Difference Between Formal Communication vs. Informal Communication

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Main Difference

Communication is one of the pivotal processes in our lives, through which one can exchange thoughts, information, feelings and much more. The means of communication keeps on changing with the advancement in technology, for example in 90’s telephones were mostly used for the communication, nowadays smartphones are widely used for the communication purpose. Mainly the communication can be of two types; verbal communication and non-verbal communication. In organizations, the mode of verbal communication is used for sharing of information or transfer of the message. Furthermore, the verbal communication is divided into two forms of communication; formal communication and informal communication. The communication in office or organization taking place through the officially designated channel or the pre-defined channel is known as the formal communication. On the other hand, the informal communication also takes place at the workplace in between the employees, although it doesn’t take place through the officially designated channels and the topic of discussion is broader as it can be gossip, a casual discussion, whether related to work or anything else.

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Comparison Chart

Formal CommunicationInformal Communication
DefinitionThe communication in office or organization taking place through the officially designated channel or the pre-defined channel is known as the formal communication.The informal communication also takes place at the workplace in between the employees, although it doesn’t take place through the officially designated channels and the topic of discussion is broader.
Also Known AsOffical CommunicationGrapevine Communication
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.
Form of CommunicationFormal communication is mostly in the written form.Informal communication is mostly in the oral form.
PrivacyPrivacy is maintained.No privacy is made while doing informal communication it can be done any time at any place.
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What is Formal Communication?

The formal communication is also known as the official communication as it takes place through the pre-planned or the officially designated mediums. The context of the conversation is also prepared before the communication and things mostly go in hierarchical order. The context of the conversation is already chosen in this form of communication and more work-oriented discussions are done. While doing this type of communication, a certain type of rules and regulations and conventions and styles are being followed. No slang language is used in the formal communication, and the conversation is mostly in the documented form as it is kept as the evidence for official purpose. The formal communication is a time-taking and reliable process, which can even be provided as evidence in the court. The doers in this type of communication assure the privacy and do not leak the information. The orders, requests, commands and reports in the organizations or offices are some prominent examples of formal communication. Furthermore, the formal communication is of four types; upward or bottom up, downward or top-down, horizontal for lateral and crosswise or diagonal communication.

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What is Informal Communication?

Informal communication is also known as the grapevine communication; it takes place between the employees of the workplace through any channels. Unlike formal communication, informal communication doesn’t take place through the officially designated channel. The context of the conversation or information is stretched in all directions as the certain point or work oriented tasks are not done in this. The informal communication is the mode of communication that take place when colleagues interact with each other, that can be at canteen during a coffee break or while sitting in the garden area of the office. No rules and regulations are followed in this types of communication and it can be in any convention or style. The conversation can also be purposeful regarding the office work, although mostly it revolves around the personal life, gossips about office staff or many more topics. The informal communication is oral and has no official prove. The informal communication is of four types; single strand chain, cluster chain, probability chain, and gossip chain.

Formal Communication vs. Informal Communication

  • The communication in office or organization taking place through the officially designated channel or the pre-defined channel is known as the formal communication. On the other hand, the informal communication also takes place at the workplace in between the employees, although it doesn’t take place through the officially designated channels and the topic of discussion is broader as it can be gossip, the casual discussion whether related to work or anything else.
  • The formal communication is also known as official communication, whereas the informal communication is also known as the grapevine communication.
  • The formal communication is of four types; upward or bottom up, downward or top-down, horizontal for lateral and crosswise or diagonal communication. On the other hand, the informal communication is of four types; single strand chain, cluster chain, probability chain, and gossip chain.
  • Formal communication is mostly in the written form while informal communication is mostly in the oral form.
  • The privacy is well-maintained while doing the formal communication, whereas no privacy is made while doing informal communication it can be done any time at any place.