Did you know that effective communication is so important in business that even a group of penguins couldn’t function without it? That’s right, they communicate to hunt for food and survive in harsh environments. And if they can do it, so can your team!
One way to improve your communication is by using the transactional model of communication. Not sure what that is? Let’s dive deeper and see how it can help your team soar like a flock of penguins.
What is a transactional model of communication?
Have you ever been in a game of hot potato with words, unsure who will catch it next? Congratulations, you just witnessed the transactional model of communication in action! In this fun dance, we switch between sender and receiver roles as we volley ideas back and forth.
While face-to-face conversations and phone calls are classic examples of transactional communication, this model can be applied in various workplace settings.
The transactional model of communication is effective because it’s a well-choreographed dance between two or more people. You can lead your team to communicate gracefully and harmoniously without stepping on each other’s toes.
Linear vs. transactional model of communication
To truly grasp the power of the transactional model of communication, it’s helpful to compare it to its counterpart: the linear model. The linear model operates as a one-way street, where communication flows in a single direction without expecting a response from the recipient. In this model, the primary objective is to deliver a specific message.
Think of it like releasing a video announcement or sharing a flow chart for peer review. In these examples, the information is sent out to be received and understood without directly exchanging ideas or feedback.
Unlike the linear model, which focuses on one-way communication, this model views communication as a dynamic, two-way process characterized by ongoing interaction between multiple participants.
This model’s primary objective is delivering a message and forging meaningful relationships between communicators.
Face-to-face communication, like video calls, is an example of a transactional model of communication, where participants actively exchange thoughts and emotions.
Characteristics of transactional model of communication
To get a firm grasp on implementing the transactional model of communication in your workplace, let’s dive into the critical elements. Here’s a rundown:
- Dynamics. The model considers communication a dynamic process involving a back-and-forth message exchange between a sender and a receiver.
- Real-time. The communication has to happen in real-time to be considered transactional but not necessarily face-to-face, so video, phone calls, and instant messaging apps all fall under transactional communication.
- Mutual responsibility. Both the sender and the receiver share joint responsibility for how effective the communication is.
- Context. The transactional model of communication takes into account the physical, social, cultural, relational, and psychological context in which communication takes place.
- Non-verbal communication. The model recognizes the impact of non-verbal cues and behavior, like facial expressions and gestures, on communication and helps retrieve information as people interact.
- Forming relationships. According to the model, the goal of communication is rather long-term — not to deliver a specific message but to build relationships between communicators.
- Feedback. This implies that giving and receiving information about communication is integral to communication.
- Noise. External and internal factors influence communication, including noise, distractions, and the sender’s and receiver’s emotional states.
- Shared meaning. In this model, communication is considered successful when the sender and receiver share the same meaning of the message.
- Continuity. Communication is continuous and occurs both consciously and unconsciously.
And now you know how to differentiate it from other communication models. So what’s next?
Adopting the transactional approach in the workplace
There are different aspects to tackle when transitioning to transactional communication within a team, so here’s a breakdown.
1. Embrace different communication styles. The transactional model of communication recognizes that individuals possess different communication styles. Factors such as cultural background, upbringing, and personal experiences shape how people express themselves.
By understanding and respecting diverse communication styles, team members can bridge potential gaps and foster better understanding among themselves.
2. Foster active listening. Active listening involves being fully present and mentally engaged during communication.
Encourage your team members to practice active listening by attentively focusing on what others are saying. This means asking clarifying questions, seeking additional information, and providing constructive feedback to ensure a deep understanding of the message.
3. Promote a feedback culture. Feedback plays a pivotal role in enhancing performance and fostering professional growth. Surprisingly, more than half of workers desire immediate feedback.
Encouraging a culture of providing and requesting feedback enables team members to address any misunderstandings promptly. It allows for open dialogue, clarifies expectations, and strengthens communication, leaving no room for confusion or potential bottlenecks in task completion.
4. Emphasize clarity. The absence of clarity in initial messages and team communication can result in an average loss of 7.47 hours per week.
To combat this, team members should strive for clear and concise language. Straightly articulating ideas and instructions can minimize potential issues and misinterpretations.
Emphasizing clarity empowers individuals to communicate effectively, streamlines workflows, and prevents unnecessary hurdles.
5. Consider contextual factors. The transactional approach acknowledges that various contextual factors influence communication. These factors encompass the communication environment’s physical, social, cultural, relational, and psychological aspects.
For instance, when communicating with a non-native English speaker, you may have to phrase messages more carefully. Still, this context may not impact two native speakers conversing.
Similarly, conversing with a team member near a noisy coffee machine highlights how the physical environment can affect message delivery.
6. Encourage mutual responsibility. In the transactional model of communication, both the sender and the receiver share responsibility for effective communication. Team members should recognize and embrace their roles in the communication process.
They collaborate to ensure messages are conveyed clearly and accurately, taking accountability for their own understanding and actively seeking clarification when needed.
Applying the model in remote teams
In remote team collaboration, facilitating transactional communication can pose unique challenges due to varying team members’ availability.
A key consideration in establishing this new approach is selecting the appropriate communication channels. While email is commonly used, ensuring that your team can access instant messaging and video conferencing platforms enables real-time interaction and fosters the exchange of ideas and feedback.
However, in the case of international teams, time zone differences may limit the ability to reach out and address issues as they arise. In such instances, emails become a valuable resource.
- providing and requesting feedback
- clarifying messages
- acknowledging the context and different communication styles
- fostering mutual responsibility
It’s important to note that emails are often considered a linear form of communication, lacking the immediate feedback and active listening aspects of other communication channels.
However, even in email communication, it is crucial to demonstrate your presence and engagement. Think of it as employing the mechanism of transactional emails in email marketing. As a user’s action triggers an automated email response, staying connected with your remote colleagues requires a similar approach.
Avoid leaving their messages on “Read” without acknowledgment. Instead, develop a simple email strategy that shows your active involvement and acknowledgment of their actions.
For example, you can provide an update in response to their ideas:
“Thank you for sharing your idea. I am considering implementing it in the project and will get back to you with my thoughts.”
This approach demonstrates that you have seen their message and are actively considering their input. In other cases, a simple “Noted” can let the person know their message has been seen and heard.
By applying the steps listed above and adopting this approach to email communication, you can start implementing the transactional model of communication within your workplace, even in remote settings.
The next section will delve into this model’s specific benefits.
Benefits of switching to transactional communication
You may still wonder why I need to change how my team communicates. Here is a detailed overview of the benefits the model brings to a workplace.
Reduced financial losses
Over 80% of businesses that experience poor communication face a minimum financial loss of $10,000. To make up for miscommunication and the resulting errors, workers may often miss deadlines and need to spend more time on tasks, which translates into more resources involved.
Therefore, ensuring that communication is effective helps prevent associated financial losses.
With a deeper understanding of colleagues’ perspectives, team members communicate more effectively and clearly. This contributes to the fast and effective application of problem-solving techniques and minimizes misunderstandings.
More than 50% of employees in the knowledge sector become more productive when the effectiveness of communication increases. So with better communication, team members get to do more in less time, increasing productivity.
Enhanced teamwork and group dynamics
The model also emphasizes the importance of mutual responsibility and contextual factors, leading to clear zones of responsibility regarding communication.
Besides, acknowledging the aspect of context results in differentiating external impact on communication without blaming the communicators in case of any gaps in the messaging.
Eventually, communicators participate as individual parties, each taking responsibility and contributing to the communication’s effectiveness. And this leads to better team dynamics and stronger teamwork.
The model changes how the team members collaborate by facilitating clarity and feedback, encouraging open communication, and effective team collaboration. This creates an environment that nurtures openness and acceptance, allowing for the free exchange of innovative ideas and perspectives.
Through its emphasis on clear and concise language, feedback, and mutual responsibility, the transactional approach cultivates a culture of respect and equality among communicators. This inclusive environment ensures every team member feels seen and heard, fostering a sense of belonging and value.
Over time, this respectful and effective communication nurtures stronger, more reliable, and mutually trusting professional relationships among colleagues.
Challenges in adopting the transactional model of communication
Unfortunately, embracing a new communication approach can present challenges that require careful consideration. So, knowing the next hurdles before commencing the implementation is essential.
Overcoming communication barriers
Overcoming communication barriers is a critical step in implementing the transactional communication model. Despite the model’s benefits, language barriers, different work styles, technical issues, and others may still exist and hinder effective collaboration.
Dealing with conflicting communication styles
Conflicting communication styles is another challenge that teams may face. For instance, assertive communicators may need help finding common ground with passive communicators. So, while the transactional model of communication emphasizes understanding various communication styles, conflicting communication strategies can still arise and create challenges.
Addressing cultural differences in communication
Although the transactional model of communication recognizes the importance of context, cultural differences in communication can still present challenges. It may take time for people with diverse cultural backgrounds to learn to communicate effectively and apply the transactional model of communication.
Navigating time constraints is another challenge in today’s fast-paced work environment. As the model emphasizes feedback and active listening, it requires communicators to take time to express themselves clearly and fully understand the other person. However, time constraints can often result in rushed communication or misunderstandings.
Resistance to change
Implementing a new communication model requires individual adjustments from each team member. It involves modifying and transforming other aspects of synchronous communication, such as listening skills and non-verbal communication. Consequently, employees may feel overwhelmed or resistant to changing their established communication habits.
In turn, helping team members understand the value and positive outcomes of adopting this model can reduce resistance to change.
Effective communication and collaboration are essential for any workplace, and by adopting the transactional model of communication, teams can unlock the full potential of their collaboration.
The transactional approach enhances teamwork, productivity, and innovation by focusing on continuous interaction, mutual understanding, and clear communication.
Embracing this model enables teams to build stronger relationships, achieve better outcomes, and thrive in today’s dynamic work environment.