Lesson 2 of 7 - learn to communicate effectively

Use "Awareness Bubbles"
to Communicate Better

Where are you focusing?

By Peter K. Gerlach, MSW
Member NSRC Experts Council


The Web address of this article is https://sfhelp.org/cx/tools/bubble.htm

Updated  01-11-2015

      Clicking underlined links here will open a new window. Other links will open  an informational popup, so please turn off your browser's popup blocker or allow popups from this nonprofit Web site. If your playback device doesn't support Javascript, the popups may not display. Follow underlined links after finishing this article to avoid getting lost.

      This is one of the articles in Lesson 2 - learn communication basics and seven powerful skills to get more needs met more often. Progress with this Lesson depends on simultaneous progress on Lesson 1 - free your wise true Self to guide your personality in calm and conflictual times.

      This brief YouTube video summarizes what you'll read here. The video mentions eight self-improvement lessons in this Web site - I've simplified that to seven:

      This article describes a powerful dynamic that affects communication outcomes between any two people. Awareness of this dynamic will help you to avoid and resolve some communication problems.

      The article assumes you're familiar with...

   Awareness "Bubbles"

      Premises: Any perceived attitude or behavior in person "A" that causes a "significant" mental, emotional, physical, or spiritual effect in person "B" is "communication." Intentional communication aims to fill one or more current needs. When people communicate, each partner unconsciously maintains a flexible "bubble" of awareness. Of four types of bubble, only one promotes effective communication by implying genuine mutual respect. See which of these four situations best describes typical communication sequences between you and key adults and kids.

 1)  Each person focuses only on their own needs. Their awareness bubble includes only themselves at the moment i.e. my thoughts, feelings, body, and needs, or all of these. Either partner may decode this "one-person bubble" as disrespectful (being ignored by the other). Frequent 1-person bubbles suggest a false self is in control.


 2)  One partner has a 1-person bubble and the other partner is equally aware of the thoughts, feelings, and needs of each of them - i.e. s/he has a "two-person bubble." When either partner feels ignored (excluded from their partner's bubble), s/he may feel frustrated and disrespected, and stop listening - tho s/he may pretend otherwise.


3)  Neither partner is aware of their or their partner's current thoughts, feelings, or their communication and other needs. They each focus "somewhere else," like the past, the future, or another person, place, idea, or event. As long as neither person needs to feel acknowledged (respected) by the other and/or to make "personal contact," these "no-person bubbles" may feel mutually OK.

      Wounded, unaware adults and kids often overfocus on their own needs or other people's needs - i.e. they habitually maintain ineffective 1-person bubbles. Reducing inner wounds ( Lesson 1 here) automatically promotes a more balanced [me + you + us] interpersonal focus.

      In important personal and business communications, the best option occurs when...

 4)  Each partner (a) has a stable two-person bubble, (b) a genuine mutual-respect attitude, and (c) wants to fill each person's current communication and other needs equally. Then mutual awareness of effective communication skills promotes filling each person's current needs well enough if their respective true Selves are guiding their personalities.


      To assess awareness bubbles in your communications, look for traits like these:

      An adult or child with a 1-person bubble will...

  • frequently use the words "I, me, my, myself, or mine;"

  • monolog - focus mainly on their own experiences, feelings, opinions, and needs;

  • talk or text nonstop, and/or repeatedly interrupt their partner to re-focus on themselves;

  • may give little or no eye contact to their partner;

  • rarely ask their partner questions - or will ask, out of duty or politeness rather than real interest;

  • show little or no empathy for their partner;

  • rarely or never use hearing checks;and/or s/he will...

  • tend to use many of these communication blocks; and...

  • show subtle or obvious impatience or disinterest when their partner talks.

  • Typical Grown Wounded Children will deny, discount, apologize for, or justify these 1-bubble traits rather than seek to correct them.

      If their communication partner is self-aware, s/he will feel increasingly unheard, talked at, disrespected, bored, and frustrated. This will continue until s/he decides to confront the speaker or end their exchange. 

      People who maintain a 2-person bubble will...

  • spontaneously use the words "I, me, my, mine, myself, you, your, yourself, us, we, and our" equally during a typical conversation;

  • consistently encourage dialogs (two-way exchanges) vs. monologs;

  • seldom interrupt their partner unless s/he monologs, rambles, or repeats too much;

  • use or ask for hearing checks to confirm their understanding; and s/he will...

  • maintain comfortable eye contact during a face-to-face encounter;

  • feel and exhibit genuine interest in, and respect and empathy for, their partner; and...

  • periodically ask their partner sincere, questions about their thoughts, feelings, and needs, and will usually really listen and respond empathically to their answers; 

       When their true Self guides them, people experiencing a genuine (vs. dutiful), stable 2-person bubble will enjoy and initiate conversations, feel well-heard and well-respected, and will feel comfortable with some self-disclosure and intimacy as the relationship grows.  

      Noticing and discussing awareness bubbles is part of the powerful communication skills of awareness and metatalk. Requesting a partner to shift to a stable two-person bubble requires (a) your true Self to guide you, and (b) fluency in assertion + listening + problem-solving skills (Lesson 2).

       Think of the key kids and adults in your life one at a time. Which of these four "bubble types" do you usually have with them? What might happen to your key relationships if you decided to coach yourself and invite other people to choose stable two-person bubbles together?

Status Check:  choose which of these best describes you now...

  • This awareness-bubble concept has [ little / moderate / great ] value.

  • I am [ never / rarely / occasionally / often / always ] aware of my and my partner's awareness-bubbles in important communications.

  • I am [ never / rarely / occasionally / often / always ] aware of my and my partner's R(espect)-messages in important communications.

  • I [ never / rarely / occasionally / often / always ] maintain a two-person bubble in important social situations.

  • I am [ not / moderately / very ] motivated to become more aware of awareness bubbles now.

  • I want to share this concept now with __________________  (who?)

  • My true Self is responding to this status check. (If not, who is?)


      This article illustrates four types of "awareness bubble" that can help or hinder verbal or written communication between people. Awareness spans a person's current thoughts + values + emotions + needs. The four types are...

  • either person can focus only on themselves in the present - a 1-person bubble; or...

  • one person can focus on both people (a 2-person bubble) while the other focuses on themselves or elsewhere; or...

  • both people can maintain 2-person bubbles (the best option), or...

  • both people focus on the past, future, and/or someone else - a "no-person bubble."  

      When communication problems occur, one thing to be aware of is whether each partner is experiencing a stable 2-person bubble or not. If not, use Lesson-2 skills to correct that. If this problem persists, someone's true Self is probably disabled. See this.  

      Pause, breathe, and reflect - why did you read this article? Did you get what you needed? If not, what do you need? Who's answering these questions - your true Self, or ''someone else''?

   Learn something about yourself with this anonymous 1-question poll

This article was very helpful  somewhat helpful  not helpful   

Share/Bookmark  Prior page  /  Lesson 2


 site intro  /  course outline  /  site search  /  definitions  /  chat contact