Informal communication denotes communication which does not follow predetermined guidelines. Two office workers chatting in the hallway about their weekend activities falls under this category, whereas a prearranged office meeting would be considered a type of formal communication. Often informal communication is verbal. However, modes of communication like e-mail, notes, facial gestures and blogs can also be informally conveyed.
Discussion Lists and Blogs
Both discussion lists and blogs are online forms of informal communication. Blogs allow users to post information regarding their lives or opinions. Readers of a blog can in turn post comments in response to what the author of the blog has written. This interchange of information is conducted in an informal manner. Discussion lists allow Internet users to post their comments in response to articles or media items. Often those posting their comments create a temporary forum in which they respond to one another's comments.
The term "the grapevine" supposedly originates from the Civil War practice of stringing telegraph wires between trees to facilitate battlefield communication. When people say they heard it "from the grapevine," it signifies that the origin of the information is unknown and that multiple channels are conveying such information. The "grapevine" can represent a collection of friends, family members and coworkers.
Forms of communication such as facial expressions, hand gestures or modes of dressing can also be conveyed informally. They often do not adhere to strict codes of behaviour (with exceptions such as attending a ball and having to wear formal dress). Also sometimes facial expressions and even hand gestures are conveyed unconsciously or without much forethought and may signify that the speaker is at ease in the communication setting.
College Office Hours
When a student drops by her professor's office during office hours, this can be considered a type of informal communication. Such a setting has very little formal rules with regards to communication. The conversation may roam freely among topics and does not have to adhere to a predetermined time limit.