Horizontal vs. Vertical Communication

When we go to the college and the professor gives lectures and impart education to us but if due to some problem we miss the lecture then we take notes and understand the concepts through our friends. This act of understanding from lecturer directly can be compared to vertical communication and understanding same thing from friends can be compared to horizontal communication. Horizontal and vertical communication both are communication techniques used in the companies all over the world, while some companies use the horizontal method of communication while some use vertical method of communication and some use both of them together. Given below are some of the differences between horizontal and vertical communication –

  1. In the case of horizontal communication, the flow of information or communication is between people who are working in the same departments or on same positions in the company while in the case of vertical communication the communication is between superior and subordinate and not between the people working in the same department or at the same position.
  2. Horizontal communication is precise and short because the flow of communication is between peers and there is no involvement of any intermediary person or department whereas vertical communication is lengthy and also it may be misleading because of involvement of intermediary person or department being involved. So for example, if top management wants to communicate anything with lower level management than under vertical communication it will give orders to middle-level managers who in turn will convey those orders to lower level managers and hence the scope of distortions are there in the case of vertical communication.
  3. In the case of horizontal communication people talk or communicate with each in order to solve problems and manage the work in an efficient manner whereas in a case of vertical communication superior gives orders to subordinates following the top down approach whereas subordinates give feedback and suggestions to their superiors following down to top approach.
  4. While in the case of horizontal communication since people communicate at the same level there is no need for any proof or written order to be given to each other whereas in the case of vertical communication orders are given in written or through the mail because the superior subordinate relationship is formal in nature whereas peer relationship in companies is informal in nature.
  5. An example of horizontal communication will be communication between purchase and finance manager who are at same posts or communication between executives working in the same departments like production or marketing department and so on while an example of vertical communication will be communication between finance general manager and finance manager or finance manager and finance executive and so on.

As one can see from the above that both vertical and horizontal communication are quite different from each other and it is not necessary that company should strictly adopt only one communication technique in the company rather a company should be flexible enough to employ both techniques of communication according to circumstances and need of the company.

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