Ernest Hemingway is quoted as saying “I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.” It’s probably true that while we are “listening” to someone, we are busy in our minds creating the next question, or thinking about something else entirely. Many years ago I had a boss who was regularly phoned by someone who would talk without pause for breath. He would put the phone in the drawer, carry on with what he was doing, and every little while open the drawer and make a non committal “uhuh” noise. Eventually he would take the phone out of the drawer and bring the call to a close - the caller seemed none the wiser. I wouldn’t say he was an inspirational boss - he wasn’t the one who started me on my journey as a coach!
John Whitmore suggests that we are told to listen at school - not trained or coached to - and that it is a skill that requires concentration and practice. He says “When we really listen to someone, or when someone really listens to us, how appreciated it is.”
The following link plays a video from Julian Treasure about listening. He divides it into “reductive listening” - listening for a purpose, and “expansive listening” which he describes as listening with no destination in mind. He proposes 8 modalities for sound to aid health: and has some fascinating statistics about sound, not least that musicians have, apparently, got bigger brains.
Consciously listening to those around us involves effort but just now will probably prove to be one of the most valuable skills at our disposal as the NHS works through all of the proposed change. Listen for tone of voice, negative or positive terms and levels of animation - all clues that enhance the effectiveness of your listening.