Understanding The Transactional Model Of Communication


Table of Contents

In this article, we will clarify the most common questions when talking about the transactional communication model. If you are curious about the communication between senders and receivers or if you want to develop your knowledge in this topic, this article will be particularly interesting to you.

In short, this post will help you understand more about transactional communication and how it affects your social, cultural and relational settings. In addition, we will also discuss the main criticisms it receives as a model.


  • The transactional model aims to simplify the communicative process through a simultaneous exchange of roles between the sender and the receiver.
  • This model influences different contexts where we interact: social, relational and cultural.
  • In addition, this model receives certain constructive criticisms like any other. We show you this to broaden your vision and give you a better understanding of the term.

What you should know about transactional communication

The transactional model of communication refers to a change of roles. The sender is also the receiver in this type of interaction. In this article, we will explain in detail what it consists of and will show you a compilation of the most common questions that occur when talking about transactional communication.

What is the transactional model of communication?

What does the transactional communication model refer to? It is a model that simplifies the simultaneous exchange of sender and receiver during the communicative process. This means that the roles are changed interactively in order to communicate. The message is transmitted by both because it is a fluid communication (1). In addition, this process encourages the Moreover, this process encourages bonding, community building, self-concept shaping and alliance building (2).

In the transactional model, there is no single message from a sender to a receiver, as they both make that message. They actively listen to maintain the two-way channel (1).

The transactional model, therefore, can be given from one human to another human physically, virtually, through a call or video call, with interactive training or with meetings to exchange impressions, ideas, etc. (3). This is why noise can occur. This concept refers to a difficulty or obstacle in the communicative process, whether physical, psychological, social, cultural or semantic (1).

How does the social context affect the transactional model?

The social context refers to the laws, values, norms, and restrictions that society must follow or has imposed on itself. This reduces the possibilities for communication and restricts certain behaviors (2).

You have always been taught that when you see someone you know in the street, you should greet them, or when you are introduced to someone, you should greet them with a smile. You should say thank you for a compliment, apologize for mistakes, and so on. The people that are close to you, such as your parents or teachers, are the ones who pass on these social rules to you (2).

As you get older, you observe and practice what others do. It can be said that we use “trial and error” to learn. From the reaction of those around you, you can tell if your communication has been appropriate or if you need to improve. An example would be not dressing in accordance with others at work. Nobody says anything, and you will not be punished for it, but the unwritten social rules condemn you with non-verbal language (2).

How does the relational context affect the transactional model?

In the relational context, transactional communication is affected by the underlying manners and relations to the interpersonal background. Manners, in this case, influence the communicative behavior between two people (2).

Communication will be affected by the interpersonal relationship people have, whether they are strangers, friends, or relatives. In other words, the process will be easier when two people already know each other. If they do not know each other, it will be difficult to break the rules or social norms (2).

In addition to this, the way they relate to each other is also important, beyond the type of relationship. They may have a more formal relationship or a new one. A person who joins a community will make more effort to fit into it and accept its norms (2).

How does the cultural context affect the transactional model?

Cultural context refers to cultural groups. They can be divided by class, gender, race, sexual orientation or nationality. Among similar groups, communication is more efficient (2).

Social marginalization, unfortunately, is a factor to be taken into account within the cultural context. There are cultural groups that are set aside, ignored or despised for belonging to it. This generates insecurity due to their identity while communicating, as it affects certain factors. The mentality of other groups makes them close to others, in addition to their education and beliefs. To avoid this, it is important to be open and accept other cultures, adapting to the context (2).

Transactional communication affects the relational, cultural and social context (Source: Rocío García/ Gitnux)

What criticism does the transactional model receive?


The first of the criticisms of this model is the issue of misunderstandings. There are situations where you need to clarify certain expressions or certain doubts, as mentioned above. What could you do to solve this? You use feedback. You reply by verbal communication to see if the dialogue has been successful and thus make sure that the communication has been effective (2).

Unnecessary noise

As it is a communication where all the subjects are both senders and receivers, it becomes complicated to regulate the actions of each one. This creates unnecessary excessive noise. For this reason, participants should be given a few moments of silence and respect each other’s talking time (2).

Relational factor

Unlike the relational model, there is no value in cooperation in the transactional model. Continuous interaction promotes communication. It is a two-way process between communicators for achieving goals and creating stronger communication networks (4). This factor makes the other model preferable, even if it has its advantages.

Like any communication model, it is criticized by experts, as everyone has their own opinion. It is true that there are factors we cannot avoid, such as noise or misunderstandings, although we have clarifications and repetitions for that. (Source: Rocío García/ Gitnux)


To sum up, transactional communication is based on a two-way approach with at least two participants. These participants are the sender and the receiver, who exchange their positions for fluid and rich communication. It is essential that both are aware of the type of communication that takes place. They have to respect the change of roles and act as such at all times. They communicate both verbally and non-verbally, so the action is continuous.

It is true that, depending on the context, this type of communication may affect us in one way or another. Relational, cultural and social factors are determining factors in this process. Moreover, like any communication model, it is criticized by experts, as everyone has his or her own opinion. It is true that there are factors that we cannot avoid, such as noise or misunderstandings, although for this we have the clarifications and the repetitions.


1. Duran J, Sánchez L. Audiovisual communication industries [Internet]. Universitat de Barcelona; Available at: http:

2. Bhasin H. Transactional Model of Communication. MARKETING91 [Internet]. October 18, 2021; Available from: https:

3. What are examples of the transactional model of communication? Online News [Internet]. 2020; Available from:

4. D’Este P, Garcia-Quevedo J, Mas-Verdú F. Knowledge transfer. From the transactional to the relational model. Dipòsit Digital de la Universitat de Barcelona [Internet]. 2014;25:279-93. Available at:


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