Being a good communicator is an attribute that invariably finds its way onto every list of highly desirable qualities for any project manager, worldwide. And with good reason: Communication plays a critically important role in Project Management. If you do not communicate with your team, they will not know what they are supposed to do, or when. And, in turn, if you do not know what your team is doing, you will not be able to monitor the progress of your project, which will then lead to failure of the project. 

You need to be able to maintain open and accurate communication channels with all levels of a project, including project members and stakeholders—starting from the bottom all the way to the top. Communicating insufficient or unclear information can lead to faulty assumptions and poor quality of work while overloading a stakeholder with information can lead to them shutting you off.

Communication that is interactive and relies on either nonverbal, verbal, written, contextual, or subjective components, to convey a message and to rely on the same to attain feedback is effective communication.

Now, let's get started with the topic "Project Management: Interactive Vs. Push Vs. Pull Communication"

The PMBOK® Guide identifies 3 types of communication:

1. Interactive Communication
2. Push Communication
3. Pull Communication

Interactive Communication

Interactive Communication is a fairly self-explanatory term. As the name suggests, it is a multidirectional form of communication. When you require an immediate response, and when the information you are communicating is sensitive with the possibility of being misinterpreted, you turn to interactive communication. It involves one or more people exchanging thoughts and ideas, where participants respond in real-time.

Project managers prefer in-person interactive communication. When communication is performed over media, like video conferences, phones, meetings, etc., a project manager may not be able to pick up on facial expressions and body language of the stakeholders.

To understand this concept better, consider an example. Let’s say you need to have a meeting with the stakeholders about the progress of a project, or you have a glitch in the project. Interactive communication would be preferred over using mails to convey messages and having them respond by email. Rather than being unsure of what is happening, you’d be better off calling for a meeting or a video conference so you can convey the problem to them and receive feedback.

Examples of Interactive communication:

Any face to Face contacts:

  • Meetings
  • Phone Calls / Conference
  • Video Calls / Conference

Push Communication

This kind of communication is from sender to receiver, and is preferable when you distribute information, yet are not looking for an immediate response—or if the matter you are trying to convey is not urgent or sensitive. However, as soon as the recipient views the message, some action is required.

Push communication includes memos, letters, emails, reports, faxes, etc. It is not face-to-face but is instead typically done through some written medium. The one disadvantage of this type of communication is that the sender can only identify that the message has been successfully sent. Some email systems can notify you when an email has been opened, but this feature can’t guarantee that the recipient has understood the message trying to be communicated.

As another example, you have a technical issue that demands immediate attention, and you alert the tech department of your company to fix it. You email IT, but no one is available that day, so no one received your email. You only know that the mail you wrote has been successfully sent. You do not know if it has been received. You will only know the email has been received when desktop support comes to fix the problem.

Examples of Push communication:

  • Letters
  • Memos
  • Emails

Pull Communication

Pull communication enables the receiver to gain access to information, but it requires the receiver to initiate the communication to obtain the information. Pull communication is appropriate for purely informational communications. Even if the recipients do not read it, the project will not be affected.

Pull communication doesn’t involve pulling in a reader to read your message. Instead, pull communication is all about providing group access to common information. The receiver, however, must recover this information. This method is used for a large audience who require access to information for their use.

When your communication is informational, make use of this kind of information. If a receiver does not read your message, it will in no way affect the project. Since information will be accessed only when the need arises, pull communication is known to be the most appropriate kind of communication. Methods of pull communication include posting information on websites, wikis, knowledge repositories, bulletin boards, etc.

A sample pulls communication scenario would be when you have enrolled in one of Simplilearn’s project management courses. You need access to more information about the subject, and you begin to search for relevant information from the Articles/eBooks that are available on our website.

Examples of Pull communication:

  • Websites
  • Bulletin board

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Next, let's have a look at the differences between Project Management: Interactive Vs. Push Vs. Pull Communication

Communication Styles Differences

Below is a table that describes and compares Interactive Vs. Push Vs. Pull Communication in project management.

  Interactive Communication Push Communication Pull Communication
Definition – What it is Involves one or more people exchanging thoughts and ideas and responding in real-time Sender to receiver type communication – usually some barrier in between Providing information that is accessible to all members – but they must retrieve this information
Nature of Communication Sensitive and urgent Casual – not so important Informational purpose - casual
Required Action Immediate response required Immediate action not required but once recipient notices message must take some action No action required
Media to communicate Video conferences, phones, meetings, etc Memos, Letters, Emails, Reports, Faxes, etc websites, knowledge repositories, bulletin boards, etc
Example An important meeting with stakeholders over a video conference Sending a mail to the tech team to fix a problem but not receiving an immediate response Browsing through websites for information

That was all about the differences between Interactive Vs. Push Vs. Pull Communication.

Sample Questions

Here are some sample questions you may see on your PMP certification exam.

  1. What term describes the information that is sent to recipients at their request via Web sites, bulletin boards, eLearning, knowledge repositories like blogs, and other means?
    a. Push communications
    b. Pull communications
    c. Interactive communications
    d. Customer communications

  2. Communication between two or more parties performing multi-directional exchange of information is called ______?
    a. Interactive communication
    b. Pull communication
    c. Push communication
    d. Multi-directional communication

  3. You need to resolve a workplace conflict involving several members of your project team. Which communication technique is best suited for this?
    a. Pull Communication
    b. E-mail
    c. Interactive Communication
    d. Push Communication


If you are considering working toward your PMP exam, Simplilearn offers a variety of project management courses that will help you pass, including the PMP Certification Training Course. Our PMP training courses are conducted by certified, highly experienced professionals with at least 10 years of experience.

Hope you like the article on Interactive Vs. Push Vs. Pull Communication., in case of doubts please leave a comment below.

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