From the archives of iA, Putting Thought Into Things:
Listening is a masochist endeavor. To do it right you have to put everything down. Not just your phone, even pen and paper. There is nothing to hold on to when you just listen. You have to use your full attention, registering everything that you see and hear. You have to slow down your self-perception and focus on the outside, on what you do not understand. Compared to how we usually operate, listening means focusing on pain, diving into boredom. In order to see the other in slow motion, you need to stop the camera of self-perception that makes you the star, and speed up the camera that records the outside.
Listening requires the patience to recognize your feelings in other people’s words, no matter how trivial, dark and empty their language may seem. It requires you to become someone else while you listen. The fog of boredom and emptiness when listening to people you don’t sympathize with can be a sign that they are boring, empty, or not making sense. It can also be a sign that you do not understand. Listening requires that you accept the nuisance of not understanding, of feeling deaf, blind, numb, and still pay attention. Listening is the first step of deep thought. It is painful to give yourself up, but it is highly rewarding. To fill the glass with fresh water, first empty it.