7 junio, 2024

Bilateral communication: concept, characteristics, advantages, examples

We explain what bilateral communication is, its characteristics, advantages, disadvantages and we give several examples.

what is the two-way communication?

Two-way communication is a type of communication in which the participants fulfill both the role of sender and receiver. Thus, the one who first issues the message later becomes the recipient of the response from his interlocutor. The best example is a conversation between two people.

Communication is defined as the act of exchanging information between two or more individuals. It is the most basic way of contact between people and is the basis for the transmission of knowledge, opinions or concepts between human beings.

There are several ways to classify the act of communication. Among them is the division between unilateralwhen the information is transmitted only from a sender to a receiver without the latter being able to participate, and the bilateralin which the receiver becomes the sender to continue the communication.

This type of communication is the most frequent among human beings. Messages are exchanged immediately and technology has allowed distance not to be an impediment to carry out the communication process.

Characteristics of two-way communication

is reciprocal

The most important characteristic of bilateral communication is its reciprocal condition. Likewise, it stands out for allowing feedback.

sender and receiver

To understand its characteristics, it is necessary to know the definition of two concepts linked to communication: sender and receiver.

He transmitter is the person or entity that issues the message.
He receiver is who receives and interprets (decodes).

In the case of bilateral communication, these two actors continually exchange their roles. Thus, not only is there a sender that transmits information to a passive receiver, but the latter assumes the role of sender to respond to the information received. This exchange of roles continues for the duration of the conversation.

Types of two-way communication

There are two types of bilateral communication, direct and indirect:

direct two-way communication

The participants in the communicative action are present in the same place. For example, it occurs when a customer asks the seller about the characteristics of a product and the seller answers.

indirect two-way communication

In this case, the sender and the receiver do not share the same space. However, both can continue to maintain the communication as if it were direct. A current example is provided by social networks. In them, the distance that separates the participants does not matter, since they can maintain contact almost simultaneously.

Differences between two-way and one-way communication

In the case of unilateral communication, the roles of sender and receiver are fixed and do not change during the process.

For example, it occurs when watching television, whose message is received by the viewer without the possibility of him answering. Likewise, it is also the case when an opinion is issued before a person and he prefers not to continue with the subject.

This lack of response is the main difference with bilateral communication, which is characterized by the change of role of the recipient. Thanks to this, it is considered a more complete way of communicating when there is an exchange of information.


In most cases, two-way communication offers many advantages to human beings. For this reason, it is considered one of the bases of coexistence.

1- Participation and fluency

Due to its own characteristics, for this type of communication to occur, the participation of two or more people is essential. In this sense, it encourages all participants to participate.

In addition, with this type of conversation it is easier for a more fluid interaction to take place.

2- New themes

When there is an exchange of opinions between the participants, it is very easy for new topics to arise to continue the conversation and, thus, enrich it.

It is not uncommon for a conversation on a particular topic, no matter how important it is, to evolve into an exchange of views on deeper and more interesting issues.

3- Creation of new ideas

That same exchange of information encourages new ideas and thoughts to appear. With input from all parties, the two-way conversation is a very effective way to encourage creativity.


Two-way communication, despite its advantages, is not exempt from presenting some elements that can hinder its final objective.

1- Availability

For a communication of this type to develop, its participants must be available and willing to sustain it. This need can mean that, on occasions, communication cannot take place and must be delayed.

2- Time

As several messages are issued with their corresponding responses, this type of communication requires more time than the unilateral one. In addition, there is a risk of interruptions.

3- Deviate from the topic

Despite the fact that the appearance of new topics is usually also considered an advantage, in certain situations this type of communication can deviate from the main topic to deal with other secondary or less interesting ones.

Examples of two-way communication

Given the large number of times in which this type of communication is used in daily life, the examples of them are innumerable. At almost any time when two or more people meet, they begin to practice it.

Two friends meet on the street and begin to tell each other how each of them have spent the weekend. Each comment also generates responses about it.
By calling the couple on the phone, a two-way conversation develops, for example, to make an appointment for dinner.
Between classes it is normal for students to establish a conversation about what they have studied or the work that they must present to a teacher.
When a teacher announces that he is going to take an exam, students often ask him about the syllabus and other related matters. The teacher responds to doubts, thus establishing a type of bilateral communication.
Chatting or participating in social networks are other examples of this type of conversation. The distance does not matter, but that there is a sender and a receiver that interact and exchange roles at various times.

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