An informal communication network is one that is formed around the social association of members of an organization and does not follow authority lines. “Grapevine communication” is another term for such networks. The rumor mill, social networking, graffiti, spoof newsletters, and impromptu water-cooler chats are all possibilities.
The Informal Channel Network, also known as the Grapevine Network, depicts the communication pattern, or how informal communication is passed from person to person. The informal communication network is the result of a shared understanding of an issue. Informal communications can take a variety of forms and functions within an organization. One such form is the grapevine. It carries rumors of upcoming layoffs, promotions, mergers, and other events that affect the company. In an organization, the grapevine can be a valuable source of information because it often surfaces ahead of a formal announcement. It also functions as an important channel for information, as employees can share the information without the manager’s knowledge.
The informal communication network is the second type of communication. It is similar to the grapevine, but there are no predefined channels for this type of communication. Informally-created information spreads rapidly throughout an organization. In addition, it is often relational in nature, and it may extend outside the boundaries of a work environment. Its main advantage is speed since informal communication rarely leaves a paper trail.
Table of Contents
1. What Are Informal Communication Methods?
Informal communication strategies are used to casually communicate information within a social group. A family, a group of friends or colleagues, or one or more strangers can make up the social group. Informal communications are not part of an organization’s formal structure. Talking to someone about the weather, writing an email about your vacation, sending a birthday card, or talking to someone at the grocery store are examples of informal interactions. Gestures are another kind of informal communication (with no words). The grapevine is a term used to describe informal workplace communication.
2. Purpose of Informal Communication
Informal communications are used to exchange information in a relaxed manner. It could be to provide your family health advice, tell a joke, or enjoy the company of coworkers or friends. Informal dialogue is soothing and stress-relieving. There’s a lot of laughter. Some managers utilize informal communication strategies to find out what their employees really think about a topic or to enhance formal workplace communication. Some employees use informal communication methods to communicate their concerns to their supervisors without having to write them down or speak to them face to face.
3. Structure of Informal Communication
Informal communication approaches lack a fundamental framework and do not follow any ‘rules.’ Informal communication usually jumps from one topic to the next at random. This is why, in the workplace, information transmission is sometimes referred to as the ‘grapevine,’ because the information is passed on swiftly from one person to the next, much way a grapevine grows.
When using informal communication channels, there is a risk of erroneous information being spread. Information spreads swiftly through ‘the grapevine,’ and facts may be incorrect or misinterpreted. False rumors can spread quickly as a result of this.
4. What Are the Examples of Informal Communication?
Few examples of informal communication:
- When you meet a coworker, shake their hand.
- Patting someone on the back to express your admiration
- Sending a card of congratulations to someone who has completed their examinations is a kind gesture.
- In a nice manner, winking at someone
- Raising your brows to express concern or perplexity
- You can express your wrath or disgust by shaking your fist.
- Saluting a higher-ranking officer to show respect (in the military forces)
- Talking on the phone with friends, relatives, or coworkers about personal problems
- Conversations with relatives at the dinner table
- Sending a warm email to friends or coworkers
- Having a casual conversation with strangers at a social event such as a wedding or a business dinner
- Waving to pals as you pass them by
- When you meet and greet a friend, give them a hug.
- In a meeting, passing a letter to a colleague about a personal subject
5. Importance of Informal Communication Network
The informal communication network is an essential component of the organization’s communication system. It allows employees to communicate with each other in a way that is not possible through formal channels. It is often the only method of sharing information within an organization, and it is a key element of an effective communication strategy. It is a great way to share and spread information that would not be shared through formal channels.
The informal communication network is a vital part of any organization’s communication system. It enables employees to share information in a way that isn’t possible through formal channels. In addition to that, it can also provide important information that would otherwise not be accessible, informal channels. In many cases, this kind of communication is more likely to be shared with people outside the organization than inside.
The informal communication network is an integral part of an organization’s communication system. It is a person-to-person channel that is not subject to rules and flows freely within the organization. It is an extension of a business’s mission and is the most popular method of communicating internally. Unlike formal communication, informal communications often cross organizational boundaries. If you are a member of a network, you’ll be able to communicate with others without a formal channel.
While formal communication may be the most effective method of communication, it is not always the most efficient. The informal communication network is much slower, and information can spread in an unorganized manner. It is more likely to contain misinformation because it is not regulated. In fact, it can also be more difficult to track the sources of information in a casual way. This type of information is less reliable than formal communication, which means that it is a risky approach to an organization.
5. Types of Informal Communication Network
There are four identified informal communication networks:
Single Strand Network
Information passes from one member in the network to the next under this communication pattern. For example, one person may offer information to another, who will then pass it on to the next person, and a third person may then pass the same message on to the next person in the network, and so on. This type of chain is less dependable and accurate when it comes to transmitting the information. The communication process is linear in this case.
Probability Chain Network
Information is passed from person to person at random in this communication pattern. For example, a person acting as a message source chooses anyone at random from his network to deliver the message. That second person will choose another person at random and send the message on to him, and the communication will continue to flow to different people picked at random. Each member of the network has a distinct source of information. When the information is entertaining but not significant, this communication technique is used.
Cluster Chain Network
In a cluster chain network, an individual works as a message source, transmitting information to a pre-selected group of individuals, from which a few individuals repeat the process with another group of individuals. The chain continues in the same way, and the message reaches everyone in the network. This pattern is akin to a telephone tree, in which one person calls two other people, these two people call three more people, and these three people are supposed to call three more people. Similarly, the information is sent to everyone who is linked to the telephone network. The most prevalent type of informal communication network is this.
Gossip Chain Network
There is an individual in the gossip chain network who directly communicates the message to all other members of the network. He is usually the central figure who seeks out and distributes information to everyone he has gathered. Everyone in the network communicates with one another informally here. When the topic matter is irrelevant to the nature of the employment, this network is frequently used.
6. Informal vs Formal Communication Network
Informally-oriented communication has its advantages and disadvantages. Intentionally spreading misinformation is difficult to shut down and can be very hard to trace. Furthermore, the casual conversation may be based on a causal relationship, and it can result in inaccurate statements and other sensitive information. Despite the benefits of informal communication, it can be harmful if misused. If you want to learn more about this type of communication, you should study it in depth.
Unlike formal communication, informal communications are faster than formal communications. Oftentimes, they don’t use official channels, and they can also cross organizational boundaries. It is based on friendships, shared interests, and personal networks. It’s easier to find information that way, and it’s more likely to spread outside of the organization. For example, an employee may be able to share a message with a stranger over coffee.
Hierarchy, technology systems, and government policy shape formal communication methods. Informal communication normally does not leave a trace for others to find or share, but formal communication usually does. In conventional businesses, formal interactions are usually “one-way”: management initiates them, and employees receive them. Because it comes from the top of the organization, formal communication content is seen as authoritative. Informal communication can take place in any direction and between people of various statuses and roles.
Informal communication regularly spans organizational boundaries and is often distinct from workflows. That is, it frequently occurs between people who do not work directly together but share an association or a shared interest in the organization’s activities, as well as a desire to do a good job.
Informal communication takes place outside of an organization’s formal channels for communicating messages and information.
The informal communication network is the grapevine. It does not flow through official channels. It’s not regulated by formal rules and regulations. In most organizations, informal communications tend to be more widespread. In addition to being more effective than formal ones, they also save time. It’s a way to build healthy relationships within an organization. The only difference between them is the method used. If you’re unsure of whether the formal methods are more effective, try asking the workers to explain it to you.
Many businesses formerly saw informal communication (usually linked with interpersonal, horizontal communication) as a barrier to effective organizational performance and attempted to eliminate it. This isn’t the case anymore. It is widely recognized that maintaining personal networks and social interactions through information transmission is an important aspect of how people get work done. Seventy-five percent of all organizations’ practices, policies, and procedures are transmitted through grapevine communication, which may surprise you.
While casual communication is beneficial to a company, it can also have drawbacks. Informal communication is detrimental and difficult to shut down when it takes the shape of a “rumor mill” spreading false information since its sources are unknown to management. Because casual talks are typically spontaneous, participants may make inaccurate remarks or spread false information. Informal communications are held to a lower standard of accountability, which can lead to persons being indiscreet, using sloppy language, or disclosing sensitive information.