How to know if you are really listening

Listening is one of those skills that is promoted widely but is easier said than done.  Whilst you could say we're always listening, the question is, how much do we really hear. 

As someone with a preference for extraversion and talking a lot, I used to be one of those people who mainly heard my own dulcet tones (and still do on a good day!)  A good conversation was measured on how much I had talked, how funny I was, what jokes I had made, how well I'd filled in the gaps of silence and kept conversations going whatever babble came out of my mouth. 

I have to be honest - it has taken me a good number of years to learn to shut up and really begin to listen.  That could be because I'm a slow learner or because it's actually a challenging skill to learn.  Probably more the latter.  Which is why I get annoyed when I read articles telling people how to listen, do a bit of this and that and hey presto, you've cracked it.  If it was that easy, why...

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