How to have better, deeper conversations

You’re sitting down for dinner with an old friend to catch up. You’re in the middle of sharing an anecdote when their phone dings. Their eyes shift to the screen, and they slide their device into their lap to send a reply.
Most of us have been on both sides of this scenario, and while it may seem harmless, these kinds of distractions during our everyday interactions can make people feel unheard or unimportant, fragment our attention, and hurt our relationships. On the other hand, research shows that active listening — putting your full focus on your conversational partner to truly understand their message — can help us anticipate problems, resolve conflicts, expand our knowledge and build trust.
Like any skill, active listening can be practiced and cultivated. Here are three key ways to become a better listener.