It is fun and challenging to truly listen. When you allow the sound you hear to connect with the brain, some interesting synapses are formed. Whether you are listening to a recording, live performance or a conversation, using the energy to truly listen creates an experience that is unique and enervating.
I can tell you the skills you need. You must practise each and every time you listen until it becomes natural to you. Then and only then, will you experience the true joy listening can bring.
1. Concentrate - Many times when we speak to someone, instead of really focusing on what is being said, we are busy formulating an answer or refuting the points in our head. Yup. That was what you were doing wasn't it?
In order to concentrate you must:
a) Have eye contact - you MUST look at the speaker, preferably in the eye.
b) Shut your brain off - STOP THINKING. Your job is to take in what sounds the person or group is making. Do not decide you would conduct that differently or decide that her point is poorly presented.
c) Shut out the background - Concentration means being able to block out the extraneous background sounds.
2. Review - When someone has spoken to you, it is best if you acknowledge that you heard them, by reviewing what you believe you heard. This does two things. It validates the speaker and allows you to take time to fully understand the topic.
a) Acknowledge - That is a very interesting or complete or creative idea. Or thanks for sharing that point of view.
b) Rewind - Did I hear you say that, " -------"? or Am I correct in understanding that you feel ---?
3. Evaluate - Now, you can have an opinion. You have taken in what has been said. You have acknowledged and reviewed it. Now, you can give you two cents worth if it is appropriate.
Here is a great method to review & respond. Use FEEL, FELT, FOUND. This is a simple but effective way to help you put things in perspective. Let's say the person has said that the sopranos are not singing in tune and that you should change the way you rehearse in order to help them to be as good as the basses. You have eye contact while this is being said.
1) Respond with, "I understand how you feel. It can be difficult to sing well if you feel that another group isn't doing as well as they could."
2) "I have felt that same kind of frustration in the past myself."
3) "I have found that the problem works itself out as they tune into the other parts. However, if it doesn't, we will do some more work on tuning during our warm ups. Thanks for your input."
Notice that in the above, I have never defended my position. I simply accepted the ideas presented and acknowledged them. I also offered remediation. If you start giving reasons for what you do, you can end up with an argument. It is best to let people own their ideas and don't try to sway people to your way of thinking. Remember Mr. Miyagi when he said, "Best defense. Not be there." Your opinion is just that, an opinion. Present it and move on. Don't expect the world to accept it as truth no matter how amazing you are.