“When people talk listen completely. Don’t be thinking what you’re going to say. Most people never listen. Nor do they observe. You should be able to go into a room and when you come out know everything that you saw there and not only that. If that room gave you any feeling you should know exactly what it was that gave you that feeling. Try that for practice.” – Ernest Hemingway
Well I did try that for practice and found it incredibly hard! On the topic of listening better, and from a previous post:
“Very few people are good listeners. A good listener listens slowly to what is being said. He does not jump ahead nor does he rush to judge nor does he sit there formulating his own reply. He focuses directly on what is being said. He listens to more than is being said. He extracts the maximum information from what he hears by looking between the words used and wondering why something has been expressed in a particular way. It is active listening because the listener’s imagination is full of ‘could be’ and ‘may be’ elaborations.” – Edward de Bono
It’s pretty clear why only a few people are particularly good listeners, it’s quite an art and, along the way, requires a lot of practice (or perhaps even a natural inclination).
As a very modest indication of progress, I now occasionally ask myself during conversations ‘am I really listening or just waiting for a chance to speak?’. It does actually make a difference!