A disciple asked his Master: “What should a decent and respectful human being do to understand the real-world situation? What makes a human being out of touch with reality?”

After a few moments of quiet stillness, the Master answered, “Always listen wholeheartedly to both sides and you will be enlightened; listen to only one side and you will be left in the dark.”

(Moral of the story: Real listening can’t happen unless we have a genuine desire to understand what we’re hearing. To be a good listener, give not only your ears, but also your eyes, your undivided attention, and your heart. The Chinese characters that make up the verb, “to listen” tell us something significant about this skill. It captures the true nature of really listening: Use your ear to hear, treat the speaker like a king, with the focus of 10 eyes, and the feeling of one united heart.)