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“Listening” by Devon Sweeney & Dr. Eric Pappas

Have you ever taken a step back from your every day conversation to notice your communication habits? You know, how much time you spend talking, and how much others speak in a conversation.  Everyone occupies some part of the conversational spectrum—some of us are always talking, others of us like to keep quiet most of the time.  But have you ever thought about how much you truly listen to others? It’s not that you’re just casually “hearing” others, but are listening with interest to what others are saying?

It’s true that we all sometimes get caught up in our heads, listening to the constant chatter of our own thoughts, and don’t bother to listen in a respectful manner. That chatter can often be so distracting that we can’t fully engage in a healthy conversational flow, because we are so concerned with telling our own story.  It’s just simply not ALWAYS your turn to talk, even though you might think it so.

A good conversation is hard to find.  Some of us might not even really realize what a good conversation consists of.  Conversation requires give and take, and by listening attentively, we can get to know others better.  If one person is dominating the conversation, how can there be a positive and interesting exchange of ideas, opinions, or information?  When someone feels heard, it can be very satisfying. One cannot expect others to hear them if they are not listening to others in the first place.  And don’t we all just love it (and feel valued) when others listen attentively to what we are saying…without changing the conversation to talk about themselves?

Listening is more important to relationships than one might think.  One can always benefit from listening more because it allows the conversation to be rich and more dynamic.  Listening deeply can allow you to get to the real meaning of what a person is saying, instead of just hearing the surface level information.  Connecting with another person through conversation becomes a reality when we can truly tune in.  Relationships grow and strengthen when people learn to listen to each other and converse skillfully and sensitively.

Listening can give us a better understanding of ourselves and others.  So why not pay attention to how well you listen today?  You might be surprised to find that most of us don’t listen that much at all.  It can be a challenge to step back and hold your tongue, but the benefits are great.  It just takes a little effort to get started…by becoming more and more aware of your role in conversations.  You can even begin to be a more skilled conversationalist and steer conversations in different directions, not in a negative manipulative way, but rather in a way that includes enriching or deepening conversations. It makes validates your relationships when you ask your friends about things that interest or concern them. This is common sense, no?

The solution is to become more aware of your contribution and your receptivity in any conversation. What can you learn from being a bit quieter? Try just stepping back and listening more, engaging in lively conversations where you don’t always have to get the last word (or the only words).  Just know, this will lead to big discoveries!  You may learn something new about your friends that you never took the time to hear before.

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59 thoughts on ““Listening” by Devon Sweeney & Dr. Eric Pappas”

  1. Listening to others is a big component in life because we can help someone overcome a situation simply by letting them talk to us. It brings people together. Sometimes it is hard to listen to others because we all have our tough times and need someone to talk about them too. But if we can all wait, and do some good to to others, that might help us figure out how to solve our own problems.

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    1. While reading this article it made me think a lot about the conversations I have with people. I am more of a quiet person that likes to listen and ask more questions to the person then having to share my personal feelings with them. I think maybe by trying to work on sharing more in a conversation I will learn to become better at conversation and this may help me in the future and even now.

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  2. This article enhanced my understanding of a few points that weren’t completely clear to me while doing the Listening Project for class. This article helped me recognize how listening is crucial to relationships and how people interact. I learned more about my social sustainability and how I can improve it by listening more in every conversation. After reading this article and doing the Listening Project I have been trying to talk less and listen most of my discussions.

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  3. During conversations people are often distracted thinking about what to say next or what happened today at lunch, instead of providing their full attention to the person talking. People often tend to get too caught up talking about themselves instead of engaging the person they are talking to by asking questions. That makes lots of conversations predominantly one-sided. Conversations are much more effective and enjoyable when both people get a chance to have the spotlight and find out more about each other.

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  4. This article rally reiterates what we have been talking about in class. Taking more time in conversation you have to listen rather than pay attention too yourself can really bring about better and more meaningful conversations. This is something that many people do not realize.

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  5. Listening is a skill that many people in our generation lack. They don’t really realize there is a difference between listening and hearing. People are always thinking of ways to make the conversation about them or are thinking of the next important thing to say so that they can be hear over all others. Just as the listening project has shown me is that a conversation is not really a conversation if it has no meaning. Without meaning we are just saying irrelevant words so that we can hear our own voice. People, me included need to learn the proper way to communicate and it all starts with listening.

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  6. This provoked some more thoughts as an extension of the Listening Project, and I came to the conclusion that a “two-way” conversation that is truly GOOD requires a mindset change. Instead of feeling like it is polite to listen and let someone talk, actually being interesting and excited by the statements that someone else makes and the questions that they ask. This shifts the conversation from just looking good externally, to really being enriching and beneficial to everyone included.

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  7. Reading this article made me think more about listening project. I really agree with a lot in this article. I got to know a few of my friends a lot better than I ever would have. By actually listening to my friends they felt like I respected them more and they could talk to me on a more personal level. Without focusing on what I am going to say every second I was able to really listen and connect more with my friends. A lot of the things mentioned in this article helped me with my listening skills and helped me become better at conversing with people.

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  8. One might think after reading this article that it is easy or you already listen to others. I thought this way. It was not until I actually participated in the exercise of listening not hearing, did I realize that there is a difference. I can easily see the change in conversation and emotion that you get from the other person. They can see that you are engaged in the conversation and care (or at least pretend to care) for what they are saying.

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  9. This article was very thought provoking as I realized that I often try to avoid awkward silence, therefore talking a lot in conversations with others. The times that I have intentionally let other people speak proved to really enrich our conversations and allow me to know people better. I am challenged to not only talk less and listen more, but to also pay attention to the meaning behind what others are saying.

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  10. This article goes along with that we have been talking about in class and although I was skeptical about speaking less at first, now that I have done it I realized that I have been controlling the conversation to focus it on me way too often. This exercise has made me understand where my friends are coming from on different topics much more because now I listen closely to what they are saying instead of trying to talk.

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  11. Listening is arguably the most important thing someone does daily. It allows someone to take in new information about their peers and their surroundings. But, like the article states, that is if one is making a conscious effort to not only hear the information, but actually understand what the person is saying. The entire quality of your connections with your peers can change if you just relax a bit and listen to them so you can craft deeply intellectual and thoughtful responses.

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  12. I always thought of myself as a pretty unselfish person, turns out I was completely wrong. I always talked into the person I was talking to agreed and if they didn’t me always thought they were wrong. In order to any function relationship, both parties have to good listeners. Listening also improve the quality of the relationship, helps limit confusion thus making the conversation more enjoyable. Not only did listening help me understand the other person side of the conversation, it also caused me develop more thoughtful responses.

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  13. This article makes me think about whether I am really listening the the people I talk to or if I am just hearing them. I could be missing out on conversations that could have been great simply because I am just hearing the person I am talking to and not listening to what they are actually saying.

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  14. I feel like many people in this generation are very egocentric, and want to dominate the conversation at hand with their own stories. I’ve often found myself butting into another person’s conversation to insert my own opinion. If everyone talked like this, then nothing would ever get done and we would all be shouting over each other for a chance to be heard. If we just listened for a moment, I’m sure that we would get to know one another better and have more meaningful relationships.

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  15. Listening is a skill. Just because everyone can physically hear, doesn’t mean they have the skill to listen to someone. I have come to the conclusion that the less you say, the more people pay attention to you. Your words become more valuable because you take the time to only say what is important. Always notice that people who speak less usually accomplish more. It is known that very successful people are good listeners first.

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  16. One of the most important things I’ve been trying to target when it comes to listening is the need to be heard. There are times in conversation where instead of listening to what the other person is saying, my focus is solely dedicated to preparing the next thing I’m going to say. I hadn’t realized how much of a barrier this had become in my life until I realized there were times where I completely didn’t hear what someone said.

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  17. When people listen to me, and vice versa, I like to think that they’re getting the most out of the conversation. If not then why have one? Today we live in a society where “listening” can be talking to someone while on their phones. Yes technology will only get better from here, so whats yet to come?
    Some days its good to leave your phone at home so you don’t feel the need to constantly look at it all the time.

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  18. I do agree that a good conversation is hard to find. I feel like in today’s society, people just talk and nothing is ever meaningful. I think this trend is due to the use of technology. We are constantly sharing useless information all the time that we no longer have filter for what is important, interesting and enriching. So we we are having conversations, people just say whatever comes to mind without having any thing productive to add to the conversation. It is a shame that this is how it is today.

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  19. I find that a lot of conversation today is very saturated with a lot of filler and a lot of useless formality. If people would just focus on what they wanted to actually say instead of trying to make a conversation flow perhaps people wouldn’t have a problem with listening as the conversation would contain more meaning and more depth to it. Perhaps the problem with listening stems from a fundamental lack of meaningful conversation.

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  20. I noticed that if you listen more that you will retain more information about the person you were having a conversation with. If people were to listen more then more productivity would happen. There would be less miscommunication because more would be remembered instead of trying to think of what to say next. People would notice they absorb more when they listen more.

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  21. My only issue with the topic of listening and communicating is the belief by some that teenagers inherently lack the ability to communicate with each other. The notion that all of us are self-absorbed and constantly texting and using our phones does not and should not hold true to all of us. From a very young age, I was taught to be quiet, listen, and be mindful of what I say, and because of that, when I usually had nothing to say, I did not say anything. Communicating with each other does require a give and take situation but my point is that not all of the adolescents in my generation are self-absorbed snobs, which many adults seem to bypass in favor of simplistic generalizations.

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  22. Another article that I’m completely in agreement with. There’s really not much to say here, other than it is, once again, just a case of distilling some common sense regarding human communication. I feel like all of these articles could just be condensed down to: (1) Slow down for a second and take a moment to think, and (2) Be honest with yourself. I appreciate the material that’s being covered but it doesn’t feel as though this kind of high-level overview really digs into any questions someone might have or even (if someone actually thought this were necessary) parsing some kind of relevant research to back up claims. I don’t actually think that last one is particularly necessary, but I’m just trying to throw ideas around.

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  23. After reading this article and participating in the Listening Project outside of class, I have found myself to be much more attentive towards others and have tried to refrain from thinking about other things during conversation. I think it is important to first take into account what the other person is saying and then figure out what you will contribute in order to create valuable and meaningful conversations.

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  24. Listening is key for any solid relationship. Distractions of all sorts are usually the reason people struggle so much with the simple task of listening. I think people are so caught up in what they are going to say next, they are missing out on the actual moment. No one is rushing you for a quick response, I, for one would prefer a thought out reply than one that was rushed.

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  25. As a society, it seems we have lost appreciation for the art of conversation. We have sold this art to our phones rather than creating in-person, on the spot art. Communication fosters relationships, and many of us have lost the ability to hold meaningful conversations. We often times underestimate the value that lies in listening to the ideas and thoughts of others. Not only do we learn from each other this way, but we also show others our genuine interest in them. We can actually tell a lot about a person through the way in which they communicate with us and others. Those who know how to communicate well end up having higher quality relationships.

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  26. I thought a lot about the listening project while I was reading this article. I have realized how important listening is in a relationship, and in a conversation. I agree with this article in that you need to be aware of your contribution to the conversation, because that is the only way to understand more about the person and about yourself.

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  27. When I was doing my Listening project for Dr. Pappas’s class, I found that my friends talked to me more often because I was being quiet (not talking about my problems). Our conversations got deeper each time. I could tell my friends were less streesed after they talked to me. The society gives credits to good speakers, but it never gave credits to good listeners. If there are more good listeners in the world, then everyone will be less frustrated and feel happier.

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  28. After taking part in the Listening Project I realized how important listening is in maintaining healthy relationships. I became more invested in conversation by not being concerned about what to say next. This article emphasized just that. I feel like I got to know my best friends more in a matter of weeks just by listening more and talking less. I picked up on more tendencies my friends had and could remember more of our conversations since I was concentrating more on what they were saying.

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  29. After doing a listening experiment I became very interested with my listening patterns and learned that I often share more than listening to others. I decided to try to change this and become more aware of what others are saying, while being dedicated to their words. Because I started paying more attention to others, I began to realize others listening habits when I am talking. A lot more people than I expected look at their phones while I am talking and I call them out because I like to know they hear me.

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  30. Sometimes listening to someone is all we need to build a solid relationship. Listening is crucial when it comes to conversation. If we aren’t deeply listening to what someone has to say, how can we possibly carry on a thoughtful conversation? This reminded me of the listening project and how effective it was to take a step back and actually listen to their thoughts while asking thoughtful questions in return. It can lead to a strong conversation and it is possible to learn a lot about someone just by deep listening.

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  31. I found that listening is really a hard skill to be good at and I personally know I struggle with it all the time. I could also relate when the article talked about feeling good when your words are being listened. It makes me feel important and that who ever I am talking to actually likes me and wants to know what I am thinking. It is even better when the next time you see them they ask you about something we had previously talked about. When people I talk to treat me in the manner I feel more apt to treat them with the same respect and be an attentive listener for them as well.

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  32. When you truly listen to someone they have your full attention and you take in and think about what the other person is saying. It is not a matter of hearing someone else speak, but understanding, getting the deeper meaning, and engaging in conversation. It also not speaking the entire time, it is good to let the other speak more and to just listen to what they have to say. Not only will this allow the other person to truly speak about something that is important to them, it let’s them know you care.

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  33. As technology continues to excel, EVERYONE falls victim to not being heard, or maybe is responsible for being the ones who don’t listen. We think we can gain every bit of knowledge and experience by looking it up or watching a video on youtube about it, but listening is such an amazing tool that we are naturally born with and is what has made us such a successful society in the first place. We can learn so much from listening to people’s first hand experiences while having a real interaction with expression.

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  34. Listening is a two-way path, without both people listening attentively would this even be considered a valued conversation? I do have my fair share of bad listening skills. I don’t always listen unselfishly because I get caught up in my own thoughts or interrupt the speaker when he is talking. Half the time I listen closely and deeply but the other half I just listen to the surface level information. This article, along with the Listening Project has benefited me because it allowed me to take a step back and realize my role in a conversation. It made me realize that I don’t have to dominate every conversation and when I am not speaking I should listen with all ears.

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  35. Conversation is something that we have as humans that is so important and so valuable. Its away we can learn about others and make connections. But we often use it to talk about ourselves then to learn and listen to others. Many people think that they are listening but they are actually just thinking about how to respond to the person they are taking to and you aren’t really learning about that person. People need to slow down and listen more in their conversations.

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  36. Doing the listening project in class helped me to realize that a lot of what is said in this article is very true. I think it is a very big issue in our society today. Personally, I am trying to get away from just hearing people and trying to listen to people more and I am noticing that I am learning a lot more about my friends than I used to.

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  37. Some people will admit it and others will not but sometimes all we want is to be LISTENED to. The word “listen” has different meanings to different people and is broadly used. After doing the listening project in ISAT160, I feel as if I have began to understand the true meaning of the phrase “I’m listening”. Although most of us find ourselves saying we are listening, we aren’t, we are just lost in our own head thinking about what to say next or even just dozed off in our own world. Without truly listening and observing we will find ourselves at a stand still in relationships and unsure of what to do next because it is unable to progress. For me, listening more and talking less has made me notice things about my surroundings and friendships that I would not have noticed before.

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  38. This article really helps to show the benefits of being able to be a good conversationalist and more important, a good listener. Having the skill to sit back and really understand what people are trying to say and what they truly mean, will benefit you and your relationships. Listening draws people closer together because you learn a lot more about your close ones than if you are constantly chiming in with your own ideas.

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  39. I completely agree with this article because I have noticed that I sometimes am not fully listening to others when they talk and I “zone” out a lot. I have been trying to fix this through the listening project and pay more attention to what my friends and family talk about. It has been helping me get a deeper understanding of the type of people they are, and I have felt more connections with them through this process.

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  40. I agree with this article in that my listening skills and the listening skills of others are not that great. However, by participating in the listening project for class, I feel that I have become a better listener. I have also become more aware of when my friends are being good listeners when I am talking to them. It makes me feel unappreciated at times because many of them are very consumed and focused on talking about themselves instead of truly listening to what I have to say.

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  41. Many people undermine the importance of listening in a conversation with their peers. I have learned that I have definitely taken up a lot of the conversations that I have with my friends and family and that when I listen more I get way more feedback. People tend to rely on you more when you listen and I have noticed that people also open up because they know that you will truly hear them out.

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  42. Listening is essential to building a relationship with someone and communication. I don’t know how a relationship with anyone can work without good communication. To me I always am happy to listen to someone else, but I’ve always been one to try and interject and come up with my next thoughts in my head instead of truly listening to another person. I have learned it is better to just be a listener sometimes instead of always feeling the need to respond right away.

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  43. I think stepping back and listening can be essential to truly what is important to the people around us. Allowing time to listen and create moments of silence puts a pressure or an ease for the introduction of a topic by a conversation partner. In moments of silence a friend is given the opportunity to vocalize a concern, share an experience, or share a passion, all of which can open the door to question and deeper understanding of that person. In order to create meaningful and valued relationship or find one we need to understand a persons values and beliefs. I think that the most meaningful relationships come out of shared or understood values. Getting to know someone deeper may require giving them the opportunity to bring forward what is important in moments of silence, then drawing upon those values to feed conversation.

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  44. This article particularly resonates with me regarding the listening project that we’ve been doing lately. It is truly satisfying to inquire about someone else’s life and how they are feeling. Perhaps this is because I don’t always take the time to do so. For example, I remember a particular moment over break in which my mom was sharing important information with me that was making her feel extremely stressed, and I was only partially listening. I zoned back into what she was saying and I felt confused because I wasn’t listening the whole time. I feel guilty about this. Especially now that I am back at school where I don’t see my mom every day, I would give anything to have that conversation back right now and truly be there to effectively support and comfort her.

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  45. This article really make you re-evaluate your friendships/relationships, and think about whether you really listen or get distracted in your own head or by technology. Listening to someone rather than just hearing what they are saying is vital in creating a deeper connection with them. It shows them that you truly care and want to be there for them when they need someone. It allows them to open up more, and be comfortable coming (back) to you.

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  46. It’s hard to listen nowadays to people. We live in a world where society wants us to be fast paced and to keep moving. When we listen to a conversation I think we have trained ourselves to either listen to just the basics, which helps us to skip important parts or details of a story that could be necessary, or we try to multitask by listening to a story but also think about other things, which can basically put our thought away from the conversation and we will have ‘heard” nothing at all and learned nothing at all.

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  47. A very interesting phenomenon occurs when you put the effort in to really listen to what another is saying. For me, at least, I start noticing times when I am not listening as intently as I could be. It feels very awful to realize that you haven’t been keeping up with the conversation, and you don’t know what they really just said. The level of attention required to actually listen to another person is not something you can just acquire passively; like most aspects of being human, it must be developed.

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  48. Listening is probably the most important aspect of a conversation, but it’s the part that gets overlooked the most. Many times I’ve had conversations with people and I got the feeling that they were not taking in what I was saying. After class lectures and reading this article the importance of listening has been reaffirmed in my interactions with others and I can sense a change in my conversation after the fact.

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  49. The listening project allowed me to realize how little I actually listened and understood my friends and family when they were talking to me. I had a very bad habit of turning conversation topics to myself and my experiences, rather than allowing my conversation partner to just speak their mind. I now realize how much better a conversation is when I’m not the only one sharing. It’s nice to hear someone else’s point of view and opinions because it forces me to keep an open mind while having a conversation, and I’m better able to respond when I’ve heard all that an individual has to say.

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  50. Listening in today’s society is not the same as it used to be. Listening now a days is more of hearing than listening. Listening entails actually thinking about what the other person is saying to you and responding to it. What we do today is more along the lines of waiting for our turn to interject in the conversation and not really taking what your peer is saying into consideration.

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  51. I always thought I was a good listener, but it turns out i was merely just hearing people. The past few weeks I’ve come to realize that sometimes when people are talking, i catch myself holding my own conversation in my head, or I’m preparing what to say next. Since i’ve noticed this, i’ve made the conscious decision to speak less, listen more, and ask more compelling questions. So far it has had a great impact on my life, my relationships have improved, as well as my conversational skills and sense of self.

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  52. Listening is something that superficially seems so natural, but is really one of the more complex aspects of conversation. We tend to want to steer the conversation in our direction at any point we can; we love to talk about ourselves. The article makes a good point regarding finding good conversation: it is really difficult. We don’t even realize that our conversations aren’t truly worthwhile until we come across a conversation that really makes us think and feel satisfied in the end.

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