Everybody wants to be a good listener. Actually, I think deep down everyone thinks they are great listeners. It is easy to pass as one, at least in theory. All you have to do is keep quiet when the other person is talking. But then they say something that you can relate to, like how they went skiing over the weekend. Now you want to tell them how you went too a couple weeks ago and that it was the biggest snow storm of the year. But you can't say it because they are still talking. You don't want to be a bad listener now do you? So you start thinking, "uhuhing", and waiting for them to finish talking so you can tell your story too. You are no longer paying attention. Just waiting for a long enough pause so you can take over the conversation.
We all do it. I find myself doing way too often. Sometimes I catch myself, then try I to convince the "me" to be a good listener and run all the reasons why I should be listening in my head, maybe this person has some good stories or ideas, I would never know if i don't listen. All the while, the other person is still talking and I am ignoring.
OK! I admit it, even though we are blessed with two ears, listening is hard. Focusing on the idea of listening itself while listening is even more complicated. Have you ever thought about the way you walk while walking? The more you focus on it you start losing balance, forget which arm to swing forward, if both right arm and right leg goes together, and if you keep at it you might find your self in a ditch.
Don't spend too much time thinking when you are talking with someone. There is a great quote that I will not remember today but it goes like this, "If someone is telling you his idea, then it must be important enough for him to want to share it with you." So you should give some respect to the person talking to you. And by that, I don't mean waiting for that long pause, but to actually pay attention to what they have to say. Maybe you agree, maybe disagree with them. But you won't know unless you are paying attention. Unless you hear what they have to say, you are just juggling the thoughts in your head and not learning anything new.
Talking too much can come back to bite you. You probably experienced this before. Someone is obviously lying to you but can't stop talking. They keep talking until they end up contradicting them self. Maybe you yourself make this mistake.
We have strong beliefs about ourselves. We say things like I am not the kind of person that does this or that, I take shit from no one, or I don't care what people think of me. More often then not, it is a lie. These are things we want to be. We want to believe it, we are just looking at our self from an idealistic point of view. If you want to know yourself better, look at your surrounding. Look at the effect you have on people. You can't get their point of view while you are blabbing. Listen to what they want to tell you, maybe they want to tell you how you are to them.
So if you want to be a good listener, then shut up and let me tell you a story.