Formal vs Informal Communication | Board Infinity (2024)

Communication plays a key role in our life, as people interchange their views and thoughts by communicating. It is a core tool that plays an important role even in the growth of the organization.

In an organization, there are two channels of communication - formal and informal. The main difference between the two is that formal communication is backed by predefined channels while there is no such rule for informal communication.

People often confuse these two. To help you understand, we have come up with an article which will clear all your doubts between formal and informal communication.

Formal vs Informal Communication | Board Infinity (1)

What is Formal Communication?

The communication in which information flows through proper and pre-defined solutions is referred to as Formal Communication. It follows a hierarchical chain that is generally established by the organization itself.

This type of communication is a must in the workplace because employees are expected to follow formal communication while performing their duties. Some general examples of formal communication are reports, commands, orders, etc.

Types of Formal Communication

1. Vertical

In this type of formal communication, information exchange takes place at different organizational levels. Either the communication takes place from superior authority to subordinate or vice-versa.

It is also classified into two types:

  • Bottom-up: Communication flow is from subordinate to superior authority.
  • Top-down: Communication flow is from superior authority to subordinate.

2. Lateral or Horizontal

This type of communication takes place between two employees of the same level but working in different departments.

For example, communication that takes place between the Sales Manager and Human Resource Manager.

3. Diagonal or Crosswise

This type of communication takes place between employees of different departments working at different levels.

For example, communication between Salesman and Manufacturing manager.

What is Informal Communication?

Informal communication is multidimensional, it flows freely in the organization without any restraint of predefined channels or routes. It is comparatively very quick and relational.

In organizations it is often called the ‘grapevine’. It is also important for the growth of a company because employees can discuss work-related issues more openly which ultimately saves the company’s time and money.

Some general examples are - chats between team members, a private journal or diary, etc.

Types of Informal Communication

1. Single Strand Chain

The communication in which one person tells something to another who again says something to another person and the process continues.

2. Cluster Chain

In this type of informal communication, one person tells something to some of his friends then they circulate that among their close friends and the process goes on.

3. Probability Chain

In this type, one person randomly chooses some persons and transfers information to them and they also do the same later on.

4. Gossip Chain

This type of communication is very common in an organization, where a person tells something to a group of people then they also spread it further to another group of people till it gets passed to everyone.

Key Differences Between Formal and Informal Communication

  1. A set of commands is followed for formal communication whereas informal communication can move freely in all directions.
  2. Formal communication is time-consuming, whereas it costs less time for informal communication.
  3. Formal communication has its scope restricted within the organization whereas informal communication has no boundary.
  4. A high level of secrecy is maintained for formal communication, whereas it’s not guaranteed for informal communication.
  5. Formal communication is designed at the organizational level whereas informal communication occurs naturally.
  6. Documentary evidence is always available for formal communication whereas there are no supporting documents available for informal communication.
  7. Slang words are never used in formal communication while they can be used in informal communication.
  8. Formal communication is also known as official communication and informal communication is also known as grapevine communication.
  9. Examples of formal communication are - business letters, reports, orders, etc. while examples of informal communication are face-to-face communication, telephonic conversations, etc.
  10. Generally, documentation happens for formal communication whereas no documentation happens for informal communication.
  11. Formal communication has a long chain of command whereas informal communication is very simple due to its short chain of command.
  12. The main motive of formal communication is to fulfill organizational objectives whereas informal communication is intended to meet personal interests and needs.

Wrapping Up

In this blog, we have discussed the differences between Formal and Informal Communication. We sincerely hope that this blog gives you a quick glimpse of the difference between the types of communication.

Most organizations have their channel of formal communication however, informal communication will always be there and is mostly used by the employees at the operational level which is essential for the overall growth of the company.

If you want to upskill your communications skills, do checkout Board Infinity’s where you can learn at your own pace and get 1-on-1 guidance from the experts.

Formal vs Informal Communication | Board Infinity (2024)


Formal vs Informal Communication | Board Infinity? ›

Key Differences Between Formal and Informal Communication

What is the difference between formal and informal communication? ›

Formal communication is typically written or documented, whereas informal communication is primarily oral or nonverbal. Formal communication conveys official information, policies, or decisions, while informal communication facilitates social bonding and sharing personal experiences.

What are the 4 types of informal communication? ›

Types of Informal Communication

Employees can use it to communicate about critical business issues, share things from their personal life, or build workplace bonding. The four types of informal communication are gossip chain, cluster chain, probability chain, and single-strand chain.

What are the formal and informal lines of communication? ›

Examples of formal communication channels are memos, reports, newsletters, contracts, performance reviews, and emails. Informal communication channels are the ones that occur spontaneously, casually, and without following any specific protocol.

What is formal and informal communication in PMP? ›

A lot of communication on a project is written. This can be formal, such as contracts, status reports, defect lists, project plans, and project documents. Written communication can also be informal, such as a brief note to a team member, an inquiry via e-mail, or a follow-up reminder that something is due soon.

What is formal and informal examples? ›

Informal: The balloon was blown up for the experiment. Formal: The balloon was inflated for the experiment. Informal: The patient got over his illness. Formal: The patient recovered from his illness.

What are 3 differences between formal and informal writing? ›

Formal language is characterized by the use of standard English, more complex sentence structures, infrequent use of personal pronouns, and lack of colloquial or slang terms. Informal language allows the use of nonstandard English forms, colloquial vocabulary and typically shorter sentence structures.

What is a common example of informal communication? ›

One of the great informal communication examples is to think of it like a conversation between a family at a dinner table. Any child can turn to the mom or dad of the family (or the boss of the company) and casually ask them questions about something they brought up in a family meeting.

What is the best example of informal communication? ›

Some examples of informal communication include:
  • catching up with colleagues over coffee.
  • chatting with colleagues around the office.
  • group chats with colleagues on Slack.
  • networking at industry events or work social events.
  • phoning clients to check-in.
  • sending a friendly email to colleagues.
Sep 30, 2022

What are the two main types of formal communication? ›

Vertical Communication: It is communication among individuals or groups, where the information flows across hierarchical levels within the organization. It is further classified as: 2. Downward Communication: It is the information flow from the top-level executives to the bottom-level employees.

What is the disadvantage of informal communication? ›

Disadvantages of Informal Communication

It creates rumors and misinformation that spreads quickly. It's an informal channel of communication that does not follow the established chain of command. It transmits inaccurate information and can sometimes be hurtful to certain employees and to the organization.

What is informal communication in simple words? ›

Informal communication refers to the communication that flows without following the formal defined path. An informal communication system is also known as grapevine. Under informal communication, a piece of information flows in all directions without paying any heed to the level or authority.

What are the barriers that affect communication? ›

Although the barriers to effective communication may be different for different situations, the following are some of the main barriers:
  • Linguistic Barriers.
  • Psychological Barriers.
  • Emotional Barriers.
  • Physical Barriers.
  • Cultural Barriers.
  • Organisational Structure Barriers.
  • Attitude Barriers.
  • Perception Barriers.

What are formal communication skills? ›

Formal communication is exchanging official information between two or more people within the same organization, by following predefined rules and using official channels of communication. Mostly, it is done in written form.

What is formal communication advantages and disadvantages? ›

Formal communication is also known as official communication. Informal communication is also known as the grapevine communication. Formal communication enhances reliability within the workplace. Informal communication is less reliable. Formal communication is a slow process.

What is the difference between you formal and informal? ›

When you're learning another language, figuring out when to use the formal “you” and the informal “you” is important. The distinction varies based on language and context, but the general rule is that you use the informal “you” with anyone who you feel close with, whether they be a friend, a parent or a colleague.

What is the difference between formal and informal definition? ›

A formal definition requires three parts: the term, the general group in which it belongs, and the difference between it and all other items in the same group.] An informal definition is a synonym, usually placed in parentheses, which explains an unfamiliar term like jargon that interferes with reading a sentence.

What is the difference between formal and informal communication quizlet? ›

Formal and informal communication channels can be distinguished by formal communication involving making use of the official communication channels of a business and with informal communication channels involving the business making use of official means of exchanging information: with the similarities of exchanging of ...

What is the difference between formal and informal words? ›

More formal vocabulary commonly involves longer words or words with origins in Latin and Greek. More informal vocabulary commonly involves shorter words, or words with origins in Anglo-Saxon. Most dictionaries indicate very informal and/or formal words.

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