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Informal Communication

What is Informal Communication?

Informal communication is a form of communication that is free from all kinds of formalities. It is not a planned communication and informal communication is also known as grapevine communication. In transmitting such kind of information no organizational channel is required. It arises from the natural desire of human beings to communicate when they are working together at a place.

It is established for societal affiliations of members in an organization and face-to-face discussions. It happens among friends and family.

This communication flows through informal channels and may or may not be related to work. Informal communication does not exist in the formal structure of the organization. Such communication is usually oral and may be conveyed even by a simple glance, gesture, smile, or silence.


Definition of Informal Communication

Some important definition of informal communication are as follows:

Informal communication is the takes place without regard to hierarchical or task requirements.

Bartol and Martin

Informal communication is the flow of information without regard for the formal organizational structure, hierarchical or reporting relationship.

Bovee

Characteristics of Informal Communication

The characteristics of informal communication are as follow:

Un-official

This communication flows through informal channels and may or may not be related to work. Informal communication does not exist in the formal structure of the organization.

Oral Way of Communication

The informal communication technique uses an oral way of communication rather than written communication.

Flexible

Informal communication is a form of communication that is free from all kinds of formalities. It is not a planned communication. That’s why it is more flexible than formal communication.

Rapid Communication

In informal communication information spread like wildfire as if spreading rumors. Not only this, people start adding something of their own which sometimes changes the real meaning of the massage.

Spontaneous

Informal communication is the process of spontaneous sharing of information between two or more people of different levels within the organizational structure.


Types of Informal Communication

The types of informal communication are as follows:

Single Strand Chain

A single Strand Chain is a type of Communication in which information is shared from one person to another in a single sequence. The first person shared information with the second person who in turn will communicate with the third person and so on.

For Example; Person A communicates with B, who then communicates with C, D, and so on, forming a chain of communication.

Gossip Chain

In a gossip network of communication, individuals can communicate with others by simply using one source of information. However, the information spreads rapidly to a group of people. That’s why a gossip chain network can be considered a group conversation because gossips mostly occur in groups. In a gossip chain, the conversation isn’t related to work.

Probability Chain

A probability Chain is a type of communication in which a person shares the same message with another person at random. In this process of communication, an individual does not follow any set standards and may discuss this information with anyone, whether he is a friend or just a casual acquaintance.

Cluster Chain

A cluster Chain network is the most reliable method of sharing information, in which individuals may pass the information to a select group of people, who will either keep the information to themselves or share it with their chosen group.

Circle

In the circle, a person passes the message to his corresponding two persons. He communicates with his neighboring two persons.


Role of Informal Communication In the Workplace

The role of grapevine or informal communication in the workplace is as follows:

Statutory Information

Information such as service orders, working hours, rules and regulations regarding the terms and conditions of the employment, etc. are to be communicated to the employees as a statutory requirement of information.

Work-Situation Information

The information regarding normal work situations has to be communicated through formal briefing sessions or through informal chat sessions between the managers and the group members.

Major Policy or Operational Change Information

Any major change in the organizational policy has to be communicated to all the people working in the organization by calling everyone or through notices to be read by all.

Information Bulletin

To keep the people informed about the events and the happenings taking place in the business organization, periodic information in the form of a newsletter is communicated to all employees of the organization. With the information bulletin the

Communication By Expectancy

Information on critical changes should be carefully and gradually communicated to those who are going to be directly affected by the decision. Before the decision is taken and implemented, the people concerned must be mentally prepared for the event. Involving their representative or head in every decision-making process can do this. This process is to create expectancy in the receiver who would be less shocked by a negative communication and its eventuality.


Advantages and Disadvantages of Grapevine or Informal Communication

Advantages of Grapevine Communication

Disadvantages of Grapevine Communication

Advantages of Grapevine Communication

The advantages of informal communication are given below:

  • Present grievance: Under the informal system the employees disclose their needs, sentiment, and their emotions to others’ authority without feeling any hesitation.

  • Alternate system: The management is sometimes not able to reach all information by the formal system. The informal system covers the gap in the formal system.

  • Improved relationships: Any problem between the workers and the management can be solved by the informal system. So it makes good relationships among the employees and the management.

  • Increase efficiency: Under the informal system, the employees discuss their problems openly and they can solve them. For this, the work is done properly and it develops the efficiency of the employee.

  • Providing recommendations: In this system, the employees inform their superiors about their demands, problem, and the way to develop the implementation system of the work. As a result, it creates an opportunity for sending the recommendations to the management.

  • Flexibility: Informal communication is more flexible than formal communication because it is free from all types of formalities.

  • Rapid communication: Informal communication transmits very fast. Especially, miss- information or rumor spread rapidly to others in the organization.

  • Improve interpersonal relationships: Cooperation and coordination in informal communication lead to improved interpersonal relationships, which is essential for carrying out business activities smoothly.

Disadvantages of Grapevine Communication

The disadvantages of informal communication are as follows:

  • Distort meaning: Something in the meaning and the subject matter of the information is distorted in this system.

  • Spreading rumor: In this system, misinformation or rumor spread rapidly. The original information may be transformed into wrong information.

  • Misunderstanding: Under this system, generally, the employees do not obey the formal authorization system. So it creates the opportunity to develop misunderstandings.

  • Maintaining secrecy is impossible: In an informal communication system, maximum communication is made by open discussion. So, it is impossible to maintain the secrecy of the information.

  • Difficulty in controlling: Under an informal communication system, no established rules or policy is obeyed. So, it is very difficult to control the information.

  • Non-cooperation: Informal communication system sometimes develops the adversary culture among the employees. So, they are not cooperative with each other and their efficiency may be reduced.

Importance of Informal Communication

The importance of grapevine or informal communication are:

  • Develops friendly relations among employees.

  • It is faster than formal communication.

  • It provides feedback for policies of management as employees express frank opinions.

  • Carries a lot of information and may develop the growth of the organization.

  • It helps in improving decision-making in the organization as many people give their suggestions.

Difference between Formal and Informal Communication

BasisFormal CommunicationInformal Communication
Chain of CommandIt follows the official chain of command.It flows outside the official chain of command.
Mode of CommunicationIt is mostly written communication. Because it is a formal communication that requires proof of data.Informal communication is generally oral. Because it involves unofficial communication that does not require any proof of data.
Speed of CommunicationThe process of communication is slow. It involves some formalities to follow. Because It is a planned communication.Communication moves faster here. Because it is free from all kinds of formalities. It is not a planned communication.
AuthenticityIn formal communication the messages are authentic.The messages may or may not be authentic in informal communication.
Fulfillment of NeedsFormal communication serves organizational needs.It serves the organizational and social needs of employees.
Difference between Formal and Informal Communication

FAQs Related to Informal Communication

What is Grapevine Communication?

An informal network of communication in an organization is called Grapevine. For example, people working together have common interests and discuss about appointments, promotions, demotions, or even domestic and romantic affairs with one another.

What is single-strand chain communication?

A single Strand Chain is a type of Communication in which information is shared from one person to another in a single sequence. The first person shared information with the second person who in turn will communicate with the third person and so on.

What is cluster chain communication?

A cluster Chain network is the most reliable method of sharing information, in which individuals may pass the information to a select group of people, who will either keep the information to themselves or share it with their chosen group.

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