15 Important Difference between Formal and Informal Communication

What is the difference between formal and informal communication?

Communication is a core tool that plays a crucial role not only in people’s lives but also the growth of organizations. It is grouped as formal and informal communication.

The main difference between informal and formal communication is that formal communication is always backed by pre-defined channels of communication while there are no rules set for informal communication.

The lesson offers the core difference between formal and informal communication with comparison table and video. Let’s have a look at each category.

Difference between Formal and Informal Communication

What Is Formal Communication?

Formal communication is a type of communication that flows through predefined channels throughout the organization.

The type of communication is quite common in the workplace where employees are required to follow when performing their duties. Examples are Requests, commands, orders, reports etc.

Formal communication is further grouped into:

  1. Upward or Bottom-up is where the flow of communication move from subordinate to superior authority.
  2. Downward or Top-down is where the flow of communication start from superior in authority to subordinate
  3. Horizontal or Lateral is communication between employees of different departments.
  4. Crosswise or Diagonal is communication between employees of two departments working at different levels

What Is Informal Communication?

Informal communication is a type of communication that flows in any direction. The information moves freely within the organization. The flow of information is quite fast and rapid.

The type of communication enables people to interact naturally despite their professional life, personal life and other matters. Examples are sharing of feelings, casual discussion, gossips, etc.

Informal communication is further grouped into:

  1. Single Strand Chain is communication where one tells another information and the person tells another person again. It is informed of gossip.
  2. Cluster Chain is where a person tells information to some most trusted people. These people later tell their best friends and communication continues.
  3. Probability Chain is a form of communication where one person chooses another person to pass some information which is of less importance.
  4. Gossip Chain is where a person tells information to a group of people who later pass information to another large group of people.

Comparison Chart: Formal Vs Informal Communication

Basic TermsFormal CommunicationInformal Communication
DefinitionIt is a type of communication made according to predefined channels set by the organizationIt is a type of communication where the exchange of information does not follow predefined channels
Alternative NameOfficial CommunicationGrapevine communication
ReliabilityMoreComparatively less
SpeedSlowVery Fast
Core PurposeExchange of vital information among various departmentsMaintain relationship inside and outside the organization
TypesUpward or bottom-up, downward or top-down, horizontal for lateral and crosswise or diagonal communicationSingle strand chain, cluster chain, probability chain, and gossip chain.
FrequencyOccur frequently inside the organization to enhance the performance of dutiesOccurs less frequently in the internal communication environment
EvidenceThere are documentaries since it is writtenNo documentaries
Secrecy LevelTend to be maintainedDifficult to maintained
Time and CostRequire a lot of time and moneyLess time and cost since no standard procedures to be followed

Read More: Difference between Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication

Core Difference Between Formal and Informal Communication

  1. The alternative name for formal communication is official communication while that of informal communication is grapevine communication.
  2. Formal communication follows the certain set chain of command while informal communication moves freely in all direction.
  3. Formal communication help to maintain a high level of secrecy whereas no secrecy can be maintained under informal communication
  4. Informal communication tend to be oral whereas formal communication is written
  5. Formal communication tends to be time-consuming whereas informal communication is less time-consuming.
  6. Formal communication is quite reliable whereas informal communication is less reliable
  7. Formal communication is designed by the organization while informal communication occurs naturally.
  8. Documentation happens in formal communication whereas informal communication has no documentation.
  9. Formal communication has long-chain command whereas informal communication is quite simple due to short-chain command
  10. Examples of formal communications are business letters, memos, contracts, agreements, and reports whereas informal communication is face to face discussions and telephone calls.
  11. Formal communication tends to be quick and rapid whereas informal communication is comparatively slow
  12. Formal communication does not encourage the use of slang words while informal communication tends to encourage slang words.
  13. The scope of formal communication is restricted within the organization environment while that of informal communication is non-restricted.
  14. Formal communication encourage delegation of duties unlike formal communication
  15. Formal communication requires official recognition whereas informal communication does not require such recognition.

Comparison Video

Summary

Many transnational organizations tend to encourage both formal and informal communication since it is quite vital for decision making.

The article has provided thorough information about the difference between formal and informal communication. Use the comment section to share your views.

More Sources and References

  • https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/002194369403100202?journalCode=jobc
  • https://www.peoplegoal.com/blog/what-is-formal-and-informal-communication

 

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