Going through my notes from Seminary I came across a piece of wisdom. I thought I'd repeat it for your edification.
You are not listening to me when:
You say you understand before you know me well enough.
You have answer to my problem before I've finished telling you what the problem is.
You cut me off before I have finished speaking.
You are critical of my vocabulary, grammar, or accent.
You are anxious to tell me something.
You tell me about your experience, making mine seem unimportant.
You are communicating to someone else in the room.
You refuse my thanks, saying you haven't really done anything.
You are listening to me when:
You come quietly into my private world and let me be me.
You really try to understand me even if I'm not making much sense.
You allow me the dignity of making my own decisions even though you think they might be wrong.
You do not take my problem from me, but allow me to deal with it in my own way.
You hold back your desire to give me good advice.
You do not offer religious solace when you sense I am not ready for it.
You give me enough room to discover for myself what is really going on.
You accept my gift of gratitude when I express appreciation for your time and effort.
You allow me the freedom to feel what I am feeling.
You repeat back to me what I have told you.
You do not try to force me into the right answer through logic or religion.
You allow silence at the necessary times.