ethnic man browsing laptop and having communication with woman. Formal and informal communication.

Formal and Informal Communication

Formal and informal communication are 2 different types of communication used separately in different scenario. Before we go in to the details of formal and informal communication, lets briefly understand what is communication ?

What is Communication?

Communication is the way of expressing your thoughts, feelings, and ideas to others. It is done from one end to the other end and that makes the communication cycle complete. Communication can be carried out in many ways. For example between individuals, within groups, Within the organization, etc etc. Our prime Minister Addresses the nation through media is also the way of communication with the nation. It is example of one way communication where he does not get any feedback directly. On the other hand face to face discussion are example of two way communication.

2 Types of Communication

  1. Formal Communication
  2. Informal Communication

Let us learn in deep detail about both the type of communication.

Formal Communication

Formal Communication is normally used for professional purpose. It is used as a way of passing a message at various levels of corporate hierarchy. As the name “Formal Talk” itself suggest formalities so, it is a type of talk with some rules and protocols to be followed. It is carried out with proper flow; predefined standards and it take time.

Formal talk is carried out to ensure smooth operations for any business. It is also used when we are developing, increasing the productivity and business. Formal communication is the organizational communication that takes place within the organization or for organisational purpose. It can be carried out normally in the written formats like memos, a report, presentation, etc. Formal communication can be attractive and impressive to attract more clients and customers.

Formal Communication in brief


Formal communication is mostly reliable as they are carried out with proper standard and norms.  They are more authentic as they are done through emails, paperwork, etc in written format. It moves through the predefined channel and therefore their awareness at every point of who is sending the message and to whom. So, it is done under surveillance so it is highly reliable.

Speed is slow

As formal communication has to follow protocols and norms it takes time to complete it. The message is been forward to many different groups of people and accordingly, they are acknowledging it as per their priority. Formal communication normally flows from top-level to lower level so its speed is always slow.

Permanent Records

As formal communication is done through paper works, mails, reports, etc they are in the permanent format and hence can be used anytime in the future. It is useful to both the organization and the others as they are always in the written format, they can be helpful in many ways in future in Legal ways, Tax Department, Growth ways, etc

Increase inefficiency

Formal communication always increases efficiency as it is always carried out in the involvement of top/higher management. So, it is always required to follow norms and etiquette while having formal communication.


As we know how it flows from management level to junior level so, it takes time to pass on the message from one person to both. And hence it is a time-consuming process and needs to be done with patience.

Disadvantages of Formal Communication

Wastage of time

As Formal communication is carried out in a group of people every individual will respond to it as per their priority and as a result, there is a delay in the process and it takes too much time to complete a simple task too.


Formal Communication has to follow many norms and protocols and it is carried out with the involvement of a higher level so all this involvement can cost you to maintain and manage it.

Not Flexible

Formal Communication is never Flexible, it has to be carried out properly.  Sometimes you have to work on it though it is not on your priority list. So, it very difficult to be flexible on it as higher management involvement is present.

Delay in Decision

Formal communication takes time to decide the way to complete or follow the task. So, it always led to a delay in the decision-making.

Type of Formal Communication

  1. Vertical Formal Communication
  2. Horizontal Formal Communication
  3. Diagonal Formal communication

Vertical Formal communication

This type of communication is carried out from a Higher level to a lower level and vice versa. From upper to lower level, it is in the form of Reports, Emails, letters, etc. Whereas form lower to upper communication it can be in the form of complaints, demands, etc

Horizontal Formal communication

This type of communication is carried out between the subordinates and peers, of the same levels.  For example, the communication carried out between managers from different departments.

Diagonal Formal Communication

This type of communication takes place between different levels from a different department. E.g., All the departments doing a brainstorming session to find out the root cause of the problem. When different levels of employees from different departments come together to have some discussion it is considered as Diagonal Formal communication.

Informal Communication

What is informal communication?

Informal talk is carried out without any hesitation or any norms. There are no formalities involved and it is a free talk, People have the right to speak what they think. In informal communication, people can talk about what they think.

Informal Communication can be considered of 2 types

  1. At the Workplace
  2. Beyond Workplace

Let’s go through in detail about each in detail

Informal Communication in Workplace

Informal communication in the workplace is called GRAPEVINE.

It is a type of communication that is carried out between peers and is easily transfer in the whole organization. E.g., do you know that Meera from Finance Division is blessed with a baby girl. In this type of communication as there is no predefined channel, information can flow from anyway.  In this type of communication, information can flow quickly from one end to the other and then in the whole organization. Though this type of communication can be harmless one should always know their limit and boundaries while having such communications.

Let’s learn the type of Informal communication Flow:

  1. Gossips
  2. Single strand
  3. Cluster


Gossips are the way of communication from one or in a group, it is communication that takes place between one person to another person or between groups. This type of communication takes place without any constraints and people can talk freely with each other. It is normally an interesting bit of news/talk that is not related to the job.

Single strand

The single strand is the type of communication that is carried out by an individual to individual, it is the person to a person type of communication, in which no 3rd person is involved. It is the least accurate of all the types as it is carried out from one to another so everyone adds their points and the final information is the distorted and bent (not correct) information.


This type of communication takes place between the group. The debate can be considered as a type of cluster communication. This is the most popular type of communication that is carried out in the organization. In this type of communication, the informer informs a few individuals who will pass on the information to an individual or a group of people.

Informal Communication beyond workplace

This type of communication is carried out when people from the same organization have good personal bonding between them. They are spending their time together and having some personal conversations. Such type of conversation takes place when colleagues are friends and have a good bonding between them. Such type of communication makes a friendly environment in the organization.

The drawback of Informal Communication

Rumors can easily spread

One wrong statement can easily spread in the whole organization as it passes very fast and there is no boundness. Rumors can be easily spread in a meantime from one person to the whole organization

Information Passes very fast

Informal communication is not work-related so if there is something not useful it can easily pass as it does not involve any higher level, so it can be easily spread. So, it can be challenging for anyone who does not know the limit of the conversation.

Advantages of Informal Communication

The workplace can be friendly

Informal communication at the workplace can lead to a friendly environment in the workplace. One can easily enjoy the workplace as they will be happy and without stress. Once they are happy and have a positive attitude, they will easily give their best and work for the growth of themselves and the organization.

Delegation of Work

With a good support system between peers, they can easily share and delegate their work in times of excess stress and pressure. They can help each other in fulfilling their task and the growth of the individual and the organization.

Can make Work Fast

Managers can understand realistic views and the ground level part. It can be helpful in the business and the organization’s growth.

Ways of Communication

There are 2 ways of communication:

  • Verbal Communication
  • Non-verbal communication

Let’s go through the details about both

Verbal communication

It is the most common type of communication that each and everyone in the world uses it.  It is mostly used between people to communicate through words. In simple words, it is known as Spoken Communication. It is the most powerful and fastest mode of communication.

In this type of communication, you transfer all your thoughts into speech and get immediate results and feedback from the audience with whom you are talking. Verbal communication makes your bond with the audience to a great emotional level. E.g., verbal communication is speech, Presentations, etc

Non-Verbal communication

It is the type of communication that can be in the written format or the facial form.  Nonverbal communication can be done through written format in the form of emails, memos, Notice boards, etc. Non-verbal communication can also be done through body languages, Facial expressions, gestures, etc


Formal communication has long life but informal communication is more powerful.

Communication is the two-way approach of passing on the message to each other and having a mutual understanding. Communication is future divided into different types that is personal communication and workplace communication. Personal communication is the process of exchanging their feelings, emotions, etc with each other, and workplace communications are the way of communicating through predefined channels.

Formal and Informal communication can sometimes overlap each other according to the demand required. Though senior level or top management can sometimes have an informal talk with the juniors to make them more comfortable so that they give their best for the job and organization, but juniors always have to maintain their conversation in the most formal way as the top management are always involved. If Juniors are talking informally with the top-level management it can be considered offensive and it is not appreciated at all.

“Communication is an Art that should be learned to own”

Recommended books for Formal and informal communication:

Article Credit: Formal and Informal Communication

This article, Formal and informal communication is contributed by Ms. Pragya Delhiwala. Experienced as a quality engineer after completing her education: 2nd rank BE in Electronics & Communications; 1st rank MBA in TQM. She is passionate about management, writing and painting.

More articles from Ms. Pragya Delhiwala:

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