trustworthy person who in turn passes that information to another trustworthy person forming a single chain. The information can also move upwards and downwards along the chain.
2. Gossip chain – In a gossip chain, a person conveys a message to more than one person or to a group of people. One of the group members may know something interesting that is conveyed to this specific group. In the diagram, person A knows a piece of information which is conveyed to people B, C, D and E.
3. Probability – In this form of communication, a person is indifferent about some known /made-up information. He/she expresses this information randomly to a group of people. This group is also surrounded by other groups to whom this information is further conveyed. In the diagram, person A is surrounded with random people E, F and D. He conveys a message randomly to people E and D deliberately ignoring F. Subsequently, E passes on the information to C, B and G while D passed on to L, J and K.
4. Cluster – In cluster-based grapevine, a person expresses information to selected individuals. Those who receive the information further pass it on to another set of selected individuals. In the diagram, person A selects B, D and E and conveys a message based on trust. Person D does not convey this message to anyone but B conveys it to selected person C and E conveys it to F, G and H and so on.
Answer 4. Types of Business Communication:
1. According to Organisational Structure:
Such communications are those communications which are associated with the formal organisation structure. They travel through the formal channel officially recognised positions in the organisation chart. They are established mainly by the organisation structure. Formal communications are mostly in black and white. We generally hear the phase “through proper channel”.
It explains the essence of formal channels such communications include orders and instructions of the superior. It is the path of Line Authority linking two positions in the organisation. It is also known as “Channel of Command”. All downward and upward and horizontal communications flow through this chain.
The important advantages of formal communications are as follows:
(1) It Helps to Maintain the Authority of Line Executives:
Who control the subordinates and are answerable to their bosses for their work and conduct on the work. They can easily fix up the responsibility for the activities carried out by the sub-ordinates.
(2) This Channel Helps to Understand the Attitude and Behaviour of Boss and Subordinates by Each Other Well:
Because an immediate superior has a direct contact with his sub-ordinates so a better understanding is developed and communication is made more effective.
(3) A Better Solution of Problems Can Possibly be Found Easily:
Since the executive knows better about the organisation and its problems than the subordinates. So, a better solution of problems can possibly be found easily and good relations between the leaders and his sub-ordinates develop.
The following are the disadvantages or limitations of the formal communication:
(1) Action Based or Unforeseen Event Cannot be Formalised:
Every happening in the organisation cannot be foreseen therefore, action based on unforeseen event cannot be formalised.
(2) It Increases the Workload of the Line Superiors:
Because all communications are transmitted through them. It leaves no time with the superiors to perform other organisational functions well.
(3) It Enhances the Chances of More Transmission Errors and Reduces Accuracy of the Message:
Because there is a long queue of superiors from bottom to the top and it sometimes distort the essence of information affecting the accuracy of the message adversely.
(4) It Implies Delay Tactics and Tapism:
Because executives overlook the interest of their sub-ordinates. Any communication upward or downward favouring subordinates are more often suppressed or delayed by the superiors.
(5) This Adversely Affects the Relations of the Executives and Subordinates:
In most of the big organisations, the contacts of sub-ordinates at the lowest level with the top most superior are far remote. They sometime do not even recognise each other.
These type of communication are also known as ‘GRAPEVINE’ communications. They are free from all sorts of formalities, because they are based on the informal relationship between the parties, such as friendship, membership of the same club or association or origin from the same place. Such communications include comments, suggestions or any other informal reaction also.
They may be conveyed by a single glance, gesture nod, smile or mere silence too. In this the organisational and personal matters are discussed. Here it is not the result of any official action but of the operation of personal, social and group relations of the people.
This type of communication is free from all formalities planned in an organisation. No formal organisational chart is followed to convey the message. It is based on informal relationship between the two parties sender and receiver developed in an organisation between the two parties.
Following are the advantages of the informal communication:
(1) At a Faster Speed:
In this the communications can be transferred or transmitted at a faster speed.
(2) It is Dynamic and Can React Quickly:
Because informal channels have their sanction in the social groups that develop within the organisation and messages are communicated freely with each other. It is free from all formally delegated lines of authority.
(3) It is Multi-Dimensional:
There is no channel of command; discussion may be made on any topic of interest to the group and with any person irrespective of his position in the organisation chart. It may go to any extent, all limits as to direction and degree of communication are self-imposed. Therefore, it promotes co-operation on sound lines.
(4) At Tunes, It May Supplement the Formal Channel:
If properly, utilised, it may disseminate and clarify management’s viewpoints which otherwise may not be appealing where sent through formal channels. It may also provide feedback to managers on possible effects of a decision of action by management.
It Suffers from the Following Weaknesses:
(1) It Carries Rumours and Distorted Information’s:
It has been seen that it very often carries half-truths, rumours and distorted information with an alarming rate of speed. In the absence of a mechanism for authentication of the news and views, the members of the organisation are likely to be misinformed and misled by informal organisation.
(2) Action of Erratic Information Cannot be Fixed:
In the absence of an authentic channel of command responsibility of an action or of an erratic information cannot be fixed and therefore any action taken on the basis of such communication may be erratic and may lead the organisation in difficulty.
It is obvious that no one system formal or informal is complete and both can complement, supplement and supplant to each other. Both the systems exist in all organisations together.
While some messages are passed through formal communication, some others may spread through informal deliberations, grapevine, etc. The two channels provide opportunity of interaction between the functional and social system of an organisation.
This has been divided under three heads and they are as follows:
i. Downward Communication.
ii. Upward Communication
iii. Horizontal or Lateral Communication.
i. Downward Communication:
Communications that flow from the top of the organisation down through the various levels to the bottom of the organisation along with the scalar chain are known downward communications. Such communications include orders, instructions, rules, policies, programmes and directives, etc., from the chief executives of the company and reach lowest level functionaries through middle management. While transmitting the directives, the line in the organisational chart is followed. It specifies the extent of sub-ordinates authority and their responsibilities.
According to Katz and Khan, the downward communication system has five major objectives and they are as follows:
(1) To give specific task directive about job satisfaction.
(2) To give information about organisational procedures and practices.
(3) To provide information about the rationale of the job.
(4) To tell the sub-ordinates about their performance.
(5) To provide ideological type information to facilitate indoctrination of goals.
Here the system –
(1) Helps in explaining the company policies, plans and programmes and it helps to work methodology and necessary information to the members of the organisation.
(2) It is used as a means to exercise control over them by intimating them their performance on the job.
(3) It brings satisfaction to people and helps to motivate them.
But the system fails when the information has to pass through the excessive levels of hierarchy and is interpreted and re-interpreted at each intervening level. The original information may reach the lowest level, possibly in distorted and changed shape. This may lose the very objective of communication.
In order to build an effective line of communication, the managers must be cautious enough to the following points:
(1) The message must be unambiguous and unequivocal.
(2) It should be specific to time and place.
(3) It must be consistent with the duties, responsibilities, capacities and decision making abilities of the receiver.
(4) It must be in consistence with the organisational practices and instructions.
(5) It must be consistent with the organisational goals and objectives.
This communication is just reverse of the downward communication. Under this system communication flows from the bottom of the organisation upward to the top of the organisation through middle managers along the line.
Such communication is of two types:
(1) Feedback of Information,
(2) Voluntary Communication.
(1) Feedback of Information:
Is in response to the management’s original communication. Sometimes, managers solicit information to know the response of sub-ordinates to the orders and instructions issued their feelings about their jobs and work environment.
(2) Voluntary Communication:
Is to carry from the sub-ordinates their complaints, suggestions, intelligence, reports, innovative ideas, opinions, reactions, etc.
(1) Generally this second type of upward communication is ignored by the superiors, because –
(a) Top management may be unwilling to listen to the junior persons in authority; and
(b) The information received by the top management may be directed due to several authorities in between.
(2) The author problem is of status differences. The lower level functionaries hesitate in communicating the message to their bosses freely due to lack of social and verbal skills.
In order to ease the situation, the top executive and his team should change their attitude and must adhere to the problems and grievances of the sub-ordinates. They must listen to the people at lower levels and have an open door policy so that they may be aware of the real picture of happenings in the organisation.
It refers to the flow of information between departments or people of equal level in an organisational structure. The two departments may be under the same superior or may have different heads. Such communication may be written or oral. The main object of this communication is to co-ordinate the efforts of different departments or persons.
(1) Helps in coordinating the efforts of different departments of equal level under the same boss, such as sale, purchase, production, finance and personnel managers may sit together to evolve a common formula to achieve organisation goal.
(2) It removes duplication of work and thus minimising the wastage of time, money, labour and materials.
The main problem which very often arises is the differences in approach and vision of different functionaries who advocate things from their own angles and this affects the productivity and efficiency of the organisation adversely.
So the effectiveness of the communication depends largely as the ability and willingness of experts to see each other’s point of view and showed by to adjust so that problems may be overcome in a concerted manner.
According to expression, communication may be:
ii. Written; and
Oral communication is that type of transmission in which the spoken words is a common system of communication. In this both parties of the process exchange their ideas through oral words either in face to face situation or through any mechanical device such as telephone etc., meetings, lectures, and conferences are some of other media of such communication.
The important advantages of oral communication are as follows:
(1) It saves time and money.
(2) It is more effective communication system. Gestures, tones and facial expressions make the communication effective and efficient.
(3) The parties concerned can easily exchange their thoughts and feelings. They can know the reactions of each other immediately and can remove the doubts if any, in the minds of any party.
(4) It is the only way out during the period of emergency.
(5) Effectiveness of the communication may be measured immediately and conveniently. The communicator can determine instantaneously whether the receiver is following him or not.
(6) This helps him in improving the motivation of people and generating a feeling of participation.
Oral communication is not suitable in the following cases:
(1) Where the message to be conveyed is too lengthy to clarify, the oral communication is not suitable.
(2) The impact of verbal communication is purely temporary and there is no documentary proof of such communication.
(3) Serious thought is not possible because the receiver is to take immediate decision in response of the communication received from the sender.
(4) There is every possibility that spoken words are not clearly heard or understood or may be taken in some other sense. It is very often possible in communication through mechanical devices.
Thus, the use of oral communication is very limited.
Where oral communication is not possible to each and every concerned either due to a large number of communicatees in an organisation or due to geographical distances of sender and receiver of the communications, the written communications become essential. When communication is reduced to black and white it is called written communication.
This includes written words, graphs, charts, diagrams, pictures etc. This is the most common form of communication used in the organisation. A written communication helps in determining responsibility.
Written communication has the following advantages:
(1) Where both the parties i.e., sender and receiver are far off even beyond the telephonic range, written communication is the only means of communication.
(2) Where message is too lengthy and meant for a large number of persons– Written communication is the only way out.
(3) This is necessary for future references- Policy matters, service conditions, secret orders and instructions etc., can only be satisfactorily and effectively communicated through written communication because they are necessary for future references, so that suitable action can be taken against the sub-ordinates who fail to follow the communication.
(4) Written communication allows time to the recipient to think, analyse and then to decide the course of action.
(5) It reduces disputes- Jurisdictional frictions and back passing etc.
(6) It has permanent effect- Written communication has permanent effect on the recipient.
Written communication suffers from the following weaknesses:
(1) It is costly and time consuming- Time is consumed in preparing drafts and communicating through possible available means by the sender and in understanding the message and feeding it back by the receiver. It cannot be communicated as quickly as verbal communication.
(2) In this everything cannot be put in black and white.
(3) The written communication cannot remain confidential because it passes through many hands.
(4) It is not flexible and results in red-tapism.
The relative advantages and disadvantages of oral and written communication make it clear that application of either of the two methods is harmful and will not solve the purpose. A mid of both those methods oral and written is advisable.
Answer 5. Types of Business Communication
Communication may broadly be classified into three categories:
1. On the Basis of Organizational Structure:
(a) Formal communication
(b) Informal communication
2. On the Basis of Direction of Communication:
(a) Downward communication
(b) Upward communication
(c) Horizontal communication
3. On the Basis of Way of Expression:
(a) Verbal communication
(b) Written communication
We shall now discuss these types of communication in detail.
1. Communication on the Basis of Organizational Structure:
(a) Formal Communication:
It is closely associated with the formal organization structure. The communications travel through the formal channel i.e., efficiency recognized positions in the organization chart. An attempt is made to make the flow of information orderly so that it flows smoothly and timely to the points where it is required. All downward and upward and horizontal communications flow through this chain.
The following are the advantages of Formal communication:
1. It helps maintain the authority of line executives. They can easily fix up the responsibility for the activities carried out by the sub-ordinates.
2. The formal channel helps understand the attitude and behaviour of boss and sub-ordinates by each other well because an immediate superior has a direct contact with his sub-ordinate.
3. Since the executive knows better about the organization and its problems than the sub-ordinates so a better solution of problems can possibly be found easily.
Disadvantages of Formal communication are given below:
1. Every happening in the organization cannot be foreseen hence action based on unforeseen event cannot be formalised.
2. It increases the workload of the line superior because all communications are transmitted through them.
3. It enhances chances of more transmission errors and reduces accuracy of the message because there is a long queue of the superiors from bottom to the top.
4. It implies delay tactics and red-tapism because executives overlook the interests of their sub-ordinates.
(b) Informal Communication:
This type of communication is free from all formalities planned in an organization. No formal organization chart is followed to convey the message. It is based on informal relationship between the two parties i.e., sender and receiver when interaction takes place among them, small groups emerge spontaneously for the purpose of social satisfaction and they develop their own communication system called the informal communication system or the grapevine.
Informal Communication Channel:
It is an unofficial channel of communication that arises out of socio-psychological needs of individuals to interact with each other. It is an important and spontaneous outgrowth of formal channels of communication. It emphasizes more on person than position. It arises when people of common nationality, caste or religion interact with each other or when people share a car pool or meet each other in canteens, libraries, bus stands etc.
It is an informal communication network where information flows freely throughout the organisation. Grapevine is the most common form of informal communication. It connects people throughout the organisation and transmits information in every direction: vertical, horizontal and diagonal. It cuts across formal positions and facilitates social, personal and psychological interaction amongst people. It travels faster than formal communication channel but also carries gossips and rumors along with true information.
Features of Grapevine Communication:
Grapevine communication is characterized by the following features:
(a) It connects almost everybody in the organisation.
(b) It flows in every direction — vertical, horizontal and diagonal.
(c) It does not follow the official chain of command.
(d) It is a fast channel of communication.
(e) It generally occurs at the work site, though it may occur outside the organisation also.
(f) It arises out of social and personal interaction amongst people in the organisation.
(g) It is based on people rather than task.
(h) It generally occurs orally.
(i) It can occur in various forms known as communication chains.
Patterns of Grapevine Communication—Grapevine Communication Chains:
Grapevine communization chain represents the pattern in which information flows in different directions.
Keith Davis identifies four types of communication chains:
(a) Single-Strand Chain:
In this chain, information passes from one person to the other in a sequential order. A tells something to B who tells it to C, C to D and so on till the information reaches the person concerned, say J.
(b) Gossip Chain:
In this chain, one person passes information to everyone else in the organisation. He is not selective about passing the information. This information is not related to work but is of interest to all.
(c) Probability Chain:
In this chain, information is passed randomly by one person to all those who come in contact with him. These persons further pass the information in the same random fashion. This information is not significant but is somewhat interesting.
(d) Cluster Chain:
In this chain, one person passes information to a selected few confidentially. Some of them keep the information to themselves and others pass it to other selected few whom they trust. Information of interest is transmitted further and rest is retained by members. It is the most common pattern of grapevine or informal communication.
Merits of Grapevine Communication:
Informal or grapevine communication channel has the following merits:
Communication through this channel spreads very fast. It spreads like wild fire throughout the organisation. “It is just between you and me” is the basis of spreading information through grapevine.
(b) Supports Formal Communication Channel:
This channel is an important supplement to formal channel of communication. What cannot be communicated through formal channel, because of time or official constraints, can be successfully transmitted through informal channels.
(c) Nature of Information:
Information about company’s history, moral values and traditions can be transmitted through informal channels better than formal channels.
Managers can get feedback from sub-ordinates regarding the policies, directions, instructions etc. Feedback through informal channel is faster than the formal channel.
(e) Human Relations:
Since informal channels cut across official positions and hierarchical relationships, they develop healthy relations amongst people in the organisation.
(f) Socio-Psychological Needs:
This channel satisfies people’s social and psychological needs to interact with each other and share their joys and sorrows.
Limitations of Grapevine Communication:
Informal communication channel suffers from the following limitations:
(a) Information distortion – Since information is not based on facts; it may be wrong and distorted.
(b) Lack of authenticity – Informal communication is not authentic. Different people may interpret the same information in different ways.
(c) Problems in fixing responsibility – Origin of information cannot be ascertained in this channel. It is, therefore, difficult to hold anybody responsible for spreading false information.
(d) Incomplete information – Information filtration and distortion are the common features of informal communication. What is said by first sender is not what is received by the last receiver. There is, thus, incomplete transmission of information.
(e) Lack of evidence – Informal communication spreads by word of mouth. It is not supported by written facts. This makes it often incredible or non-dependable.
Though informal channel has limitation is, managers cannot eliminate it. It is an inevitable channel of communication. Managers should make proper use of this channel to attain their formal goals. They can use this channel to receive fast feedback to organizational plans and policies and avoid spreading gossips and rumors in the organisation.
How to Make Effective use of Grapevine Communication?
Since grapevine or informal communication channel cannot be avoided, managers should make effective use of it to attain the formal organizational goals.
(a) Managers should inform employees about organizational goals, plans, policies, etc., besides communicating through the formal channel. This will avoid spreading of rumors and gossips. While communicating with sub-ordinates, managers should not maintain distance with them.
(b) Enhance group discussions and activities so that people openly discuss their formal and informal problems.
(c) Managers should fix one time in week or month to personally meet the employees and discuss formal and informal problems with them.
(d) Managers should win the confidence of group leaders so that group goals are not contrary to individual goals.
(e) As Much as possible, decision-making should be participative in nature.
(f) Managers should keep asking the employees about the efficiency of organization plans and policies. Regular feedback can improve the existing state of affairs.
(g) Managers should be good listeners. If they want others to listen to them, they must also listen to them.
2. Communication on the Basis of Direction:
(a) Downward Communication:
Communications that flow from the top of the organization down through the various levels to the bottom of the organization along with the scalar chain are known as downward communications. Such communications include orders, instructions, rules, policies, programmes and directives.
The following are the advantages of downward communication:
i. Helps in explaining the company policies, plans and programmes, work methodology and necessary information to the members of organization.
ii. It is used as a means to exercise control over them by intimating them their performance on the job.
iii. Brings satisfaction to people and helps motivate them.
The following are the disadvantages of downward communication:
i. Sometimes communication value may be lost because of status barriers.
ii. Communication may be delayed because of various levels.
(b) Upward Communication:
Upward communication refers to the flow of communications from lower levels (sub-ordinates) to higher levels (superiors) of authority. Such communication enables the management to know what is happening throughout the organization. An executive can know the outcome of his decisions and instructions from reliable information from the employees.
The following are the advantages of upward communication:
i. It serves as a measurement of effectiveness of downward communication.
ii. It provides management with necessary information for decision making.
iii. It relieves employees from pressures and frustrations of work situations.
iv. It gives the employees a sense of participation in management.
The following are the disadvantages of upward communication:
i. Top management may be unwilling to listen to the junior persons in authority.
ii. The another problem is of status differences.
(c) Horizontal Communication:
Horizontal or lateral communication refers to the flow of information between departments or people equal level in an organization structure. The communications between functional managers, among superintendents of department working under one boss are example of such communications. Horizontal communication may be oral as well as written also.
The following are the advantages of the Horizontal Communication:
i. It helps in coordinating the efforts of different departments of equal level under the same boss.
ii. It removes duplication of work and thus minimizing the wastage of time, money, labour and materials.
The following are the disadvantages of horizontal communication:
i. Sometimes it lacks co-ordination among different departments.
ii. It affects the productivity and efficiency of the organization adversely.
3. Communication on the Basis of Way of Expression:
On the basis of Way of expressions, communication may be oral/written.
(a) Oral/Verbal Communication:
Transmission with the help of spoken words is a common system of communication. In oral communication, both parties of the process exchange their ideas through oral words either in face to face situation or through any mechanical device such as telephone etc., meetings, lectures conferences are other media of such communication.
Advantages of Oral Communication:
i. It saves time and money.
ii. It is more effective communication system. Gestures tones and facial expressions make the communication effective and efficient.
iii. The parties concerned can easily exchange their thoughts and feelings. They can know reactions of each other immediately and can remove the doubts, if any, in the minds of any party.
iv. It is the only way out during the periods of emergency.
v. Effectiveness of the communication may be measured immediately and conveniently. The communicator can determine instantaneously whether, the receiver is following him or not.
vi. This helps in improving the motivation of people and generating a feeling of participation.
Disadvantages of Oral Communication:
Oral Communication however, is not suitable in the following cases:
i. Where the message to be conveyed is too lengthy to clarify the oral communication is not suitable?
ii. The impact of verbal communication is purely temporary and there is no documentary proof of such communication.
iii. Serious thought is not possible because the receiver is to take immediate decision in response of the communication received from the sender.
iv. There is every possibility that spoken words are not clearly heard or understood or may be taken in some other sense. It is very often possible in communication through mechanical devices.
Thus, the use of oral communication is very limited.
(b) Written Communication:
When communication is reduced to black and white, it is called written communication. This includes written words, graphs, charts, diagrams, pictures, etc. this is the most common form of communication used in the organization. A written communication helps in determining responsibility.
Written communication bears the following advantages:
i. Where message is too lengthy and meant for a large number of persons, written communication is the only way out.
ii. Policy matters, service conditions, secret orders and instructions, etc. can only be satisfactorily and effectively communicated through written communication because they are necessary for future references.
iii. Written communication gives time to the recipient to think, analyse and then decide the cause of action.
iv. It reduces disputes, jurisdictional friction and back passing etc.
v. Written communication has permanent effect on the recipient.
Written communication suffers from the following disadvantages:
i. It is costly and time consuming
ii. Everything cannot be put in black and white.
iii. The written communication cannot remain confidential because it passes through many hands.
iv. It is not flexible and results in red-tapism.
Improving Written Communication:
Following guidelines to be kept in mind to bring improvement in written communication:
(i) Use simple words and phrases.
(ii) Use personal pronouns such as “you” whenever appropriate.
(iii) Use short and familiar words.
(iv) Use short sentence and paragraph.
(v) Give illustrations and examples.
(vi) Make use of charts, models, graphs and computer and power point presentation.
(vii) Avoid unnecessary words and lengthy paragraphs.
Concept of ‘KISS’ in Communication:
Here ‘KISS’ means communicator should ‘keep it simple and short’.
There are six principles to select words for effective messages:
1. Choose Understandable Words:
This is supposed to be the first principle in word selection i.e., choose such words which can be understandable very easily by the receiver.
2. Use Specific, Precise Words:
When you send message always keep in mind that words should be clear and the receiver may not have any question in his mind about the intended meaning. This, words should be clear and precise so that receiver can understand very easily.
3. Choose Strong Words:
A strong word is that word which creates a vivid image in the receivers mind. For instance, in English language verbs are most stronger than nouns.
4. Emphasize Positive Words:
These strong words create a confidence in the mind of receiver. Whereas, negative words trigger unpleasant emotions in the receiver. Positive words create a favourable relationship, desired response and it gives strong emphasis for achievement of communication goals.
5. Avoid Overused Words:
It is that word which losses effectiveness because it has been used too much in normal conversation or in written messages. Thus, keep your message interesting by avoiding over used words.
6. Avoid Obsolete Words:
An obsolete word is that which is out of date, dull or stiff. Such words should be avoided in business communication.