Formal Or Informal Communication Break Downs And The 3 Levels Of Verbal Communication

October 4, 2016

In my experience on the topic of formal or informal communication I have observed that

1) Most communication breakdowns happen because of misunderstandings

2) And misunderstandings happen when communication is out of context

Communication is always “contextual” whether it is formal or informal, verbal or nonverbal. Being aware of the contextual part of communication is the responsibility of everyone to think before sending or receiving. It means to always bring into the picture the recognition of the immediate surrounding of a given issue or matter being communicated.

When faced with a communication breakdown, the question for us to always ask is this: “What is the context within which this communication situation is taking place?”

As in a book where the text is the actual group of words being read, the context is the surrounding information, the details, the story, the places, the characters, etc.

So, where is the conversation within the context of the issue? Is the problem happening at the sender’s end of the communication or at the receiver’s end? Where is the misunderstanding? Then focus your communication recovery there.

Communication is never independent of context whether it is formal or informal.

The Three Levels of Verbal Communication.

Before we can improve verbal communication and increase its effectiveness, we need to understand how it works and where the players fit within that communication.

First, when we communicate, there is always a sender (speaker) and a receiver (listener).

Second, the communication itself contains 3 elements:

A) the Information being communicated such as issue, topic, subject, instruction, opinion etc.

B) the Means by which this information is being communicated (verbal, nonverbal, written, using telephone, face to face, letter, book, etc.)

C) the Way in which the information is being communicated (how we use our words, tone of voice, writing style, organized or disorganized manner, etc.)

Both sides have three levels of Active Responsibility to process the activities used in communication:

Level I:

This is where the actual exchange of communication takes place between the sender and receiver which contains the above three elements.

Level II:

This is where the Translating and Interpreting of that communication happens. This is done by the thought processes of each the Sender and the Receiver according to each his/her experiences, and frame
of references in their various walks of life (business, personal, moral, ethical, etc.).

This is where the major complications of communication arise (good or bad connection). If everyone thought the same, saw things the same way or reacted in the same manner, communication would be
straightforward. However, it doesn’t happen that way.

Level III:

This is where we get and give Feedback, Understanding and Awareness:.


Both sides are responsible to see that the communication has been Sent and Received as intended. This is identified by asking the right questions at the right times. “Can you please repeat the steps for closing the shop, to make sure I didn’t leave anything out?” “Let me run through the requirements as I understand you’ve outlined them”. Both sides ask for feedback when needed.


Effective communication requires a common Understanding between the parties communicating. The Sender Transmits with Understanding to the Receiver. The Receiver Interprets with Understanding from the Sender.


Finally, each side requires an Awareness of the many interferences also going on, such as cultural differences, linguistics, diction, clarity of speech and expression, verbal, nonverbal parts, etc.

Whether we are in Formal or Informal Communication, we are all subject and vulnerable to break downs. Understanding this and the 3 Levels of Verbal Communication that we can watch for will help us improve and perfect as much as we can our own communication as well as help other to communicate better. /dmh

Diane M. Hoffmann is the founder of Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications and the web site which is the home of free articles and tips, her e-books “Improve Communication, Verbal and Nonverbal” and “Improve Communication, Organization and Training” as well as her 296-page printed book “Contextual Communication, Organization and Training”. Article copyright(c)2009/10/11 Diane M. Hoffmann. You may reprint this article making sure to include this bio with no changes.

Informal Communication – How It Differs From Formal Communication

October 4, 2016

Both informal communication and formal communication take place in any organization whether it be business or our personal family lives. But we need to recognize the difference.

Informal communication is casual and spontaneous, whereas formal communication is more thought-out and prepared from learned experiences or organized training that present rules and conventions authoritated by business and formal etiquette.

Informal communication comes from communication activities outside of those formally learned at home through discipline, or at school through education, or in business through our own personal experiences and formal training.

It falls under the social communication of grapevines and rumors, casual conversations and inter-relational activities outside of the formal or public arenas.

We do not behave the same way at work as we do at home or at play. I always say that people are at their best at work. We really don’t know someone until we’ve stayed with them outside of work for a few days-or a few hours even, with some people.

Informal communication may not be as reliant as formal communication where more accountability is expected. In an organizational setting, such as business, or association and the like, communication is connected with official status-quo or protocols of the formal channels of structure and culture which the line of manager/subordinate reporting system is expectedly accepted.

In order to understand informal communication, we need to understand formal communication and then realize that informal communication is what takes place without the formal addition of convention and ceremonies.

In business the different forms of formal communication include departmental functionality, activities taking place within meeting and conference settings, verbal and written communication through telephone, memos and bulletins, etc.

It is safe to also recognize that informal communication may be vulnerable to being deceptive and imprecise in its casualness – conscious or unconscious. In a formal setting, people take the time to recognize the consequences of transmitting any wrong or incomplete information. But in an informal setting, the quality of communication may be affected by the more relaxed or careless attitude or behaviour.

However, both formal and informal communication is found in an organization, depending on the level of business experience and training one possesses in his or her personal life. An organization can make efficient use of informal communication by confirming and affirming that which is being communicated by the untrained or less trained individual.

Informal communication, like formal communication can be expressed verbally or non-verbally by words, tone of voice, signs such as glances and gestures and even silence. For the purpose of effective communication, one needs to identify and affirm anything that may be communicated, if unsure of the true meaning behind the communicator./dmh

Diane M. Hoffmann is the founder of Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications and the web site which is the home of her e-books “Improve Communication, Verbal and Nonverbal” and “Improve Communication, Organization and Training” as well as her 296-page printed book “Contextual Communication, Organization and Training”. You may reprint this article making sure to include this bio with no changes.