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Informal Communication: Meaning, Networks, Merits and Demerits

Last Updated : 20 Apr, 2023
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The process of exchange of ideas, views, facts, feelings, etc., between two or more persons to reach a common understanding is known as Communication. Communication is a social process as it involves two or more persons. It is a pervasive and continuous function. There are two main communication channels: Formal and Informal communication channels. 

Informal Communication


What is Informal Communication?

Unofficial communication that arises from social interaction of people is known as Informal Communication. It takes without following the formal lines of communication. Informal communication is also known as grapevine communication as it does not follow any hierarchical order and spreads throughout the organisation. Employees want to exchange their ideas, viewers, etc., apart from work, which cannot be done through formal channels, this can be done through informal communication. Workers discussing about new teammates, policies, etc., with each other, discussing about a movie, etc. are a few examples of informal communication.
The origin and direction of information cannot be easily known and communication flows in a very vague manner. It generates rumours, which affect people’s behaviour and hampers the work and organisational environment. 

As grapevine communication transmits information rapidly, it is often used by managers to spread information. A manager should positively use informal communication and should minimize its negative aspect.

Networks of Grapevine Communication/Informal Communication

Informal communication has different types of networks. Some of them are as follows:

1. Single Strand:

Single Strand Network


Under this, information passes from one person to another in sequential order.

2. Gossip: 

Gossip Chain Network


Under this, information is passed by one person to everyone on a non-selective basis.

3. Probability:

Probability Network


Under this, an individual communicates randomly with others. Information is passed randomly by one person to anyone who comes in contact with him.

4. Cluster: 

Cluster Chain Network


Under this, an individual communicates with only those people whom he trusts. Some of them keep the information to themselves and some pass it to others whom they trust. It is the most common pattern of grapevine communication.

Merits of Informal Communication

  • It helps in achieving social satisfaction and making better relations at workplace.
  • Gaps created by formal communication, which cannot be discussed through official channels are filled with the help of informal communication.
  • It helps to link those who do not fall in the official chain of command.

Demerits of Informal Communication

  • The message sent through informal communication is not authentic and may get distorted as the information travels unsystematically.
  • Responsibilities cannot be fixed as the source of information is unknown. 
  • It leads to rumours, which hampers the work.
  • Confidential information can leak because of informal communication.

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