Informal communication methods
What are informal communication methods?
Define informal communication – Informal communications methods share information casually within a social group. The social group may be a family, a group of friends or colleagues or one or more strangers. Informal communications are not part of the formal structure of an organisation. Informal communications include speaking to a person about the weather, writing an email about your holiday, sending a birthday card or talking to someone at the grocery shop. Informal communications can also be gestures (with no words). Informal communication in the workplace is often called ‘the grapevine’.
What are informal communication methods like?
Informal communications are like relaxed conversations with friends. You do not have to respond in writing. Usually, you do not have to respond at all. If you wish, you can just smile or nod, and listen to the person talking.
What is the purpose of informal communication methods?
The purpose of informal communications is to share information in a casual way. It may be to advise your family about your health, to tell a joke, or to share the company of co-workers or friends. Informal communication is relaxing and reduces stress. There is often laughter.
Some managers use informal communications methods to find out what staff honestly think about something, or to support formal communications in the workplace. Some staff use informal communications methods to let their managers know about their concerns, without having to put it in writing or speak to them face to face.
Where does informal communication methods fit into workplace communication?
What is the principle structure of informal communication methods?
Informal communication methods have no principle structure and obey no ‘rules’. Informal communication typically goes randomly from one topic to another. This is why information communication is often called the ‘grapevine’ in the workplace because information is passed on quickly from one person to another like a grapevine grows.
The risk with informal communications methods is that false information can be passed on. Information that is spread on ‘the grapevine’ travels quickly and facts may wrong or distorted. This can lead to the rapid spread of false rumours.
What are the different types of informal communication methods?
Types of informal communication methods include:
- Talking to your friends, family or work colleagues on the phone about personal matters
- Talking around the dinner table with family
- Sending a friendly email to friends or colleagues
- Chatting casually with people at a social occasion such as a wedding or a work dinner
- Waving to friends when you walk by them
- Hugging a friend when you meet and greet them
- Passing a note in a meeting to a colleague about a personal matter
- Shaking hands with a colleague when you meet them
- Patting someone on the back to show that you support them
- Sending a congratulations card to someone who has passed their exams
- Winking at someone in a friendly way
- Raising your eyebrows to show concern or confusion
- Shaking your fist to show your anger or displeasure
- Saluting to show respect to a higher ranked officer (in the military forces)
What terms are used when using informal communication methods?
Some of the common terms for informal communication methods are:
- Dinnertime means the time of day when your family eats their evening meal.
- Factual means something you can prove to be true.
- Family means the people who dwell in your home, or the people related to you by blood lines, or by choice. Not all family members are kin to you by blood, but they are all important.
- Formal means that the communication is official and important to an organisation.
- Gossip means something you have heard but cannot prove to be a fact.
- Grapevine means the information communication networks in an organization.
- Informal means that the communication is relaxed.
- Punctual means to be on time.
Test yourself on your knowledge of informal communication methods?
Where can I find more information about informal communication methods?
You can read more about informal ways to communicate at the following websites: