If you want to have meaningful relationships and valuable friendships, you need to develop great listening skills. We all like to be heard but find it harder to listen. The best communicators are those who understand the value of active listening.
Listening to understand, engaging with the person talking, making eye contact, being focused on what they are saying, not interrupting someone while they are speaking, all of these are really important and sometimes quite difficult to do. It is common that during a conversation, we are already making assumptions about the person or what they are saying or we are eager to interject and tell them our own story as relates to what they are saying.
Most of us confuse listening with hearing. Hearing is not the same thing as listening, we can hear the sounds someone is making and even the words but we may not be processing the information. Our minds can easily wander and we may get distracted by noise or something else. If we really want to connect with someone, we need to show them that we are interested in what they have to say and we need to get to know them properly as well. We can do this by cultivating the art of active listening and empathy.
Remember your ears will never get you in trouble but your mouth might, so listen more and talk less.