Maintaining good communication within an organization is absolutely crucial if we want that organization to flourish. There are many different types of organizational communication. However, all types of organization communication have this in common: they help members of an organization to work well together, and they help to prevent and heal any disputes or moments of discord that arise.
What is organizational communication?
Organizational communication means communication among people in an organization. To understand to meaning of the term, ‘organizational communication’, let us first analyze the meaning of related terms such as ‘organization’, ‘organize’, ‘organization, and ‘communication.
An ‘organization’ is a group of people who are working together towards a common goal – or for a particular purpose. These people are said to be ‘organized’. In order for these people to work together, they need to be able to communicate their aims and intentions – and also any challenges or problems that arise.
The word ‘organize’ comes from the Latin ‘organum’, which means ‘instrument’ or ‘tool’. This etymology shows that an organization is all about creating a group of people who work together like a living instrument to get a certain job done.
The word ‘organizational’ comes from the Latin word ‘organisare’. Organisare means to work, or to work together as part of a system. From the nineteenth century onward, the word organization came to mean, specifically, a business establishment. So, organizational means relating to a business establishment.
The word ‘communcation’ comes from the Latin word’ communicare’. This word means to share. So, communication is all about sharing information. Communication can take many forms. For example, verbal communication is communication using words (for example in a face to face meeting). Written communication, on the other hand, can take the form of a letter, a memo or an email.
So, in sum, organization communication means the sharing of information between people in a business establishment. It is this type of communication that enables the organization to stay organized.
Types of Organizational Communication
Formal and Informal.
Formal communication usually involves set patterns and rules. Think of a formal letter, for example: you need to know where to put the date and your address, how to address your recipient and so on. It is important to use polite, formal language during moments of formal communication, whether that means saying ‘Sir’ and ‘Madam’ or whether it just means avoiding colloquialisms and overly familiar turns of phrase. You will probably use formal communication when talking to your boss, certain clients and so on.
Informal communication is more free and colloquial and certainly has its place within an organization as it enables employees to address each other on a more casual level. There are still rules for informal communication, though: for instance, it is always important to be kind and considerate, even when communicating informally.
Internal and External Communication.
Internal communication is when you communicate to other people within the organization. There are also several forms of internal communication, and often this takes place vertically up and down a hierarchy as employees communicate with a board of directors. An organization may also have dedicated marketing channels which communicates the organization’s advertising and branding strategy to employees who have not worked on it directly.
External communication is when you communicate to people outside the organization, such as clients or potential employees (the latter may communicate with you during a recruitment drive, for example).
Let us develop the idea of external communication a little more, as there are several distinct forms that this can take and it is useful to know the technical terms for them. Communication between different businesses is often referred to as ‘B2B’ communication – this stands for ‘business to business’. Likewise, you may also hear people talk of ‘B2C’ (‘business to consumer’) and ‘B2G’ (‘business to general public’) communication. B2G communication often takes the form of marketing and advertisement, as companies try to encourage members of the public to buy their products and services.
One important thing to bear in mind regarding the difference between internal and external communication is privacy. Some information needs to be kept within an organization (financial information, for example), and should not be communicated to people outside the organization.
Verbal, non verbal and visual.
When we think of the word ‘communication’, we often think of people discussing things face to face. Verbal communication in an organization involves the use of words, whether spoken or written, and can be of various types such as talking to a colleague, video-conference, writing a formal letter, delivering a speech, giving instructions, etc. Verbal communication is certainly very important within any organization as it enables employees to talk with each other and their employers to share information, to receive feedback on their progress and so on.
There are also other types of information that are just as important. For example, non-verbal communication such as ‘body language’ doesn’t involve words but can influence the way that people think of us. If our body language is respectful, positive and confident we may well increase our chances of clinching that deal or getting that raise.
If our body language is too overbearing, or by contrast too cold and uninterested, we will not come across very well in an organization. Try saying ‘lovely to meet you’ whilst sneering at someone and turning your back to them – it doesn’t give the impression that you are pleased to meet them at all, does it? That is why non verbal communication is so important! We might also call this ‘visual communication‘. And, we can extend the idea of visual communication to things like adhering to a smart dress code and presenting all of our reports neatly.
Interpersonal communication simply involves people engaging with each other on a face to face, or human to human level. It includes communications that takes place with the help of technologies such as e-mail, webinar, etc. In a business organization, chief officers and managers are expected to give instructions in a clear fashion. If the interpersonal communication skills of a manager is weak, he will not be able to get the best out of his subordinates. This is the type of communication you may also use with friends and acquaintances (though you may, of course, need to be more formal in an organizational context). Thus, developing your interpersonal communication skills is a great idea if you want to do well in other areas of life as well – such as forging friendships.
We have all heard the phrase, ‘I heard it on the grapevine’. This means that we heard something through gossip, passed from person to person, and we are not entirely sure what the source of the rumor is. Though most organizations to have some kind of grapevine at work, it is important not to trust information that you have simply heard via hearsay. And, of course, it is important not to create or to spread any malicious gossip around the workplace. Instead, be a supportive colleague and encourage your coworkers, giving constructive criticism when necessary but never talking about people unkindly behind their backs.
There are many different types of organizational communication. Organizational communication can be internal or external, verbal or visual, interpersonal or indirect (this latter is also known as ‘the grapevine’). How many of these forms of communication have you mastered?
Being a good communicator will enable you to be a good team player. And this will help your organization to work efficiently and congenially, meeting its stated aims with ease. Brushing up on your communication skills endows you with a valuable ability that you can use in any aspect of life, not just at work.