This is a skill that I am working diligently to improve. I was never taught, in my family of origin, to do this. I was talked at instead of spoken to and so I learned at a very early age to disengage from people speaking to me. In the alternative moments, I learned to argue and defend. Learning to be silent, peaceful, centered, and present has been a life long lesson for me. I share this because I think this is a human crisis ... and a crisis that in the very least handicaps relationships with people we love and in the worst case scenario can cause a war.
I have found the best method to learning to accomplish this skill is to listen when it really does not matter...although that is a contradiction in itself. Each time someone is speaking to us, it matters. I am referring to the degree of importance. It is challenging to be silent and present when reciprocity is not present. In other words, if it is someone speaking to you who does not have this skill either, it can be challenging. Especially when that someone is in a personal relationship with you. But practicing when you find yourself in mundane situations can strengthen the muscle. It is a bit like going to they gym. It works!
Simply think of the last time you "checked out" in front of someone. We can, in this age of technology, all claim busy lives. It is easy to become distracted by email, phones, beeping cars, coffee makers, washers and dryers, technology fingers that jab us in the arm until we listen!! It is easy to place more importance on that unfinished task list. Think of it this way...the someone speaking with you is asking you to share their life, their world. It is an invitation to come into their circle. Maybe their circle is not so interesting or deep or relevant to your world. But it is an invitation for connection. If you want to change your marriage, your friendships, your parenting, practice when it doesn't matter as much so when it does, you will be able to hear. And your voice will be able to be heard...because the person knows you care.