Formal and informal communication
Formal communication is the official way of transmitting information within an organization. It follows rules and procedures and is done through official documents, emails, memos, reports and other written or verbal communication. It is used to deliver messages from management to staff and to ensure that information is communicated accurately and quickly.
Informal communication is an unofficial way of exchanging information between people in an organization. It includes casual conversations, gossip, chit-chat and other non-structured ways of communicating. It is often used to build relationships and is an important part of a healthy workplace.
Example of formal and informal communication
- Meeting: A formal meeting between employees and management to discuss and make decisions on important topics.
- Memo: A written document used to convey information and instructions to employees.
- Email: An electronic communication sent to multiple people, often with attachments.
- Reports: Documents outlining specific topics, with data and analysis.
- Presentations: Formal talks given to an audience, with slides, videos and other visuals.
- Casual Conversation: Conversations between colleagues about their day or other topics.
- Gossip: Rumors and hearsay about people or events in the workplace.
- Chit-Chat: Small talk between colleagues to build relationships and establish trust.
- Brainstorming Sessions: Unstructured meetings between colleagues to come up with ideas and solutions.
- Social Media: Use of online communication platforms to exchange information and ideas.
Best practices of formal and informal communication
- Establish a clear communication strategy to ensure that all stakeholders are informed.
- Utilize multiple platforms such as emails, memos, reports and other written documents to keep everyone in the loop.
- Provide timely updates to ensure that all stakeholders are aware of project progress and any changes.
- Ensure that messages are clear, concise and consistent to minimize confusion.
- Allow for feedback from stakeholders to ensure that everyone is informed and engaged.
- Utilize a chain of command to ensure that communication is delivered to the right people.
- Encourage open dialogue between all stakeholders to build relationships and foster collaboration.
- Utilize informal conversations, such as informal meetings, coffee breaks and social events, to foster a sense of community.
- Utilize informal communication to build trust and better understand the needs of stakeholders.
- Allow for feedback and discussion to ensure that all stakeholders’ opinions are heard and taken into consideration.
- Encourage collaboration and creativity to ensure that all stakeholders are involved in the process.
- Utilize informal communication to build relationships and work towards a common goal.
When to use formal and informal communication
Formal communication is used when transmitting important information, such as instructions and policies, to ensure accuracy and clarity. It is also used for communicating formally with external stakeholders, such as customers and suppliers. Informal communication is used for casual conversations and to build relationships within an organization. It is often used for exchanging ideas and feedback, as well as for listening to what employees have to say.
- Formal communication is used to convey official messages from management to staff, such as instructions and policies.
- It is also used for communicating with external stakeholders, such as customers and suppliers.
- Informal communication is used to build relationships within an organization and exchange ideas and feedback.
- It is also used for casual conversations and to listen to what employees have to say.
Types of formal and informal communication
Formal communication includes a variety of methods used to transmit information within an organization. These include documents, emails, memos, reports and other written or verbal communication. Informal communication includes less structured methods such as conversations, gossip and chit-chat.
- Formal Communication:
- Documents: Documents are a common form of formal communication used to communicate essential information. They can include emails, memos, reports and other written materials.
- Emails: Emails are an important form of formal communication used to quickly disseminate information.
- Memos: Memos are short messages used to communicate important information within an organization.
- Reports: Reports are longer documents that provide detailed information on a specific topic.
- Informal Communication:
- Conversations: Conversations are a common form of informal communication used to build relationships and exchange information.
- Gossip: Gossip is an informal way of sharing information, often used to build relationships and gain insight into the organization.
- Chit-chat: Chit-chat is a casual form of communication used to exchange ideas and information in a relaxed atmosphere.
Advantages of formal and informal communication
Formal and informal communication both have advantages in the workplace.
- Formal communication provides clear and accurate information. It is structured and regulated, and is often recorded in writing so that it can be referred to in the future. It is also more reliable and consistent, and helps to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
- Informal communication is more efficient and allows for faster information exchange. It is also more personal and encourages a sense of camaraderie and teamwork. It is also helpful for building relationships and fostering trust between people.
Limitations of formal and informal communication
Formal and informal communication each have their advantages and disadvantages. The following are some of the limitations of formal and informal communication:
- Formal communication can be slow, as it follows a set of rules and procedures and requires approval from multiple levels. This can lead to delays in getting messages to the intended recipients.
- Informal communication is often less structured, so messages can be misinterpreted or misunderstood.
- Formal communication can be impersonal, reducing the chances of developing a personal connection between the sender and the receiver.
- Informal communication can be unreliable and can lead to rumors and inaccurate information being spread.
- Formal communication can be overly bureaucratic and can limit creativity and critical thinking.
- Informal communication can lead to negative relationships and can be used to spread gossip or slander.
In addition to formal and informal communication, there are other approaches that can be used to exchange information in an organization.
- Interpersonal communication - This includes face-to-face conversations between two or more people, where information is exchanged. It can be used to build relationships, resolve conflicts and provide feedback.
- Group communication - This is when information is shared among a large group of people, such as in meetings or presentations. It can be used to disseminate information to a large audience, as well as facilitate collaboration and brainstorming.
- Electronic communication - This includes emails, text messages, video calls and other forms of digital communication. It can be used to quickly exchange information with multiple people and can be used to stay in touch with colleagues who are located remotely.
- Social media - This includes platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. It is used to share information with a large group of people and to engage with customers, employees and stakeholders.
Overall, there are various approaches to communication in an organization, which can be used to share information and build relationships. Formal and informal communication are important, but there are other methods that can also be used to effectively exchange information.
|Formal and informal communication — recommended articles|
|Business communication process — Process of business communication — Exchange of information — Sharing of information — Line of communication — Internal and external communication — Communication process — Types of business communication — Communication and collaboration|
- Johnson, J. D., Donohue, W. A., Atkin, C. K., & Johnson, S. (1994). Differences between formal and informal communication channels. The Journal of Business Communication (1973), 31(2), 111-122.
- Kandlousi, N. S. A. E., Ali, A. J., & Abdollahi, A. (2010). Organizational citizenship behavior in concern of communication satisfaction: The role of the formal and informal communication. International Journal of Business and Management, 5(10), 51.
- Fish, R. S., Kraut, R. E., & Chalfonte, B. L. (1990, September). The VideoWindow system in informal communication. In Proceedings of the 1990 ACM conference on Computer-supported cooperative work (pp. 1-11).