So March is international listening month.
I'll admit, the thought of dedicating a month to listening seems a bit silly (and who gets to decide what month is dedicated to what?) But listening is important stuff.
It's easy to think that a conversation is about what we bring to the table. We focus on sharing something that is interesting or funny or exciting, in the hopes that it will draw our partner in.
But you know what? A lot of times, people just want someone to listen to them. And if you prove that you care about your partner by being a good listener, they'll be happy to listen to what you share in return---even if it's not incredibly funny or exciting.
So take the opportunity this month to work on your listening. There's different ways you can do this. You can focus on asking good questions that encourage your partner to share. You can be deliberate to root out interruptions---and if you do catch yourself interrupting, apologize and let your partner finish. You can even ask the people in your life to help you be a better listener, and to let you know in a gentle way when you are doing a poor job of listening.
There's also resources out there to help you improve your listening skills. There is an international listening association (who knew?) that has some worthwhile listening resources. I'm particularly fond of their pdf version of a booklet from the 50s called Listening is a 10 Part Skill. The booklet style is a bit dated, but the advice is well worth a read.
In the comments, let me know your favorite listening tips---or share situations when listening is a challenge for you. And happy international listening month! (Next month is national poetry month, so practice your listening now and you'll be ready to listen attentively at a poetry reading come April!)