Listening is the skill needed for understanding and solve problems; it is also paternity or maternity, when the goal is the grow and the realization of the person that you are listening at.
Listening needs no judgment, no assumptions, and no blame.
The listener needs to create a vacuum inside him/her self for let the other person expand (is the way to the deep understanding of the other person).
It is an aspect of love.
The effective listener is a people lover able to go behind the words he is listening to for capturing the real need, motivation or situation behind the words. In the same way that a mother is able to understand a small child, yet unable to express him-self in a proper manner, because loves him and her attention is focus in him.
Very few people know how to listen. The big majority is unable to go behind the appearances of what they are listening. The reasons are because listening is time consuming, need real concentration and attention and loosing totally your personal ego and experiences for trying to capture the real message of the speaking person.
Silence is an important tool for a good listener, which needs to speak only for help the other person come out and express his deep feelings, situations and needs. Respect and consideration are the others. Never laugh at or critize other people needs, feelings or experiences, because it will be seen like a betrayal of the confidence pose in you the listener. Focus only in understanding. Try to discover and understand why an individual has made certain choices in his life, even if they seam odds to you. There is always a conscious or unconscious reason why those choices were made and detecting them is the key that can lead you to a deep understanding and to solutions that will be accepted, if that is the purpose. Trash your motivations and detect the other person ones. Be a blank piece of paper were the other person could write his or her story.
The good listener is a generous person, conscious that life is much more important than time. In this fast paced society how many persons you think are aware of that? And how many are able to maintain this awareness constant in their life? Not many.
At this point I think you, the reader, can judge and score yourself about your capacity of listening.
God is the ultimate listener, after the holy person, and after all the rest in different degree.In my opinion only God scores 100%, the holy person scores from 80 to 90 %, a paternal/maternal person that loves people between 60 and 80 %, etc. I think the average person score is from 10 to 20 %. Be honest in scoring yourself and you will be a step ahead in becoming a good listener. To know how to listen is a necessary skill and tool in everybody life. Needed at all levels, in private or public life, and at work. For making an example: why so many marriages end in failures? Most of the husbands and wives speak to each other, but they do not listen to each other, that is why!
Be aware if, after reading this, you start accusing somebody not to listen to you, you missed the point. You cannot impose generosity or love to others, you can to yourself.