Formal Communication vs. Informal Communication

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

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formal communication vs informal communication

Contents: Difference between Formal Communication and Informal Communication

Comparison Chart

BasisFormal CommunicationInformal Communication
DefinitionA communication that is made according to pre-defined channels set by organization is called formal communicationA communication that is made without following any pre-defined channels is known as informal communication.
PurposeTo exchange information among various divisions or departments of an organizationTo maintain the relationships inside and outside of an organization
TypesClassified into two types: vertical, horizontal and diagonalNo classification. Can be in any direction
FrequencyIt frequently occurs inside the organization to perform organizational activitiesOccurs less frequently in the internal communication environment
ReliabilityMore reliable as backed by the standard proceduresComparatively less
SpeedSlowVery fast
EvidenceAs it is generally written so, there is always documentary evidenceNo documentary evidence
Secrecy LevelSecrecy can be maintainedDifficult to maintain the secrecy
Time and CostTake much time and costDon’t rely on standard procedures so requires less time and cost
ImportanceNecessary to achieve organizational goalsNecessary to improve personal relation
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What is Formal Communication?

Formal communication is a communication system where communication between sender and recipients is based on the officially designated channels and systems. In an organizational, business and formal environment, formal communication is described as the sending and receiving of official documents, letters, memos, reports, policy manuals, etc. It is backed by the authorized organizational structures and guidelines to ensure that everyone in the organization understands them.

Three types of formal communication are vertical, horizontal and diagonal. Sensitive information that is only intended for the receiver should be communicated in a formal communication environment. One of the major advantages of formal communication is that it is always backed by a written document or any other documentary evidence. One of the major drawbacks of formal communication is that it took too much time in case of passing out the problems that need an immediate solution. Overall, it has a great influence on the organizational structure. Employees are bound to follow it while performing their duties.

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Formal Communication

What is Informal Communication?

Informal communication that is also called as grapevine is typically used for personal communication with friends and family members. It is usually held in face to face communication or talking with someone over a telephone call or message. As compared to formal communication, it has no official recognition at all and not backed by any specified communication principles of an organization. However, it is said to be the best means to keep the mood and environment light and have everyone enjoying their time together. This type of communication is entirely based on informal or personal relations with someone and for the same reason is free from all kind of organizational formalities and conventional rules.

As compared to formal communication, informal communication has no proper classification, thus for the same reason, it freely travels in all directions. One of the major disadvantages of informal communication is that any written document does not back it, and evidence so cannot be proved in time of need. On the other hand, the major advantage of informal communication is that it travels at the fast speed of making a decision at the eleventh hour.

Informal Communication

Key Differences between Formal Communication and Informal Communication

  1. Formal communication requires adherence to organizational rules and regulations while in informal communication there is no requirement of following specific rules.
  2. Formal communication requires officials’ recognition whereas informal communication doesn’t require any officials’ recognition.
  3. A delegation of authority is possible in formal communication only.
  4. In the time of need, formal communication can be proved as it is always backed by the organization rules for communication. Informal communication can’t be proved.
  5. The scope of formal communication is restricted to the organizational environment only, while informal communication can be used in both professional settings with employees and with friends and family as well.
  6. Formal communication doesn’t use slang words whose usage is common in informal communication.
  7. Another name of formal communication is an official The another name of informal communication is a grapevine.
  8. Formal communication always follows a proper chain of command. Whereas informal communication can move freely in any direction.
  9. Formal communication is always written and in a documented format. Consequently, informal communication is always oral.
  10. Informal communication is rapid and quick as compared to the formal communication that is very slow.
  11. Formal communication is more reliable as compared to informal communication.
  12. Formal communication rules are set by the organization while informal communication starts itself by the employees.
  13. Formal communication is always backed by the documentary evidence whereas the supporting documents do not back informal communication.
  14. In formal communication, a long chain of commands exists that has no concept of informal communication.
  15. The commons examples of formal communication are business letters, memos, contracts, agreements, and reports. The common examples of informal communication are face to face discussions and telephone calls.

Video Explanation

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