The interactive model of communication is a two-way process of exchanging ideas, messages, and information. It involves an active exchange between two or more parties, where each party takes turns as the sender and receiver of the message.
This communication style is commonplace in both the workplace and our daily lives, allowing for expedient information exchange through email, text messages, and even social media posts.
The sender encodes the message and sends it through a channel to its destination, whereupon the receiver decodes it.
Once interpreted, they can then provide feedback—either verbally or non-verbally, like a smile or head nod—to let the initial communicator know their point was understood.
For example, when two friends meet in person, they take turns talking and listening. It is an example of the interactive model of communication.
The interactive model of communication promotes a two-way exchange between different people.
It is capable of swiftly and efficiently transferring data while all participants are involved in the dialogue and can provide feedback to ensure everybody comprehends each other’s message.
Interactive Model of Communication Definition
The interactive model of communication is a back-and-forth communication process that involves the exchange of ideas, messages, and information between two or more sources.
It is characterized by a continuous cycle of sending and receiving messages, with each source taking turns as both sender and receiver.
As stated by Bilgin and colleagues (2021),
“…an interactive communication model implies that participants alternate their positions as sender and receiver and generate meaning by sending messages and receiving feedback within physical and psychological contexts” (p. 222).
This model emphasizes the importance of feedback in communication, as it allows for a more interactive dialogue between sources.
Kumar (2020) believes that the interactive model:
“…deals with the exchange of ideas and messages taking place both ways from sender to receiver and vice-versa” (p. 122).
In simple terms, it is a two-way process of exchanging information that allows for sources to engage actively with one another.
Interactive Model of Communication Examples
- Conversations between two or more people: This is the most common type of interactive communication, where individuals exchange thoughts and ideas through verbal dialogue. The back-and-forth of conversation allows for a more natural flow of communication and for each person to actively engage in the exchange.
- Emails: Sending messages through email is a great way to have an interactive experience with someone else. Email can be used to ask questions, provide feedback, and provide additional information that may not have been provided during the initial conversation.
- Text Messages: Texting is another form of interactive communication, as both parties can take turns in sending and receiving messages. This form of communication makes it easier to engage in a more detailed exchange since it does not rely on verbal dialogue alone.
- Video Conferencing: Using video conferencing allows for an even more interactive experience due to seeing the other person’s facial expressions and body language, which helps create a better understanding between both participants.
- Social Media Posts: These can serve as an effective tool for interactive communication by allowing people worldwide to communicate with one another in real time. People can easily comment, share their opinions, and ask questions about topics posted on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
- Online Forums: Participating in online message boards allows users to discuss topics, ask questions, find answers, provide feedback, or just connect with like-minded individuals who are also interested in the same subject matter. This type of interaction fosters further engagement amongst users that would otherwise remain anonymous online if they didn’t participate in these forums or message boards.
- Teleconferences: Long-distance meetings utilizing telecommunication technologies allow participants from all over the world to communicate without having to actually be present at the same physical location (e.g., conference calls). Teleconferences allow multiple individuals located at widely separated locations to come together virtually and interact simultaneously using audio technology over any device, such as a telephone or computer microphone/headset.
- Group Work Projects: Working collaboratively projects encourages students or colleagues alike to work together constructively by exchanging ideas, offering feedback, and coming up with solutions collectively rather than individually.
- Blogs: Blogging enables authors/creators/writers to have meaningful conversations with readers/viewers through comments under their posts, where readers can give opinionated responses about authors’ points.
- Chat Rooms: Instant messaging chat rooms available on social media platforms let users connect instantly with strangers from around the globe who are interested in discussing similar topics.
Models of Communication Compared
While the transactional model of communication focuses on a back-and-forth exchange of information between two people, the linear model emphasizes a one-way flow of information, and the interactive model is a combination of the two (Hamilton et al., 2019).
With the two-way transactional communication model, the sender and receiver are equally involved in exchanging messages that shape each other.
This approach emphasizes the ever-changing nature of communication as well as how context directs message interpretation (Hamilton et al., 2019).
In the linear communication model, a sender encodes and sends out a message via an appropriate channel to be received by a receiver, who then deciphers it.
It perceives communication as being communicated in one direction only, from originator to recipient (Hamilton et al., 2019).
Finally, the interactive model of communication views communication as a two-way process that involves feedback between the sender and receiver.
In this model, the sender encodes a message and transmits it to the receiver, who decodes the message and provides feedback to the sender (Bilgin et al., 2021).
So, the main difference between the transactional, linear, and interactive models of communication is their view of how messages are exchanged between two or more people.
Main Types of Interactive Model of Communication
Even though interactive communication models can be used in various settings, some core types prevail. The most common ones are Osgood-Schramm and Westley and Maclean models.
1. The Osgood-Schramm Model
One Sentence Overview: The Osgood-Schramm model looks at reciprocal communication, showing how we have to encode, decode, and interpret information in real-time during a conversation.
The Osgood-Schramm communication model emphasizes the paramount importance of feedback throughout a cyclic exchange between three components: the sender, their message, and its recipient (Mcquail & Windahl, 2015).
With this model, the sender translates their message into a form suitable for transmission via a communication channel to the receiver. After it is decoded, feedback from the recipient enables them to modify or refine it as necessary.
The Osgood-Schramm communication model recognizes that the context of a conversation has an impact on how it is interpreted, which can modify its purpose and clarity.
2. Westley and Maclean Model
One Sentence Overview: The Westley and Maclean model shows that our communication is influenced by environmental, cultural and personal factors.
The Westley and Maclean model of communication is a sophisticated model that considers the influence of interpersonal relationships and social issues in communication (Narula, 2006).
It indicates that communication is an ever-evolving process made up of three components: interpersonal, media, and societal.
Interpersonally, communication is exchanged between two individuals. Through media channels, these messages are relayed to the masses.
On a societal level, broader social influences like cultural norms and values affect how people communicate.
In this model, communication is seen as a continuous and cyclical process that involves feedback and adaptation.
Simply, the Westley and Maclean Model considers the influence of mass media in communication by deliberating its larger social context.
In contrast, Osgood-Schramm Model emphasizes sender, message, and receiver relationships within a given context.
Pros of the Interactive Model of Communication
In contrast to other models of communication, the interactive one has several pros, such as increased flexibility, more effective communication, improved problem-solving, and a higher level of trust.
Here are a few advantages of the interactive communication model:
- Increased flexibility: This model allows for a more flexible approach to communication as each party has an opportunity to involve themselves in the conversation and adjust their responses based on what they hear from other participants.
- More effective communication: Feedback is key to an effective dialogue, allowing all parties to express their thoughts while engaging in meaningful conversations with one another. It leads to an improved understanding between sources, ultimately resulting in better outcomes.
- Improved problem solving: Through collaborative dialogue, sources can come up with better solutions by pooling their ideas together instead of relying solely on individual efforts. It also encourages active engagement between participants and encourages idea sharing, leading to more innovative solutions that could not have been achieved alone.
- Higher levels of trust: With feedback being part of the dialogue, individuals will be more likely to trust one another due to actively engaging in meaningful conversations where both sides are respected and listened too. This type of interactive communication creates stronger relationships and fosters stronger bonds between sources over time.
Cons of the Interactive Model of Communication
Despite some advantages, the interactive communication model requires more effort, is quite time-consuming, can lead to emotional risks, and has some difficulties in measuring success.
- Requires more effort: As this model requires sources to take turns engaging with one another, it usually involves more effort than other models like the linear or transactional model. It adds an additional level of complexity to communication and could lead to fatigue if not managed properly.
- Time-consuming: The feedback loop involved in this model can also lead to conversations taking longer than usual as sources may need more time to think through their responses before communicating them or offering their opinion on a certain topic.
- Sensitivity and emotional risks: Because each party can express their emotions and feelings in this model, there is a risk that misunderstandings, disagreements, or emotional outbursts could occur as sources work together to reach agreements or solutions.
- Difficulties in measuring success: As the interactive model relies heavily on personal feedback, measuring success beyond self-reported opinions from individual sources can be difficult since there is no clear metric for quantifying successful outcomes in these types of conversations.
- Difficult for Mass Communication: Because the transactional model requires two-way communication, mass broadcast media like radio cannot be used to achieve the aims of this model.
In an interactive communication model, two or more sources actively exchange information with one another in a turn-based fashion. Both parties act as senders and receivers to ensure the message is successfully conveyed.
This model is based on nonstop feedback and discourse, utilized in various situations, from talks to emails, text messages, social media platforms, and group tasks.
The interactive communication model stands out among the rest due to its numerous advantages, such as more flexibility and enhanced problem-solving skills.
Additionally, it strengthens relationships through effective dialogue while building trust within a group setting.
However, this model also has some disadvantages, such as requiring more effort and being time-consuming. Besides, it can lead to misunderstandings, disagreements, and emotional risks.
Bilgin, M. H., Danis, H., Demir, E., & Vale, S. (2021). Eurasian business perspectives: Proceedings of the 29th Eurasia business and economics society conference. Amsterdam.
Springer International Publishing, Los Angeles: Imprint Springer.
Hamilton, C., Cree, B., & Kroll, T. (2019). Communicating for success (2nd ed.). London: Routledge.
Kumar, D. M. (2020). Advanced educational technology. New York: Sankalp Publication.
Mcquail, D., & Windahl, S. (2015). Communication models for the study of mass communications. New York: Longman.
Narula, U. (2006). Communication models. Georgia: Atlantic.