Difference between Horizontal Communication and Diagonal Communication

Information is sent from one party to another through communication when the sending and receiving parties employ mutually understood symbols, signs, and semiotic standards. Typically, semiotics is used for this purpose. The absence of it would render life meaningless.

Successful completion of any multi-party transaction, operation, or activity is impossible without effective communication. However, within a company, information is disseminated throughout the various departments and divisions that make up the organization.

There are four distinct forms of communication that flow inside an organization: horizontal, diagonal, upward, and downward. All of these are important considerations in corporate communication, but the method of communication ultimately employed will depend on the size, makeup, and goals of the company.

What is Horizontal Communication?

The term "horizontal communication" refers to the sharing of information across divisions within an organization that is at the same functional level. The term "lateral communication" describes this kind of communication between people. In addition to being critical for coordinating between departments, it is also vital for the free flow of ideas, wishes, information, and attitude between coworkers and peers. Traditionally used by large corporations, it has seen increased uptake amongst smaller and medium-sized enterprises in recent years.

In an organization, adopting horizontal communication has a number of advantages, including the following −

  • Allows for easier communication and cooperation between parties.

  • This creates a forum for clarification, which is especially useful when many teams are collaborating on a single project.

  • Managers working together to share their perspectives and ideas simplifies the process of reaching the company's objectives.

  • Allows for better coordination between divisions.

  • Empowering employees is linked to higher rates of communication, motivation, and job satisfaction.

  • Makes it less likely that anything will be misunderstood, which boosts productivity in the workplace.

  • Problems are dealt with and fixed immediately.

  • Helps ensure that intended remarks are understood.

However, there are several limitations to horizontal communication that you should be aware of.

  • When people of equal standing and rank communicate with one another, rivalry and hostility are common. One party may deliberately conceal data from the other at any time.

  • It has the potential to cause tension between different divisions, especially if there is already an existing dispute, mistrust, or suspicion between the divisions in question.

  • An overemphasis on horizontal communication may have a negative impact on the effectiveness of other types of communication, such as vertical communication.

What is Diagonal Communication?

This term describes the communication between employees at various organizational levels. Diagonal communication may occur, for instance, when a company's managing director speaks with an employee in sales communication.

Many companies have made the transition to this kind of communication for many reasons, including

  • Facilitates communication between lower- and higher-level employees.

  • Protects against tampering with communications and keeps them in their original form.

  • Makes senior staff's jobs easier

  • It may be used as a tool to inspire and encourage workers.

  • It's a useful tool for stress-testing a company's leadership and discovering where improvements are needed.

On the other hand, it can be ineffective in the following circumstances −

  • The proper channel for communication is ignored. For instance, if workers don't inform their superiors of developing problems but instead go straight to the managing director, it might result in career destruction and trust concerns in the workplace.

  • It may encourage unhealthy levels of rivalry among employees.

  • It's possible to be laborious, which significantly lowers productivity.

Differences − Horizontal and Diagonal Communication

Both of these methods of communication ensure that communication interactions are conducted in a productive and fruitful manner. The following table highlights how Horizontal communication is different from Diagonal communication −

Characteristics Horizontal Communication Diagonal Communication


Horizontal communication refers to the sharing of information across departments within the same organizational level.

Diagonal communication is a type of communication that occurs between employees at different levels of an organization.


The goal of horizontal communication in the workplace is to improve cross-departmental collaboration and efficiency.

Diagonal communication is a channel for the dissemination of information between subordinate workers and superiors.

Information flow

We call the communication of information between people on the same social and professional tiers "horizontal communication."

The diagonal line of communication is used by superiors and subordinates alike.

Level of formality

Horizontal communication has a low degree of formality.

Communication on the diagonal is quite formal.


To name only a few of the numerous potential outcomes of horizontal communication: the growth of shared comprehension and coordinated action, the availability of an explanatory forum, especially among departments working on the same project, and the promotion of collaboration.

Diagonal communication helps an organization succeed by fostering relationships between workers at different levels, ensuring that messages are transmitted unaltered, relieving stress on managers, inspiring workers, provoking them to think critically, and pointing out where improvements are needed.


While it might be beneficial in some situations, horizontal communication can lead to a decrease in the efficiency of other forms of communication, as well as the development of rank, rivalry, and animosity among those in the same position.

If employees fail to tell their superiors about potential difficulties and instead contact the managing director, it might hurt their careers and raise trust issues. It can also cause unnecessary competition among employees and a loss of productivity.


The nature of today's business climate necessitates that organizations develop and implement effective methods of communication. It makes them able to handle complex situations including human resources, language hurdles, and difficult commercial procedures. The success or failure of a communication might hinge on whether or not its leaders use the proper channels of communication. Therefore, careful thought must be taken before settling on one.