Did you know that we spend 70-80% of our working hours communicating with others? Some of you may disagree, thinking that you don’t talk that much. Well, here’s the thing: most of us often consider only verbal conversation as communication and ignore written ones such as the emails we send or the reports we prepare when thinking about the time we spend on communication. 

Listening is also a form of communication. Great leaders and speakers do more listening than talking. In today’s fast-paced world, developing listening communications skills is crucial. Harappa Education’s Listening Actively course is a great way to start working on your listening skills to be an effective communicator.

Remember, communication in any medium should follow a structure. That structure depends on the form of communication and who all it is supposed to reach or flow to. Let us discuss the most common of these two categories.

Forms of business communication

There are two major styles of business communication: formal and informal communication. Let’s see that they mean:

  1. Formal communication

Formal communication is when you are following a certain structure and communication channel set by the organization. Whether verbal or written, formal communication follows a hierarchical chain of command. An example of this is how a new employee or junior has to report to their team lead, who in turn reports to a manager. Every employee follows this hierarchical chain of communication in the office. 

Formal business communication includes requests, commands, and reports.

  1. Informal communication

Informal communication does not have a predetermined structure or communication channel. Thus, it’s easy and quick. Coffee breaks and gossip at work are the most common forms of informal communication. Wishing your manager on her birthday would also be counted as informal communication.

Informal communication is a very natural way of sharing your thoughts and feelings. Many organizations encourage informal communication as it strengthens the bond between employees.

Types of flow and direction

Business communication can be categorized into different types depending on the flow of direction. The major types are:

  1. Internal, upward communication

This is a type of vertical communication that follows the upward hierarchical flow of direction. Simply put, anything that comes from a subordinate to a manager during a conversation. Here, the information flows upwards. For instance, the reports, surveys, and feedback that are sent from the employees to the management.

  1. Internal, downward communication

Downward communication comes from a superior to the employees junior to her. Think of the annual meetings where the CEO and higher management executives assess the previous year’s performance and discuss upcoming goals. 

Floating a memo regarding a new project or change of policies is common in every organization, and those will also be categorized under this type of communication flow.

  1. Internal, horizontal communication

Horizontal communication, also called lateral communication, is the conversation among co-workers. That includes talking, messaging, and emailing among peers in the office. 

We all experience horizontal communication more often. It can be sending an email to the team regarding project updates or requesting clarification on the sales representative’s requirement. Lateral communication often involves cross-functional teams. 

  1. External communication

External communication deals with customers, vendors, or partners. It also involves communication with regulatory agencies and city offices. It’s the conversation that leaves the office and deals with outside business-related entities.

Anyone who wants to climb the success ladder must develop and improve their communication skills. Good communication skills are critical in today’s workplace. Develop and master communication skills to help you in your professional journey to success. Sign up for Harappa Education’s Speaking Effectively course and learn the tips and tricks for effective communication from industry experts.


Explore blogs on topics such as what is business communication, the communication flow, and formal and informal communication in our Harappa Diaries section and learn how to deliver information effectively.

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