Business Communication Types

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Business communication types is most often used in reference to two basic types of communication that occurs in business environments -- internal and external. Internal communication relates to various interactions that take place among employees within the organization. External communication relates to communication from the company to external stakeholders and audiences.

Internal: Downward

Downward communication involves messages that are conveyed from company boards or the executive level and filtered down through the organization. Company boards and top management establish policies and business standards that are communicated from the top through the organizational hierarchy. Managers at all levels communicate with subordinates and teams to provide direction on goals, strategies and task requirements. Downward communication established the tone of a company, affects morale, and drives operations and performance.

Internal: Upward

Upward internal communication involves messages that are carried from the store level or the lower order of company hierarchy toward the top. This includes messages communication from employees to their managers. It also includes feedback provided to top management from employees in various departments or in the field. For instance, a store-level employee at a retail business may notice an important change that should take place at the store level. He may need to communicate the suggestion through his district or regional manager or directly to someone at headquarters.

Internal: Horizontal

One of the most important types of internal business communication is known as horizontal communication. This is the interaction of peers or colleagues within the company. This is especially important as companies increase use of work teams and cross-organizational teams. Communication takes place through direct peer-to-peer discussions, informal conversations, and meetings at which important topics are discussed by departments and work teams. Strong horizontal communication is vital to success in high-performing organizations.


External communication from a business includes messages delivered to clients, vendors and other external community stakeholders. External communication is used for such purposes as maintaining or improving corporate image, sales and customer satisfaction. External communication involves various functional areas of an organization. Marketing departments use external communication to market, advertise and sell business solutions. Company leaders externally communicate new initiatives and other key messages to shareholders and the public. Other employees interact directly with the marketplace through sales and support.