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video explains several things you can do with the
keystone communication skill of awareness
This is one of a series of articles
in Lesson 2 - learn communication basics and seven powerful
to get more daily needs met more often. Progress with this Lesson
depends on concurrent progress on Lesson 1 - empower your
wise true Self to guide your personality in calm and conflictual
The unique guidebook
(Xlibris.com, 2nd ed., 2010) integrates the key
Web articles in this nonprofit Web site, and provides many
Our warp-speed, hyper-stimulating culture discourages developing personal
awareness of the vital worlds within and around us. Once aware of this unawareness and
motivated to reduce it, people (like you) can intentionally grow more aware.
Part of this growth is intentionally becoming more
aware of the communication dynamics and
outcomes within and around you. This foundation ability underlies all six related communication
The alternative is
unawareness - one of
five relationship hazards.
article assumes you're familiar with:
intro to this
nonprofit Web site and the
Tailor and use
this exercise periodically to expand your communication
awarenesses. Read this whole practice outline first, to get the "big
picture." Then pick a partner who shares your interest in growing communication
effectiveness. Minimize distractions, and set aside 20” - 30” or so.
Adopt the open mind of a student, and let go of
any need to criticize or blame anyone – starting with you.
about communication awareness will do little for you. Trying it
can do a lot!
from one (I'm usually
unaware of what's going on in and around me)
to ten (I'm consistently
yourself in calm ___ and stressful ___ situations.
Option - try this
dig-down practice before or after this
exercise, and discuss it with your partner.
Find an undistracting space together with enough privacy. Sit
facing each other comfortably. Bring a copy of this exercise and some
Each of you recall a recent important conversation with someone else -
at home, work, or other - that you're willing to share with your exercise
partner. Pick a conversation between you and one other where you feel that the
energy and/or outcome was "significant."
Decide who will talk first. The speaker's job is to be themselves, and
describe their communication incident naturally, in about 5".
listener's job is to observe the speaker nonjudgmentally, like a reporter,
using a copy of this worksheet to record impressions about their partner's
communication process. Minimize or avoid questions and comments. Each of you notice
nonjudgmentally how you feel as the practice unfolds.
After ~ 5",
wrap up. Listener, go back over the incident with the speaker,
and help them clearly answer the eight awareness questions below.
to be a researcher and facilitator, not a healer. You don't need to be right
here. The goal here is to help each other notice the processesin and
between you – i.e. to grow your communication awarenesses.
When you both feel done enough, reverse roles and repeat these steps.
Take about 15 minutes or more for each half.
have time, assess these eight focus areas in the debriefing
process you've just shared together. Again: this is not about
right-wrong (blaming) or competition - It's about getting main communication
needs met in a way that feels good enough to both of you. Note and discuss
special learnings you want to remember from this experience.
1) Key - who was
guiding ach person -
their true Self or a false self?
2) What did each of you
need in this situation, and did your communication needs
mesh or clash?
3) What main
R(espect)-messages did each person get from their partner during this exchange?
4) Was each person's
E(motion)-level "above or below their ears" during the exchange?
5) Did either person in the situation seem to send or
6) Was either communication partner in this
situation significantly distracted?
7) Were both people able to maintain a
two-person "awareness bubble" during the exchange?
8) Did both people feel they
got their main needs met
"well enough" in a way that felt "good enough"?
detail on each of these...
Awareness 1) -
probably guiding each person – their
(capital "S") or
(a false self)? When your
other subselves steadily trust your resident Self to guide them, you'll usually feel some mix of
alive, awake, aware, focused, resilient, grounded, light, "up," strong,
confident, purposeful, balanced,
alert, centered, and compassionate.
distrustful subselves (a false self) are in charge, you feel some mix of the reverse of those –
anxious, unclear, upset, unsure, “heavy,” cloudy, hesitant,
defensive, unfocused, distracted, frustrated, impatient, wary, tense, numb, confused, sarcastic, "down,"
apathetic, and so on.
Another way of judging is by using this
comparison of behaviors.
Notice what it feels like to mull who
led your respective teams of subselves. This is a vital awareness to attain in all important solo and social situations. Have you ever heard of it before? Do your kids and key others know
about it? When false selves dominate, thinking and communicating effectiveness
Awareness 2) -
People communicate to
reduce current discomforts (needs).Which of these did you each
this practice situation?
_ To keep or build
respect (usually always
present), plus one or more of these…
_ To give or get
information (vs. emotions);
cause action (what?________________), and/or
to feel potent or powerful;
vent (be heard, understood, and accepted);
cause excitement (end boredom), or distract
from something; and/or…
like awkward silence, or a painful awareness, conflict,
Did your communication needs
match well enough? By
If not, what did each person do about this mismatch - e.g. deny it,
ignore it, joke, intellectualize, argue, manipulate, whine, discuss,
Option: if you practice-partners are both aware of the difference
between surface and primary needs, note and discuss
whether the people in the speaker’s situation (a) could have benefited
"digging down" to identify their
primary needs; and if so, whether
they (b) identified them, and (c) acted to fill them or not.
- What was the main R(espect)-message each partner received from the other person during this exchange:
“I’m 1-up (superior),"
“I’m 1-down (inferior)," or...
“I see our needs and
dignity as co-equal here (mutual respect)?”
Were the R-messages
received the same ones that were sent?
Were these partners aware
of their R-messages?
- E(motion)-levels and the communication skills used: How would you judge the E-levels of
each partner over the span of your exchange:
“Above the ears” (so they can't hear
the other person well),
“Below the ears” (they probably can hear
With their combination of E-levels,
which of the seven communication
skills do you think each partner should have used to get their main communication
needs met? What skills did they use?
Did anyone's E-level
rise or fall during the exchange? If so, How
did the other person react – i.e. did they shift to
empathic listening, or do something else?
Were these communication partners aware of their E-levels and how to use
- Did either of the people in the situation seem to send or receive
double messages - e.g. did their
words say "Yes," while tone, face, hands, body, or other
non-verbals said "Maybe" or "No"? If so, who said
Frequent and/or major double messages usually indicate a false self is
and focusing: How likely is it that either communication
partner in this situation was significantly distracted...
If so, how did the partners seem to handle these distractions?
(e.g. denied or ignored them, reduced them, talked about them, argued about them…)
If either person had an agenda (topic / focus), do you feel
both partners focused well enough on them, or did they lose
their focuses? If so, did either of them notice that?
- were both
people able to maintain a two-person
awareness bubble during their exchange? In
all communications, each person's dominant subselves unconsciously maintain
one or more awareness zones, or "bubbles" enclosing...
me or you now (a one-person bubble),
me and you now (a two-person bubble),
neither of these (a 'no-person') bubble.
Only paired two-person bubbles allow
exchanging genuine empathy and full mutual awarenesses, which are essential
for effective communication. In the target situation,
which of these options did each
partner seem to maintain?
Person "A" -
Person "B" -
Do you think each of them were
of their respective bubbles? _ yes _ no _ I don't know
outcomes: Was this effective
(vs. "open and honest") communication?
Did both people get their respective
communication needs met enough
(in their opinion)? If not,
Did they both feel OK enough about (a) themselves,
(b) their partner,
and (c) the communication process they co-created? If not, why?
Notes / thoughts / learnings …
This is one of a series of
articles and communication-skill practices in
The article describes a two-person practice
exercise to raise your awareness of eight important
dynamics that affect communication