This article throws light upon the top five types of communication flow. The types are: 1. Downward Communication 2. Upward Communication 3. Managing Communications 4. Crosswise Communication.

Communication Flow: Type # 1. Downward Communication:

Most decisions in an organization flow through the organization’s structure level by level. Communication flow from people at higher levels to those at lower levels in the organizational hierarchy is referred to as downward communication. Generally, the communication flow in organizations with an authoritarian leadership is predominantly downward.

Oral downward communication may take place by means of instructions, meetings, the telephone, loudspeakers and even the grapevine. Written downward communication involves the use of memorandums, letters, handbooks, pamphlets, policy statements, procedures, and electronic news displays. Obviously, the downward flow of information through organization levels is a time-consuming process.

The delays may frustrate top-level managers to such an extent that they may insist on sending the information directly to the person or group concerned rather than allow information to slowly flow down the hierarchy.

Communication Flow: Type # 2. Upward Communication:


Upward communication originates from subordinates and continues up the organizational hierarchy to superiors. In other words, it is an upward flow of information from employees at the operational level to the top executive along the chain of command. This flow of communication is sometimes impeded by managers in the communication chain, who distort messages while communicating them to their bosses.

Upward communication can also take place through suggestion systems, appeal and grievance procedures, complaint systems, counseling sessions, joint setting of objectives, the grapevine, group meetings, the practice of an open-door policy, morale questionnaires and exit interviews.

Communication Flow: Type # 3. Managing Communications:

The responsibility for creating a free flow of upward communication rests to a great extent with superiors. In order to facilitate effective upward communication, the upper level of management must create an environment in which subordinates feel free to communicate.

Communication Flow: Type # 4. Crosswise Communication:

Crosswise communication consists of two types of information flows, horizontal flow and diagonal flow. Horizontal flow refers to the flow of information among people at the same or similar organizational levels, whereas diagonal flow refers to the flow of information among persons at different levels, who have no direct reporting relationships.


Crosswise communication helps improve understanding between employees and enhances coordination for achieving organizational goals.

It can take place orally during informal meetings of the company’s fund-raising team or over lunch. It can also take place during formal conferences, board meetings, and meetings of task teams and/ or project organizations. The company newspaper, magazine and bulletin board notices are the usual mediums for the written form of crosswise communication.

As crosswise communication does not follow the chain of command, proper care should be taken to prevent potential problems from arising between personnel at various levels and between various departments of the organization.

Despite the potential problems that may arise due to crosswise communication, this form of communication is necessary for the organization to respond to the needs of the complex and dynamic business environment.