Has anyone asked you, "If you were really listening to me, what did I say?" Perhaps you are able to 'fudge-it,' but real listening means more than being able to repeat back what your partner/friend said to you. It means to hone in, not to be distracted, give full attention.
When some people drive their automobiles, it is not unusual for them to be multi-tasking: changing channels on their radio, do I dare-say texting, and conversing with passengers. They hear the words, and they may be responding, as well; however, they shouldn't be facing the person or giving full eye contact. Their bodies, again, shouldn't be turned in the speaker's direction. Indicators of non-verbal communication would be difficult to see, and verbal communication is hindered by the driver's need to focus on the real issue, driving safety, road signs and road conditions, the route, speed, stopping distance, and other driving concerns. Add inclement conditions (rain or snow or other slippery conditions) and the driver's focus needs to be 100% on the road. This text isn't about automobile safety; it's an example of how distraction, i.e. attention to driving, inhibits our ability to listen and communicate effectively - - even when we think we are listening.
Listen for the idea or theme that the speaker is conveying. Listen to their tone, cadence and volume. Are they speaking in an excited, raised voice? Do you disagree with something they have said? Allow them to speak their peace before responding. Try to understand where they are coming from before you attempt to prove your point of view. Give full attention and then, and only then, state your response with a follow-up as to why you believe that way.
So this year, let's start anew, let's relax, and really listen, and then speak, and listen, listen and then, MORE LISTENING.
Have a healthy and happy 2017.