Interactive Communication

Interactive communication is beneficial when communication is necessary between peers involved in tasks that require coordinated effort. However, if they are not involved in tasks that require coordinated effort, interactive communication would result in reduced productivity. Interactive communication among peers may also affect vertical communication in a negative way. Employees at each level may communicate freely among themselves but fail to communicate upward and downward.

The main aims of interactive communication are:
1. Task coordination
2. Problem solving
3. Information sharing, and
4. Conflict resolution

There are two main types of interactive communication:
1. Networks: A network is a group of people who develop and maintain contact with each other to exchange information of common interest in an informal manner. A person who is actively involved in information exchange is said to be networking. Networks can be both internal and external to an organization. Internal networks consist of employees from different departments and business units. Networks that extend beyond the company to business partners, customers and sometimes even competitors are external networks. External networks are formed when employees attend social clubs, professional groups and other similar associations.

Networks enable employees to widen their interests and get information relating to recent developments in their field. A good networker can get access to powerful and influential people if they have certain interests in common. Effective networks can help develop productive working relationships that may result in enhanced job performance.

2. Grapevine communication: It supplements the formal channels of communication and provides information, which is not communicated through the latter. It provides information on the unwritten rules of the organization and important management decisions (well before they are implemented). Managers generally do not use the grapevine as a source of information. However, they try to keep track of the information passing through the grapevine through their loyal subordinates. This helps managers identify the issues that cause anxiety to employees. They can send a message that alleviates their fears and reduces their anxiety. Managers thus use the grapevine as a filter and feedback mechanism to eliminate rumours and prevent their negative impact on organizational performance.

The important characteristics of a grapevine are:
a. It is beyond the control of the management.
b. It is considered more reliable by the employees than the formal communication channels, and
c. Employees mostly use it to serve their personal and social interests.

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