One Way, Two Way Communication

Grade Level: 
7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Communication Skills
In this activity participants learn the importance of asking questions and using two-way communication.

Have you ever felt like someone wasn't listening to you? How can you ensure you're an active listener to improve team communications?


15 minutes 


  • One-way and two-way communication drawing worksheets  (Attachment 1)


Round One: One-Way Communication

  1. Divide the group into pairs and explain that the partners will take turns giving instructions to each other. Ask each pair to identify one person as A and one person as B and have them stand or sit back to back. Pass out a drawing of diagram #1 to all the A’s. The activity facilitator will explain that the A’s will give instructions to B’s, so B’s can draw the diagram. The rules for the first round are: 
    • No requests to repeat instructions. 
    • No gestures of any type.  
    • No drawing by the person who is describing.  
    • Only words may be used to describe the diagram.  
  2. As A’s begin to describe the drawing, make sure the rules are followed, and allow a few minutes of drawing time, according to their speed and progress.  
  3. After the first drawing has been described, ask the group:  
    • A’s, what was it like to describe the drawing? What rules made it hard?  
    • B’s, what was frustrating for you? 
  4. Ask the group what could be done differently to help them. Record responses on flip chart. What are some of the themes listed on the flip chart that the group notices?

Round Two: Two-Way Communication

  1. Explain that in the next round B will describe a new drawing to A with these rules:  
    • Questions may be asked.  
    • Instructions may be repeated.  
    • Suggestions may be made about verbally giving the instructions.  
    • No gestures of any type.  
    • No drawing by the person who is describing.  
    • Only words maybe used to describe the diagram. 
  2. After the group is finished drawing, ask them:  
    • Was this round easier? Why?    
    • How did this round make you feel? 
  3. Ask partners to show their drawings to each other to see how close they were with each drawing. 
  4. Conclude by emphasizing the importance of two-way communication in groups. Point out how sometimes conflicts arise in groups because of simple misunderstandings that have no real foundation. Such conflicts are rooted in people using different words to describe the same idea.

Two way communication — asking clarifying questions, giving feedback and listening — allows individuals to clarify their thinking and overcome disagreements.