What is Upward Communication in Business?

By | September 2, 2015

What is upward communication or, definition upward communication or, meaning of upward communication is when message goes from subordinates to superiors, it is called upward communication. It is just opposite to downward communication. The purpose of upward communication is usually to give information and reports to managers or superiors. It is also used to know the problems of subordinates and their opinions related to specific subject matter.

What is Upward Communication?

According to Dr. Urmila Rai. “Messages which go from subordinates to supervisors and to higher levels are upward communication.”

In the opinion of L. C Bovee & Others, “Upward communication is the flow of information from lower level to higher level in the organization.”

M M. C Shukal said, “Upward communication means the flow of information from the subordinates to the superior managers.” Business Communication

So, when information moves upward from downward direction, it is called upward communication or when a message flows from a subordinate to a superior, it is considered as upward communication. Upward communication may be written or oral. The flow of upward communication is presented below by figure:
What is upward communication

Difference between Downward and Upward Communication

Downward communication and Upward communications are two branches of vertical communication. In organizational internal communication system both of them play vital roles. But there are some basic differences between them which are discussed below-

  • Definition: Downward communication when information flows from higher level to lower level in an organization, it is called downward communication. And upward communication when information flows from lower level to higher level in an organization, it is called upward communication.
  • Nature: Downward communication it is directive in nature. And upward communication it is non-directive or participates in nature.
  • Subject Matter: Downward communication it includes orders instructions, advice, policies etc. And upward communication it includes suggestions, complaints, opinions etc.
  • Application: Downward communication it is perfectly applicable in authoritative environment. And upward communication it is perfectly applicable in participative or democratic environment.
  • Purpose: Downward communication the purpose of downward communication is to supply the subordinates with relevant information. And upward communication the purpose of upward communication is to send the feedback to employees regarding any message sent by superiors.
  • Possibility of Distortions: In downward communication the possibility of distortion of message is very little because communication is authoritative in nature here. And upward communication there high possibility of distortion of message because subordinates may intentionally distort it to get favor.
  • Frequency of Use: Downward communication it is used most frequently as managers are to send direction orders, advice to employees frequently. And upward communication it is used less frequently compared to downward communication.
  • Flow of information: Downward communication here message flows from superiors to subordinates or from higher levels to lower levels. And upward communication here message flows from subordinates to superiors or from lower levels to higher levels.
  • Initiative: Downward communication Here higher authority takes initiative to communicate with subordinates. And upward communication here subordinates take initiative to communicate with higher authority.
  • Management Style: Downward communication method is followed by authoritative management system. And upward communication method is encouraged by participative or democratic management system.
  • Methods of Communication: Methods used in downward communication include letters, bulletin, circulars, brochures, memos, orders, telephone etc. And Methods used in upward communication include open door policy, report, counseling, meeting, complaint box, suggestion system, grapevine etc.

From the above discussion, it can be said that there are some fundamental distinctions between downward and upward communication system. But both of them are important for their applications.

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