Listening is one of my favorite topics. It's something that has historically been challenging for me.
Often I know quite a lot about a topic. And I make assumptions going into a situation. And then my mind runs very quickly towards analysis.
But here's the thing: assumptions mean you listen selectively. You hear only what confirms your biases.
And rushing towards analysis means you've moved to processing when what you should be doing is gathering information. Your mind drowns out what is the most important part of a conversation: what the other person is saying.
Revisit your assumptions by turning them into hypotheses. Assume you don't know what's true. You're seeking to falsify. It's a process of discovery, not confirmation.
And then leave behind your mind by making the other person your sole focus.
This might sound like a metaphor (you're still thinking, aren't you?). But I'm not sure it is a metaphor. I mean get in the zone, the flow, of truly, deeply, actively listening. Be nothing but a sponge to that. Including watching for all those cues that nature has prepped you for: the twitch, the squirm, the grimace, the gesture.
When you feel like you're not understanding, try to slow down the conversation. Smile. Ask open questions. Don't let yourself be led towards reacting. The point is to take it all in, and then create the space to respond.
Walk around a day like that and see whether this makes a difference in your life.
Or, you know, don't - humans don't seem to learn through prescription. Figure out for yourself whether what I've said is true.