Lifecom provides some excellent suggestions for developing listening skills. One of the suggestions was to sit silently for a period of 4 hours.
"Sit and watch the world around you. As you walk from one side of the campus to the other, look around and make observations. When you are sitting at supper with your family or friends, listen - really listen - to what they are saying and how they are saying it. Even if you can't be completely silent, intentionally limit your words and choose carefully what to say".
My first thought was that sitting silently for so long would make my head burst. Nevertheless, I decided to give it a try. I am glad to report that my head is still intact. It may be due to the fact I was not silent in the real sense. What I did was to avoid answering until I understood the true import of their question.
The first thing I noticed was that if you do not answer them immediately, either people answered the question themselves or they continue talking by giving explanations. More often than not, after their explanations, people left happy without me having said a word in reply.
Another thing I noticed was that whenever I was questioned, I was replying to them in my mind, sort of conversing with them. First, I was startled, and then I really enjoyed these conversations because I started realizing that when I answered, it was for what they meant and I was not just replying to their questions at face value.