Think about brainstorming sessions, department-wide meetings and group discussions with your coworkers.

These are examples of horizontal communication. Information that flows laterally or from left to right and vice versa follows a horizontal path. It’s a more informal way to share messages, ideas and opinions in the workplace.

Today, this type of communication is a lot more common than vertical communication information flows downward or upward.

Let’s explore the definition of horizontal communication and the creative ways in which workplaces have adapted it.

What Is Horizontal Communication?

The meaning of horizontal communication simply explains the flow of information in a professional setting. For instance, if you’re working in a team, your interaction with your teammates falls under horizontal communication.

It helps employees identify with each other and get comfortable in communicating their ideas. For employees who find it hard to open up, horizontal communication encourages them to come out of their shells. This type of communication is suitable when the information isn’t of a sensitive nature or doesn’t call for approval by senior management.

Here are some examples of horizontal communication:

  1. Shanaya works in a four-member team who looks after corporate events for their organization. They have to organize a conference with all department heads and managers. Shanaya and her team discuss, brainstorm and collaborate on potential ideas to make this a success.

  1. Vaishali’s organization has implemented a new digital communication tool for all employees. The tool helps them communicate with each other quickly and more efficiently without waiting on email responses.

Such situations are commonplace in today’s workplace. You probably use a communication tool to interact with your coworkers, especially because a lot of the work is now being done online. Technological advancements have made it easier to incorporate horizontal communication today.

Types Of Horizontal Communication

Let’s look at a few types of horizontal communication in the workplace:

  1. Presentations

Presentations are usually overseen by all levels of management to judge the efficacy of ideas. Your director, manager and peers may comprise the audience so you have to tailor your words appropriately. It’s important to refine your speaking skills in this scenario so you can get your ideas across with clarity.

  1. Meetings

Whether it’s status updates or strategy meetings, they are run by managers because this way they can assign tasks and monitor your progress. You may schedule meetings with your team members for a more informal catch-up—these can be fun team-building activities with quizzes, games and informal conversations.

  1. Brainstorming

One of the most effective forms of horizontal communication is brainstorming. You get a chance to speak your mind and share your idea with your team—which can also include your manager.

There are many other types of communication that flow laterally. From watercooler conversations to Friday catch-ups, organizations find creative and engaging ways to encourage interaction. This helps build interpersonal skills for lasting workplace relationships.

Benefits And Drawbacks Of Horizontal Communication

Horizontal communication isn’t always the best option and in some situations, it’s the only option. Here are its benefits and drawbacks:

  • Benefits:

  1. Helps build morale among employees because they feel heard and appreciated.

  2. Communicating with coworkers allows employees to let off steam, be proactive and share ideas freely.

  3. It creates a liberating environment where employees can ease into their roles without the pressure of pleasing someone.

  • Drawbacks:

  1. Personal bias can hamper judgment and force people to distort messages at will.

  2. It’s not the most ideal setup for employees who prefer structure and order in the workplace.

  3. Organizations may find it difficult to hold people accountable for errors because everyone contributes almost equally.

How you communicate your ideas is important if you want to stand out. When you’re talking to your coworkers, you need to maintain certain levels of professionalism. Therefore, clearly conveying your messages and getting your point across are key.

Harappa’s Speaking Effectively course will teach you how to convey your ideas with clarity, brevity and accuracy. Formal or informal, it’s necessary to equip yourself with the right skills to make your case. Invest in your future by learning how to connect with others and make logical observations.

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