If you are unable to focus, in a sustained manner, on the words, meaning and body language of the speaker, you will have trouble really “getting” what the speaker is communicating. In term of the Common Tables experience, you cannot be a good listener if:
- you are judging the speaker and/or the speaker’s belief system while he/she is speaking. Time you spend in judgment is going to interfere with the goal of understanding the speaker from the speaker’s perspective.
- you allow your attention to drift while the other person is speaking.
- you spend most of the other person’s conversational time waiting for a chance to ask someone to pass the mashed potatoes.
- you are mentally rehearsing your response and eagerly waiting for “your turn” to speak.