Difference Between Horizontal and Diagonal Communication

There are certain ways in which communication takes place, and horizontal and diagonal communication are two examples of such ways. By the look of it, these two seem very related and similar, but the truth is that both of the communication flows are entirely different from one another. It becomes very crucial for any person to be aware of the differences that lie between these two channels of communication. 

Horizontal vs Diagonal Communication 

The main difference between horizontal and diagonal communication is that the former happens to be the kind of communication that exists between people who work at a similar level, and there is no difference of hierarchy between them. But on the other hand, the latter is a kind of communication that takes place between people who are situated at entirely different stages of hierarchy. Apart from this very cool difference, other differences such as the purpose of these two communications and their impact can also be marked. 

Horizontal and Diagonal Communication

Horizontal communication can be interpreted by its name very easily. It represents a chain of communication that can be seen between people who work at a level where similar positions are situated. This can better be understood by an example veer a chain of communication is taking place between students of the same class. This communication shall be labeled as horizontal communication as there is no difference of hierarchy between these students and all of them are at the same level. 

But on the other hand, vertical communication exists between those people who work at different levels of hierarchy in any kind of organization. For example, if the Dean of the university communicates to the head of the department and then the head of the department communicates to the peon, this chain of communication shall be referred to as vertical communication as it does not involve people who are working at the same level rather involves people who are working at an entirely different level and thus shows a chain of hierarchy as well. 

Comparison Table Between Horizontal and Diagonal Communication 

Parameters of Comparison Horizontal Communication Diagonal Communication 
Meaning  a chain of communication between people who are not superior or inferior to each other a chain of communication between people who are different in terms of hierarchy 
Purpose  By this particular communication people usually share general information by this particular communication people either seek to clear their doubts or give authoritative decisions 
Tone of communication this particular communication holds a sort of informal tone this communication happens to be very formal 
Means of communication  This communication is mostly done orally this communication takes place in writing necessarily 
Possibility of misinterpretation due to being a shorter channel the probability of destruction of the exact message is comparatively low due to being a lengthy channel, there is a probability of the message being misinterpreted 
Length of the channel the channel of this particular communication happens to be a shorter one as the information flows between two people mainly the channel of this communication can be very lengthy as it involves many people at many levels 

What is Horizontal Communication? 

The term horizontal represents anything that exists on a similar line, and the meaning of horizontal communication can easily be inferred from the definition of horizontal itself. In other words, Horizontal communication is basically a channel of communication that exists to ease out the process of information exchange between those people who are situated at a similar level of hierarchy. 

This channel usually works between informal relations and is mostly used by orally speaking the message and then receiving it. This is the reason behind this particular channel being a relatively short one as it only involves the person who is sending the message and the person who is receiving the message. 

A very distinguished advantage of this channel is that because of is a short one, the reliability of the message can be granted very easily as there is a very less probability of a message being distorted. People use this particular channel to inform other people about general ideas and daily progress

What is Diagonal Communication? 

The term diagonal happens to be a synonym for the term vertical and represents anything that exists between cross-sectional levels. In other words, it represents a channel of communication that is found between people who are situated at different levels of hierarchy in a given workplace.  

They communicate with each other in a very formal tone, and this particular conversation is recorded in the form of writing mostly for fun people use the channel of dialogue communication because of the fact that it seeks to improve the authority and the chain of command in a particular organization. 

A big disadvantage of this particular channel is that due to being a lengthy channel, there is a probability of the message being misinterpreted because many people happen to be involved in the channel, and this involvement can become the cause behind the misinterpretation of data. 

However, a particular advantage is also associated with this channel that is the clear-cut division of authority and obeyance. This channel ensures that all people become aware of their exact responsibilities while learning to respect their superiors as well. 

Main Differences Between Horizontal and Diagonal Communication 

  1. The term Horizontal Communication represents a chain of communication between people who are not superior or inferior to each other, but on the other hand, the term Diagonal Communication represents a chain of communication between people who are either superior to certain people or inferior to certain people in terms of hierarchy. 
  2. The tone of Horizontal Communication happens to be a bit informal as compared to Diagonal Communication because of the involvement of people. 
  3. Horizontal Communication can easily be done orally, but in the case of Diagonal communication, it should only take place in due writing. 
  4. Diagonal Communication is a relatively lengthy channel as compared to a Horizontal one. 
  5. In horizontal communication, very few people are involved; thus, the probability of a message being misinterpreted is comparatively low than the Diagonal channel of communication. 
Difference Between Horizontal and Diagonal Communication


The world is a home for different kinds of people who speak different languages and communicate and different ways. Communication is called the key of society because it helps people to convey their thoughts with proper clarity and makes easier the process of personal connection between people. 

When the channels of communication are discussed, two major channels are referred to in any structured organization or workplace. These two are the horizontal channel of communication and the Diagonal channel of communication. The very basic difference between these two can be marked by the very name of them, but apart from it, there are loads of differences that exist between these two. In order to understand the working of any organization, it is very crucial to understand the differences between these two communications. 


  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/2390677 
  2. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/108056990206500202  
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