Definition: The Informal Communication is the casual and unofficial form of communication wherein the information is exchanged spontaneously between two or more persons without conforming the prescribed official rules, processes, system, formalities and chain of command.
The informal communications are based on the personal or informal relations such as friends, peers, family, club members, etc. and thus is free from the organizational conventional rules and other formalities. In the business context, the informal communication is called as a “grapevine” as it is difficult to define the beginning and end of the communication.
The informal communication is characterized by an indefinite channel of communication, which means there is no definite chain of command through which the information flows. Hence, the information can flow from anywhere. Often such communication arises out of the social relations that an individual creates with other persons on the basis of common interest, likings or dislikings.
There are four types of Informal Communication (Grapevine) network that show how the communication is facilitated. These are:
- Single Strand Chain
- Gossip Chain
- Probability Chain
- Cluster Chain
The gossip in the organization is the best example of informal communication, wherein the employees of different department irrespective of their hierarchical positions come together and communicate with each other. The grapevine satisfies the social needs of people and smoothens the formal relations by filling in the gaps and even bring together different people who do not fall under the common chain of command.