I've always thought that listening to others was one of my strong points as a person. However, just because I listen doesn't mean that I'm really seeking to understand who I'm listening to. I tend to get frustrated when I'm trying to talk to friends, and they are doing something else and not listening. However, if I'm listening, but not truly seeking to understand their points of view, is it really any different?
I think when a friend talks to me about a problem, I automatically try to fix it based on my experiences, even if I haven't been through the same thing. I've learned through reading the 7 Habits that we should first seek to understand others' points of view instead of weighing their problems against our point of view. There are many factors that go into another person's problem and his or her reaction to it, and it ultimately has nothing to do with my point of view. Who am I to judge how someone else is dealing with a problem? Why do I think that my way of fixing it has to be right?
My goal is to start listening intently, without a preconceived notion of what someone is going to say and let them finish before I begin trying to fix his or her problem in my head. Sometimes people aren't looking for advice. They're just looking for understanding.