Informal communication is a form of sharing information in more casual forms. Usually it is personal conversation with friends or family. In case of business communication it includes conversations, e-mails, text messages, phone calls, networking, etc. It is sometimes called grapevine.
Informal communication exists in every company apart from formal communication. Formal communication has own limitations when comes to quick decision making, change management, crisis management. Moreover, it isn't efficient in case of extended consultation process. The informal communication works best when used in consultation process, collecting opinions of different employees, exploring moods of different groups in the company.
Informal communication exists independently of other communication routes. Therefore, it cannot be easily managed. Managers can pass or get informal information, but it's not the only way the information goes. Managers should be aware of multiple routes of informal communication in order to use them in management process.
Informal communication is based on common, informal, conversational language. It is connected with language which people use every day (A. Gretry, C. Horváth, N. Belei, A. C. R. van Riel 2017).
Informal communication in an organization
Informal communication is needed to achieve the satisfaction of communication, in the same still as formal communication. In a life of organization informal communication's role is also unavoidable as the same in case of formal communication. Social relationship are basis of this type of communication. Particularly, informal communication's source are personal goals of employees. Satisfaction of employees is caused by informal communication due to fact that they can discuss about their jobs, attitudes and about personal and discretionary topics. This type of communication would be a great origin of knowledge about employees' moral attitudes and their difficulties which are helpful in employees successful leading. Information which is communicated by formal communication is either deficient or equivocal while information communicated by informal channels usually does not have such features. However, in case of not obtaining adequate information by formal communication employees count on informal system. When employees are in situations that they feel under threat, insecure, stressed and always when is possibility of pending change and eventually, when communicating with management is restricted, employees are more likely to depend on a grapevine (N.Sheykh Al Eslami Kandlousi, A. J. Ali, A. Abdollahi 2010).
Advantages of informal communication at work
Informal communication may be a very important element in team work. It helps in sharing work important information among people in work, coordinates team activities, makes prospective opportunities of collaboration. What is more it have also functions which are social like sharing an office culture, feeling connection between employees- this issue can lead in the future to a very positive resonances like helping someone at work. Informal communication with co-workers is very beneficial due to possibility of obtain important information which employees then have for their personal use at work. Staying in touch with co-workers from other business units can help employees obtain new information and knowledge about their jobs, achieve dissimilar point of view for their own job (D. Zhao, M. B. Rosson 2009).
Examples of Informal communication
- Text messages: Text messages are a common way of informal communication. They are used to share information and updates with friends, family, co-workers, and acquaintances. Messages sent via text can range from simple greetings to more complex updates and conversations.
- Phone calls: Phone calls are another popular form of informal communication. They are used to have personal conversations with friends, family, and co-workers. Phone calls can range from quick check-ins to more in-depth conversations.
- Networking: Networking is a way to build connections with other people. It can be done in person or online, and it typically involves meeting new people, exchanging contact information, and discussing potential opportunities.
- Social media: Social media is a form of informal communication that is growing in popularity. It is used to share information with a wide variety of people, including friends, family, co-workers, and acquaintances. Popular social media platforms include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
Limitations of Informal communication
Informal communication has several limitations that should be considered when using it as a form of communication. These include:
- Misinterpretation of messages - as there is no formal structure and set of rules, informal communication can easily lead to miscommunication and misinterpretation of messages.
- Lack of accountability - as there is no formal structure, informal communication can easily be used to spread rumors and false information without any accountability.
- Limited scope - informal communication is limited in its scope and cannot be used in situations that require greater detail and accuracy than what can be provided through informal communication.
- Potential for misunderstanding - informal communication can lead to misunderstandings, as people may interpret messages differently and have different levels of understanding.
- Lack of records - informal communication does not leave any records or evidence, so it is difficult to refer back to it or verify the accuracy of information.
- Gretry A., Horváth C., Belei N., C.R.vanRiel A (2017). “Don't pretend to be my friend!” When an informal brand communication style backfires on social media, "Journal of Business Research", No. 74.
- Sheykh Al Eslami Kandlousi N., 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", Vol. 5, No. 10.
- Zhao, D., & Rosson, M. B. (2009, May). How and why people Twitter: the role that micro-blogging plays in informal communication at work. In Proceedings of the ACM 2009 international conference on Supporting group work (p. 243-252). ACM.
Author: Justyna Kulesa