Horizontal Communication happens when in an organization, communication and flow of messages occur amongst teams, groups or individuals who are at the same hierarchical level. With the help of horizontal communication, an organization can promote internal communication amongst the employees that occupy similar functional positions.
In this article, we will dive deep into the role of horizontal communication in business management and how it should be used in the workplace for optimizing the productivity of the organization via adept information sharing, collaboration, resolution of conflicts, problem-solving. So, let us start with the introduction right away.
Communication is the process of transferring a piece of information from one person to the other through various channels or ways. These channels or methods or patterns are known as the tools of communication.
Horizontal communication is a type where 2 people at the same level of the organization communicate with each other.
Because of such tools, communication becomes effective and efficient, if used properly.
As per some of the industry experts, Horizontal Communication can be defined as-
In the opinion of Betty and Kay- “Horizontal Communication occurs between workers at generally equal levels in an organization.”
Another expert, R.W. Griffin says- “Horizontal Communication involves colleagues and peers at the same level of the organization.”
Now, we hope you would have understood what horizontal communication is, but, to clear the intrigue concepts associated with this type of communication, it is essential to understand all the different kinds of communication simultaneously
Types of Business Communication
There are four types of business communications. These are as follows:
1) Upward communication
It is the type of communication where the information flows from the low level to the high-level operators in a business organisation. In other words, it the way where a subordinate passes information to its manager and a manager passes it again to the CEO. This is a very effective way of communicating as the organisation can bond with the employees and make them feel home. For example, Feedback; the communication flows from bottom to top,
2) Vertical communication
It is the type of communication when the managers share information with their subordinates in the top-bottom formation; it is known as downward communication. It is more like an order than a conversation that seeks a response. For example, the manager explaining the rules and regulations to a junior or intern.
3) Horizontal Communication
It is the type of communication where information flows in the same direction from various sources. It is also known as a conversation taking place among the same level group of people — for example, communication among different managers of different departments.
4) External communication
It is a type of interaction that happens with the external environment. Business is highly dependent on both the internal and external factors of the situation. The external factors involve customers, dealers, buyers, agents, etc. a business cannot run effectively without them, for example, sharing of information to customers about a product or facility.
The most common confusion occurs in the vertical and horizontal form of communications, so let us understand that as well-
Horizontal Communication vs. Vertical Communication
Horizontal communication is the communication done within various managers of an organization of different departments who are at an equal level. Whereas, Vertical way of communication is the communication where mid-level employees and low-level employees in the organization come up with.
In this type of communication, the conversation is not seeking any response as it gives orders, and the person has to follow and provide Feedback.
Well, there are many more such points of differentiation present in these two ways of communication. They are as follows:
|Basis of difference||Horizontal||Vertical|
|Flow of information||It flows to people having the same position or status.||It flows from superior to its subordinate and so on.|
|Purpose||To coordinate the work with different departments to achieve the organisation's goal.||To make sure the information and orders are followed and the feedbacks are received in the upward flow of communication.|
|Method of communication||Oral||Written|
|Possibility of chaos||More||Less|
Key Characteristics of Effective Horizontal Communication
The fundamentals or the basics of effective horizontal communications are as follows:
1) Easy to understand
It is crucial that whatever we want to communicate must be easily understandable by the other person, i.e. the message that we want to communicate must be simplified so that anybody receiving it can understand it in one go. It is essential to avoid misunderstandings among the sender and the receiver, which in large will create chaos.
It is essential that whenever peers are trying to communicate something, we give them all ears. Not paying attention to someone’s message can be very unfruitful as we might miss points that are important for increasing productivity.
Sometimes due to lack of awareness, we come to terms that the person might not have said something in a conversation, but have we made sure that we did hear them properly. That’s the reason why hearing is essential for effective communication to take place.
Sometimes, due to our narrow mindedness, we misinterpret the context of the message that has been communicated by the person, which leads to arguments and fights. This is known as miscommunication. To avoid these issues and make communication effective, the person receiving the message must be a broad-minded person.
4) Remembering the message
It is the most important principle for effective horizontal communication to take place. One must be able to recall the conversation that they had with the other person so that the conversation can run smoothly among them.
These are some of the tips on how a conversation can be made effective amongst the people at the same level. Let us now understand how horizontal communication can be useful for an organization-
How effective is Horizontal Communication in a Business Environment?
A horizontal way of communication involves coordination amongst various people of the same rank or position, along with the managers of different departments to communicate effectively.
When every department comes together to achieve the objectives of the organization, the efficiency increases, in this way, the business earns a profit.
As the business is a ‘fist’ and the various departments in the organization are the ‘fingers’ and fingers, if joined together becomes a fist that can fight from every loss and turn them into profits.
This is how the horizontal way of communication is valid for a business environment for its survival.
Horizontal Communication is a Gift for the Growth of the Organisation.
Every department must work hand in hand with each other to make the organization survive. This will help the organization grow more and more eventually. Therefore Horizontal way of communication is like a gift of growth for the organization.
This way of communication flows everywhere in every department and facilitates coordination among them. If any departments have any issues regarding the message, they can directly have a word with the person concerned, and hence any miscommunication can be removed easily.
Since it is done in the one-on-one format, communication becomes more interactive and faster than any other way of communication. The primary reason is it also involves informal ways of communicating, which makes it easy to approach with having to go through formalities.
Hence it can be seen that the horizontal way of communication is highly dynamic and diverse; therefore the ideas coming from here are more useful for the growth of the organisation than any other form of business communication.
2 Methods of Horizontal Communication
1) Oral Communication
Oral communication means communicating through speech, phone call, video calls, one on one conversations, etc. This way of communication is the most effective way of communication as the speaker and the listener are both face to face or are in direct contact with each other, therefore the chances of miss-communication decrease while communicating orally.
Many business organizations believe in this concept of communication and hence follow it in their work-frame. One such example of this communication is the meetings happening in the business organization. The only drawback here is that if the listener has not recorded or kept anything evidential, then the information will get lost and effectiveness will be hampered. But some organization still prefers the old school way of communication.
2) Written Communication
The old school way of communication that is primarily mentioned is the Vertical way of communication is written communication. While oral communication is considered more prominent in horizontal communication, written communication also plays a notable role in it.
Written communication involves conversation’s passage through printed media like letters, memos, applications, mails, etc. It is believed to an effective way of communication as the information received by a user is evident to him, and anyone cannot deny the written report at times of disputes.
Therefore most of the business organizations still use this form of communication. It is crucial to notice a few drawbacks too in written communication that if sometime the piece of information gets lost or destroyed the data cannot be retained, and in such a case nothing will work effectively in the organization.
Therefore it can be concluded from the above paragraphs that both are important in an organization to work efficiently. A mix of oral and written communication makes the organization operate smoothly.
Disadvantages of Horizontal Communication
Since the horizontal way of communication involves different people altogether these are the few issues below that can hamper the communication in the business organization:-
- Lack of motivation among one member can affect the motivation of the other sometimes.
- There are a lot of chances for disagreements and disputes sometimes when somebody does not feel the same as the other.
- Sometimes the member of an organization does not want the involvement of someone because of reasons like ego issues etc. then effective communication gets poorly disturbed.
- It is vital for every member to feel welcomed and acceptable in the organization. Still, due to the presence of various people, some might feel out-group in the horizontal way of communication.
Every person must be treated equally to function correctly. As it is said; Unity can make the team stronger”.
It can be concluded from the above paragraphs that the most used and effective way of communication amongst peers at a similar hierarchical level in the business organization is the Horizontal way of communication.
As it facilitates growth and also improves coordination among the organization, it is one of the most popular ways of communication in today’s world as people even hire employees from work-from-home by opting for befitting horizontal communication strategies. This is the present way of communication.
So what are your thoughts about horizontal communication in today’s business world?
Do you consider significant for channelizing business communication and sharing important messages and information? Update us with your views in the comments below.