Exploring the 4 Types of Communication Matrix




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The Communication Matrix is a valuable tool that assists individuals with severe communication difficulties in finding their path to self-expression. Developed with scientific and clinical principles in mind, this assessment tool encompasses all forms of communication, including alternative forms, pre-symbolic communication, and typical communication. The Communication Matrix focuses on four essential aspects: four reasons for communicating, seven levels of communication, 24 specific messages, and nine behavioral categories.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Communication Matrix provides assistance to individuals with severe communication difficulties.
  • It encompasses all forms of communication, including alternative forms and pre-symbolic communication.
  • The Matrix emphasizes four significant aspects of communication: reasons for communicating, levels of communication, specific messages, and behavioral categories.
  • Understanding the Communication Matrix unlocks pathways to self-expression and communication.
  • The Matrix serves as an invaluable resource for individuals seeking effective communication strategies.

The Four Reasons to Communicate

Effective communication serves various purposes, catering to different needs and objectives. The Communication Matrix recognizes four major reasons that drive individuals to communicate:

  1. Refusal: People communicate to express dissatisfaction or unwillingness to engage in certain actions or situations.
  2. Obtaining: Communication is a means to acquire desired objects, experiences, or outcomes.
  3. Engagement: Social interaction plays a crucial role in human communication, facilitating connection, bonding, and building relationships.
  4. Providing or Seeking Information: Communication is used to impart knowledge, share facts, inquire, or gain insights.

These four reasons serve as communication purposes, guiding individuals in conveying their intentions, emotions, and desires. The Communication Matrix further elaborates on each of these reasons, offering specific messages that people express within these categories.

The Seven Levels of Communication

The Communication Matrix covers seven levels of communication, representing different stages of communication development. These levels encompass various behaviors, methods, and symbols used to convey messages. From pre-intentional behavior to the use of language, each level plays a significant role in communication.

Level 1: Pre-Intentional Behavior

In this stage, communication is not yet intentional. Individuals may show pre-symbolic behaviors such as making sounds or movements without clear meaning. They rely on non-verbal cues and body language to express their needs and emotions.

Level 2: Unconventional Communication

At this level, individuals develop unconventional ways to communicate. They may create their own gestures, signs, or unique methods to convey their thoughts and desires. Communication in this stage may be highly individualized and not easily understood by others.

Level 3: Conventional Communication

Conventional communication involves using commonly recognized symbols and gestures. Individuals in this stage begin to use more conventional methods of communication, such as pointing, nodding, or using simple signs. They can understand and use common social cues to interact with others.

Level 4: Concrete Symbols

In this stage, individuals start to use concrete symbols to communicate. They can associate objects or pictures with specific meanings and use them to express their thoughts and preferences. The use of visual aids and visual schedules can be helpful in supporting communication at this level.

Level 5: Abstract Symbols

Abstract symbol use emerges at this stage, where individuals can understand and express meanings beyond the immediate context. They may use symbols such as icons or written words to communicate thoughts and ideas that are not directly present. This level lays the foundation for more complex language development.

Level 6: Symbolic Language

Symbolic language marks a significant milestone in communication development. Individuals in this stage can express meaning using words, sentences, and grammar rules. They can understand and produce spoken or written language to convey a wide range of messages and engage in meaningful conversations.

Level 7: Abstract Language

The highest level of communication development involves the use of abstract language. Individuals can understand and use idioms, metaphors, and figurative language to express complex thoughts and emotions. Abstract language allows for sophisticated expression and deeper interpersonal connections.

Visual Representation of the Seven Levels of Communication

LevelCommunication Stage
1Pre-Intentional Behavior
2Unconventional Communication
3Conventional Communication
4Concrete Symbols
5Abstract Symbols
6Symbolic Language
7Abstract Language

Understanding these levels helps professionals and caregivers design appropriate interventions and strategies to support individuals in their communication journeys. By recognizing and addressing each stage’s unique characteristics, it becomes possible to foster language development and enhance overall communication skills.

Verbal Communication

Verbal communication is an essential aspect of human interaction, allowing us to express our thoughts, ideas, and emotions through spoken words. The effectiveness of verbal communication depends on various elements such as pitch, tone, pauses, speed, structure, flow, logic, and word choice.

When engaging in verbal communication, the pitch of our voice can convey different meanings and emotions. A high-pitched voice may express excitement or anxiety, while a low-pitched voice can indicate seriousness or authority.

The tone of our voice sets the overall mood of the conversation. A friendly and warm tone creates a welcoming atmosphere, while a harsh or condescending tone can lead to tension and misunderstandings.

Pauses in speech allow for reflection, emphasize specific points, and help the audience absorb information. Strategic use of pauses can enhance the impact and clarity of verbal communication.

The speed at which we speak influences the audience’s comprehension and engagement. Speaking too fast may confuse listeners, while speaking too slowly can bore or frustrate them. Finding a balance in speech speed is crucial for effective communication.

Structuring our message in a logical and coherent manner ensures that our ideas flow smoothly and are easy to understand. A well-organized structure helps listeners follow the conversation and grasp the main points being conveyed.

Flow refers to the smooth transition between ideas, allowing the conversation to progress naturally. When the flow of verbal communication is disrupted or disjointed, it can hinder understanding and engagement.

Logical word choice is essential for clear and effective communication. Selecting appropriate words and avoiding jargon or complex language helps ensure that our message is easily understood by the intended audience.

“Effective verbal communication involves more than the mere delivery of words. It requires the mastery of pitch, tone, pauses, speed, structure, flow, logic, and word choice to convey our message with clarity and inspire others.”

Effective verbal communication establishes a connection between the speaker and the listener. It enables us to express ourselves clearly, convey our ideas convincingly, and inspire others to take action. By honing our skills in verbal communication, we can foster understanding, build relationships, and achieve desired outcomes.

Elements of Verbal CommunicationDescription
PitchThe highness or lowness of our voice, which conveys meaning and emotions.
ToneThe mood or attitude expressed through our voice, influencing how our message is received.
PausesStrategically placed breaks in speech, allowing for emphasis and absorption of information.
SpeedThe rate at which we speak, impacting comprehension and engagement.
StructureThe organization and order in which ideas are presented, facilitating understanding.
FlowThe smooth transition between ideas, ensuring conversation progression.
Word ChoiceThe selection of appropriate and understandable language for effective communication.

Non-Verbal Communication

Non-verbal communication is a fundamental component of human interaction. While verbal communication relies on spoken or written words, non-verbal communication encompasses various channels that convey messages without the use of language. It includes body language, facial expressions, gestures, eye contact, and physical distance.

Non-verbal communication serves to reinforce verbal messages and provides valuable feedback to others. It can convey emotions, attitudes, and intentions, often more accurately than words alone. By paying attention to non-verbal cues, individuals can gain a deeper understanding of the underlying meaning behind the spoken message.

Body language plays a significant role in non-verbal communication. It refers to the movement, posture, and positioning of the body, reflecting thoughts, emotions, and attitudes. For example, crossed arms may indicate defensiveness or resistance, while open gestures can signal receptiveness and engagement.

Facial expressions are another crucial aspect of non-verbal communication. Our faces are incredibly expressive and can convey a wide range of emotions, including happiness, sadness, surprise, and anger. For instance, a smile can indicate friendliness and warmth, while a furrowed brow may indicate confusion or concern.

Gestures are physical movements that convey meaning and add emphasis to verbal messages. They can include hand gestures, nods, or head shakes. Pointing, for example, can direct attention to a specific object, while a thumbs-up gesture can indicate approval or agreement.

Eye contact is a powerful non-verbal cue that conveys interest, sincerity, and connection. Maintaining eye contact during a conversation shows attentiveness and engagement. Conversely, avoiding eye contact may indicate discomfort, disinterest, or dishonesty.

Physical distance, also known as proxemics, is yet another non-verbal communication element. It refers to the physical space maintained between individuals during interactions. Different cultures have varying norms and expectations regarding personal space. For example, some cultures value close physical proximity during conversations, while others prefer more distance.

Non-verbal communication has a profound impact on communication and relationships. It can reinforce or contradict verbal messages, influence perceptions, and establish rapport. Being aware of non-verbal cues and understanding their significance enhances communication effectiveness and helps build stronger connections with others.

Non-Verbal Communication ChannelsDescription
Body LanguageMovement, posture, and positioning of the body.
Facial ExpressionsExpressions on the face that convey emotions and attitudes.
GesturesPhysical movements that add emphasis to verbal messages.
Eye ContactVisual connection through direct gaze.
Physical DistanceSpace between individuals during interactions.

Visual Communication

Visual communication is a powerful tool for conveying meaning and information. By utilizing images, it becomes easier to capture attention, engage viewers, and enhance understanding. Visual aids play a significant role in presentations, allowing complex concepts to be simplified and communicated effectively. Graphs and charts provide visual representations of data, making it easier to grasp key insights and trends. Videos can be used to deliver engaging narratives, helping to convey information in a compelling and memorable way.

When used strategically, visual communication can have a profound impact on the audience. It appeals to the human visual system, which is highly adept at processing images quickly and retaining information. Visual aids and presentations can provide a visual context for the information being presented, making it more relatable and easier to comprehend.

The use of visual communication can also enhance engagement by creating a visually appealing and dynamic experience. When information is presented in a visually stimulating manner, it captures the viewer’s attention and encourages active participation. This can lead to increased retention and understanding of the content being communicated.

Benefits of Visual Communication:

  • Conveys meaning: Visuals have the power to convey complex ideas and concepts in a simple and understandable way.
  • Enhances understanding: Visual aids help break down information into digestible chunks, making it easier for audiences to grasp key messages.
  • Captures attention: Images and videos are attention-grabbing, ensuring that the audience remains engaged throughout the communication.
  • Provides context: Visuals offer a visual context to support the information being presented, improving comprehension and retention.

Overall, visual communication serves as an effective tool for conveying information, capturing attention, enhancing understanding, and encouraging engagement. By incorporating visual elements into communication strategies, individuals and organizations can create powerful and compelling messages that resonate with their target audience.

Visual Communication ToolsBenefits
Visual aids in presentations (e.g., slides, infographics)Enhances engagement, simplifies complex information, supports key messages
Graphs and chartsVisual representation of data, easy identification of trends and patterns
VideosEngaging and memorable delivery of information, storytelling

Written Communication

Written communication is a vital form of expressing ideas, sharing information, and conveying messages. It encompasses various mediums such as emails, text messages, reports, and presentations. Effective written communication plays a crucial role in professional and personal settings, allowing individuals to express themselves clearly and concisely.

When engaging in written communication, it is essential to prioritize clarity. Choosing the right words and structuring sentences effectively ensures that your message is easily understood by the reader. Additionally, organizing your content in a logical manner helps maintain coherence and readability.

Consideration of the reader’s perspective is another key aspect of written communication. Tailoring your message to align with the reader’s knowledge and understanding enhances comprehension and engagement. It is crucial to anticipate and address potential questions or concerns, providing the reader with the necessary information to grasp the intended meaning.

Quotes about written communication:

“The written word can be a powerful tool for influencing, educating, and inspiring others.” – Jane Smith

“In our digital age, written communication has become more prevalent than ever, with emails and text messages being the primary means of interaction.” – John Doe

In the business world, written communication takes various forms. Below is a comparison of different types of written communication:

EmailsConveying information, requesting actionSending project updates, requesting feedback
Text MessagesQuick communication, sharing updatesCoordinating meeting times, providing status updates
ReportsAnalyzing data, presenting findingsQuarterly financial reports, market research analysis
PresentationsConveying information, engaging an audienceDelivering a sales pitch, sharing research findings

These are just a few examples of how written communication is utilized in different contexts. Each form of written communication serves a specific purpose and requires attention to detail to ensure effective delivery of the message.

Overall, written communication is a powerful tool for conveying ideas, sharing information, and building connections. By mastering the art of written communication, individuals can effectively express themselves and engage their audience in various settings.

Why Communication Types Matter

Effective communication is essential in any organization, as it serves as the foundation for understanding, engagement, and productivity. It plays a crucial role in shaping corporate culture and can have a direct impact on employee satisfaction and performance. By understanding different communication types and utilizing them effectively, businesses can create a thriving environment that fosters collaboration and success.

When it comes to corporate culture, communication types can either strengthen or weaken it. Clear and open communication channels promote transparency and trust within the organization. Employees feel valued and engaged when they have opportunities to express themselves and contribute their ideas. On the other hand, ineffective communication can lead to misunderstandings, conflicts, and a lack of cohesiveness within the team.

To achieve effective communication, organizations need to develop a comprehensive HR strategy that emphasizes the importance of communication skills and provides training and support to employees. By investing in communication development programs, businesses can equip their workforce with the necessary tools to convey their messages clearly, both verbally and in writing.

Productivity also relies heavily on effective communication. When team members can communicate clearly and efficiently, tasks are completed more accurately and in a timely manner. Miscommunication, on the other hand, can lead to errors, delays, and frustration. By fostering a culture of effective communication, organizations can enhance their overall productivity and efficiency.

It is important to note that communication is a two-way process. Listening and understanding are equally important as speaking and conveying messages. By encouraging active listening and providing feedback, organizations can ensure that messages are received and interpreted correctly, promoting a healthy and collaborative work environment.

Key Takeaways:

  • Effective communication improves understanding, engagement, and productivity.
  • Communication types play a crucial role in shaping corporate culture.
  • Investing in communication development programs enhances employee skills.
  • Effective communication enhances productivity and efficiency.
  • Active listening and feedback are essential for successful communication.

By recognizing the importance of communication types and implementing strategies to promote effective communication, organizations can create a thriving work environment where employees feel valued, engaged, and empowered to contribute their best.


Effective communication is crucial for successful collaboration and achieving goals in both personal and professional settings. Throughout this article, we explored the four types of communication – verbal, non-verbal, visual, and written – and their significance in conveying messages.

Verbal communication involves the spoken word, encompassing elements such as pitch, tone, pauses, and word choice. Non-verbal communication, on the other hand, relies on body language, facial expressions, gestures, eye contact, and physical distance to reinforce the message being conveyed.

Visual communication utilizes images and visual aids to convey meaning and information, which can enhance understanding and engagement. Lastly, written communication utilizes written words in various forms such as emails, text messages, reports, and presentations, requiring clarity, organization, and consideration of the reader’s perspective.

Understanding and utilizing these varied communication types can lead to more meaningful and impactful interactions. By harnessing the power of effective communication, individuals can foster better understanding, collaboration, and productivity, while shaping a positive corporate culture that promotes satisfaction and performance among employees. Ultimately, mastering the art of effective communication is vital for achieving personal and professional success.


What is the Communication Matrix?

The Communication Matrix is an assessment tool designed to help individuals with severe communication difficulties find a way to express themselves. It encompasses all types of communication, including alternative forms and pre-symbolic communication, as well as typical communication.

What are the four major reasons to communicate in the Communication Matrix?

The four major reasons for communication in the Communication Matrix are refusing things we don’t want, obtaining things we do want, engaging in social interaction, and providing or seeking information. Each reason includes 24 specific messages that people can express.

What are the seven levels of communication in the Communication Matrix?

The Communication Matrix covers seven levels of communication, which represent different stages of communication development. These levels range from pre-intentional behavior to using language, including unconventional communication methods, conventional communication methods, and the use of concrete and abstract symbols.

What is verbal communication?

Verbal communication refers to the way we speak out loud and convey our message. It includes elements such as pitch, tone, pauses, speed, and word choice. Effective verbal communication involves clarity, structure, and the ability to inspire others.

What is non-verbal communication?

Non-verbal communication encompasses body language, facial expressions, gestures, eye contact, and physical distance. It reinforces verbal communication and provides feedback to others. Non-verbal cues can have a significant impact on communication and relationships.

What is visual communication?

Visual communication involves using images to convey meaning and information. It can include visual aids in presentations, graphs, charts, videos, and other visual elements. Visual communication enhances understanding and engagement.

What is written communication?

Written communication involves the use of written words to convey messages. It includes emails, text messages, reports, and presentations. Effective written communication requires clarity, organization, and consideration of the reader’s perspective.

Why do communication types matter?

Communication types matter because effective communication improves understanding, engagement, and productivity. It plays a crucial role in shaping corporate culture and can have a direct impact on employee satisfaction and performance. Different types of communication have unique roles in conveying messages and fostering meaningful interactions.

How can understanding different communication types be beneficial?

Understanding and utilizing different communication types, such as verbal, non-verbal, visual, and written communication, can lead to more meaningful and impactful interactions. It allows individuals to adapt their communication style to different situations and effectively convey their message to others.

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