We all do it: when we're in the middle of a conversation with someone, we spend the bulk of that time thinking about what we're going to say as a reply. Fast Company points out that this really screws with your listening ability.
Photo by Markus Goller
When you're listening, you tend to put yourself in a thinking mindset. When you shift your focus to your contribution to the conversation, you enter a doing mindset, which is when you start ignoring the actual conversation. Fast Company breaks it down like so:
Shifting yourself out of a doing mode can be difficult. Often, colleagues come to you with a problem, and so your initial reaction is to prepare yourself to solve the problem. However, the problem that people come to talk to you about is not always the real problem that needs to be solved. If you jump too quickly into a mode of trying to solve the problem you are facing, you may cure a symptom rather than curing the disease. Taking the thinking perspective is the conversational equivalent of the carpenter's saying "Measure twice, cut once."
When you focus on your next contribution, you may miss the emotion behind what is being said. You communicate a lot more than just the statements we make with the words we use. Your tone of voice, posture, and gestures also say a lot about how you feel. After all, the simple sentence "That was a great point," can be a compliment or an insult just based on how it is said.
It's a difficult tendency to break, but if you keep it in mind during conversation you'll hopefully start to get rid of the habit.
How One Simple Change Can Make You a Better Listener [Fast Company]