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Transactional Communication Model – Types, Pros, Cons

What is the transactional model of communication? When we communicate with others, we begin from the very moment of birth, using sounds, and as we grow older we use words, sentences, and even diagrams themselves. Even strangers initially exchange pleasantries, progressing to less formal forms of communication as they become more comfortable with one another. 

As we develop our communication skills, we also build on our prior experiences and behaviors. A doctor may communicate differently than a nurse, for example, who will focus on the patient’s physical condition.

The Transactional mode of communication involves a continuous exchange of information, with the sender and the receiver having equal importance. This model is often used for work since both parties receive equal weight in the communication process. 

Unlike Linear Communication…

Where a message is sent one way, the two parties involved in a transactional communication process must be physically present to fully understand the context and the content of the other person’s message.

In this article, we will learn the elements/key components, the uses/advantages, examples, and types of traditional communication modes. A Transactional mode of communication emphasizes dynamic, ongoing, contextual, and simultaneous communication. 

This style of communication is particularly applicable to migration and other types of global change. The purpose of this style of communication is to provide information exchange that is relevant and efficient for the people involved. 

Here are some of its key elements.

Key Elements/components of the Transactional Mode of Communication

A transactional model is the most general kind of communication and is the basis of everyday conversation. It is more efficient for communicators who share similar individual and environmental characteristics. 

In other words, communication between friends or colleagues is more effective than communication between strangers. The efficiency of communication also depends on the medium of delivery. 

Different media types, such as face-to-face communication, can lead to different perceptions of the same message. In addition, the absence of body gestures in a telephone call may alter the message.

A communication system based on the transaction has a number of distinct elements. For example, a message is more reliable when the sender provides feedback, whereas nonverbal cues can be useful in conveying additional information. 

It also lacks social context and instant feedback, which can lead to confusion and misunderstandings.

Communication within the transactional mode is a three-dimensional representation of the way a message transfers. In this model, each part of the communication process plays a specific role. 

Its components include the communicator, the message, the channel, and the noise. The process of encoding means that a message transforms into a human-readable form through words, symbols, or gestures.

  • The communicator: Depending on the situation, the transactional mode of communication involves one or two people acting as both sender and receiver simultaneously. 
  • The message: Transactional mode of communication refers to the dynamic exchange of messages between individuals. These messages are sent and received in daily interactions, such as when two people are conversing. 
  • The channel: Transactional mode of communication emphasizes the need for a shared field of experiences, such as a language or cultural tradition. In addition, it emphasizes the necessity of immediate feedback, even when messages aren’t mutually exclusive. 
  • The noise: It also allows for noise, which can interfere with the meeting’s objectives. A transactional model also allows for noise and simultaneous communication, which can interfere with meeting objectives and lead to misinterpretation of the message. 

Note: The most effective form of transactional communication is when participants have similar backgrounds and environments and share similar social systems. Despite its apparent simplicity, it does require a basic understanding of different structures and contexts. Moreover, this model is not appropriate for every situation.

The Difference Between the Transactional Mode of Communication and Non-transactional

Source: Taylor Stickle

There are two basic modes of communication: transactional and non-transactional. We use transactional models in everyday life. It involves the exchange of words, which is a basic form of human communication. 

Transactional communication involves a two-way exchange of messages between people, who share the same background and values. This mode is most effective in situations where the two parties share similar interests and goals. Transactional communication is “worldly.” In contrast to non-transactional communication, which is a one-way communication, transactional communication involves two-way exchanges. 

In This Model

Both the sender and the receiver receive equal importance, and the co-creation of meaning occurs in multiple contexts. This type of communication requires two individuals to be present to be effective. However, this type of communication can also be accomplished through the use of technologies such as video conferencing and skype calls. The main differences between non-transactional communication and transactional communication are the nature of the medium. 

Transactional communication is more reliable when it takes into account non-verbal cues, which help the receiver obtain more information during an exchange. It is impossible to use non-verbal cues in phone conversations, so this model is less suitable for communication between strangers.  Transactional communication requires two people to have the same level of personal and interpersonal traits, which makes it more efficient than non-transactional communication.

Examples of Transactional Mode of Communication

The transactional mode of communication is a two-way process in which the sender and the recipient are given equal importance. The process enables the co-creation of meaning in multiple contexts. 

This type of communication requires two people to be in the same location, i.e., face-to-face. However, many forms of this communication are possible via skype calls or video conferencing. In addition to being two-way, transactional communication is dynamic.  It constantly evolves and is always changing.

What are the Steps involved in the Transactional Mode of Communication

The Transactional mode of communication involves two people interacting through the same channel. This communication model involves simultaneous creation and negotiation of meaning, which can cause unnecessary noise and interruptions. 

The two parties may agree to disagree on the same issue, but they will still engage in a continuous exchange of thoughts and feelings. It is very important that both people present on the call are aware of what is being said and what is not being said.

The transactional model consists of two main actors, the sender, and the receiver. This model involves a mutual exchange of positions, enabling both the sender and the receiver to construct social realities. 

The roles of the sender and the receiver in this model are different from those in other communication models. In this mode, all participants, including the sender and receiver, are engaged in both encoding and decoding of messages.

Advantages/ Uses of the Transactional Mode of Communication

The transactional model of communication has many advantages. 

Using it is easy: It lets you make your point and absorb what the speaker is saying. It is one of the most dynamic. It refers to people as communicators, implying that they send and receive messages. 

Its best-known models are the transmitter-receiver model and the iceberg model. These models contain a number of interdependent components and processes. In the transactional model, the sender and receiver are aware of one another’s state, meaning they share the same information.

It relies on social and cultural authenticity:

Various factors affect how well communication is received. It is essential to consider the context before deciding on the best mode of communication. 

Some of the most common types of transactional communication include telephone conversations, online meetings, and interactive training sessions. These modes of communication are highly effective in facilitating group collaboration. 

Nevertheless, there are several limitations to this mode of communication. I will also discuss some of the disadvantages of transactional communication and why it’s so important for written communication.

  • It allows for many different contexts: However, this mode requires that individuals have an understanding of various structures and their motivations. This type of communication is most effective in contexts where the sender and receiver share similar backgrounds. 
  • Reliance on assumptions and lack of feedback: If you want to improve the quality of your written communication, you should switch to a different mode of communication. 

In addition to being inherently ineffective in a variety of contexts, the transactional mode of communication can also lead to misunderstanding. Whether the message is clear and well-meaning or completely unintentional, it is possible to misinterpret it. 

Furthermore, because people tend to think differently, they may interpret the message differently than other people. Consequently, it is important to choose the right time and place to hold conversations. Adding unnecessary noise to conversations may cause confusion and misinterpretation.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is the Transactional Communication Model?

  • The Transactional Communication Model is a communication theory that describes how people exchange information and messages in a dynamic, two-way process. It emphasizes the role of both the sender and the receiver in communication.

Who developed the Transactional Communication Model?

  • The Transactional Communication Model was developed by communication theorists Barnlund and later expanded upon by scholars like Watzlawick, Bavelas, and Jackson.

How does the Transactional Communication Model differ from other communication models?

  • Unlike linear models of communication, where the message flows in one direction (sender to receiver), the Transactional Model considers communication as an ongoing, simultaneous exchange where both parties play an active role.

What are the key elements of the Transactional Communication Model?

  • The key elements include:
    • Sender: The person initiating the message.
    • Receiver: The person receiving and interpreting the message.
    • Message: The content being communicated.
    • Feedback: The response or reaction to the message.
    • Noise: Any interference or barriers that can disrupt communication.
    • Context: The surrounding environment and circumstances affecting communication.

How does feedback work in the Transactional Communication Model?

  • Feedback is essential in the Transactional Model. It occurs when the receiver responds to the sender’s message, either verbally or non-verbally. This feedback informs the sender about the effectiveness of their message and allows for adjustments if needed.

What is the significance of context in the Transactional Communication Model?

  • Context refers to the environment or situation in which communication takes place. It can greatly influence how messages are interpreted. Understanding the context is crucial for effective communication as it provides additional meaning to the message.

How does noise affect communication in this model?

  • Noise represents any external or internal factors that can disrupt or distort the communication process. It could be physical noise, psychological distractions, or even misunderstandings. The Transactional Model acknowledges that noise is a common occurrence and can impact the clarity of communication.

Is the Transactional Communication Model only applicable to face-to-face interactions?

  • No, the Transactional Model can be applied to various communication channels, including face-to-face conversations, written communication, phone calls, and even digital communication. It is a versatile framework that applies to both verbal and non-verbal exchanges.

How can the Transactional Communication Model be useful in real-life communication scenarios?

  • Understanding this model can help individuals become more effective communicators. It encourages active listening, feedback-seeking behavior, and an awareness of contextual factors that may influence communication outcomes.

Are there any limitations to the Transactional Communication Model?

  • One limitation is that it simplifies the communication process, whereas real-life communication can be much more complex. Additionally, it may not fully account for cultural or psychological differences that can impact how messages are interpreted.

These FAQs provide a foundational understanding of the Transactional Communication Model and its relevance in various communication contexts.

In Conclusion

The Transactional mode of communication describes the continuous exchange of information between two or more participants. Messages are transmitted from one party to another through the medium of choice. 

The medium determines the reliability and efficiency of communication. For example, people process the same message differently if they speak over the phone compared to face-to-face communication. Additionally, gestures may not be as effective when communicating over the phone. In a transactional setting, feedback from both parties is important to ensure the quality of the communication.


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