Mostly, we say we’re listening to others, but we’re hardly listening at all.
Mostly, we’re listening to ourselves, even when we look silent. We’re attending to our own inner dialogue, or inner critic, to our judgements about what we think is being said and, very often, to the part of us that has already decided what we’re going to say next.
While we’re listening to all this inner chatter we look, superficially, like we’re listening to the speaker. But we know, really, that we’re not.
Real listening involves a radical move: quieting ourselves inside, and setting aside our own concerns for a while. Then we can meet the other as an other, not as a problem to be solved, a way of bolstering our self-esteem, or an obstacle to be overcome.