I've done it. You probably have, too.
Someone has called you or stopped you on the street to chat. Your child comes home from school to tell you about what happened that day.
You're not really listening. You're continuing to work on whatever problem you are resolving. You may be thinking about what you have to do for the day. Your mind is engaged, elsewhere.
This may or may not be obvious to the listener. At first.
Then, something clicks. They realize that when they speak to you, you're not present. You may be in the past, replaying a discussion or argument. You could be in the future, reviewing tomorrow's agenda. Or, you may just be...lost in the newspaper, a television program or texting.
If this continues for any length of time, you may find that the important people in your life stop telling you things.
Do you really want your children, your spouse or your friend to stop talking to you? When something serious happens, will they trust you to listen?
Inadvertently, you are teaching them. Is this the lesson you intended?
I think there's a reason, the word "ear" can be found in "heart". When you listen from your heart, the other person feels it. They sense that you value what they're saying and you care for them.
Be "hear" now. Step out of your thoughts. Put down the newspaper. Look away from the television. Simply focus on the speaker and open your hEARt. Even for 5 minutes. What is different?
There's another side to this...the speaker's role. That's for another post, though.