I was reminded the other day of an experience in the Netherlands visiting the former home of Rembrandt. I was mesmerized by his sketches; minimal fluid lines that caught the essence of the object he was drawing. Such skill is awe inspiring. It reminded me of the clearly supported claim by several art professors that skill, the control of ones medium, must come before great art is possible. Because it is only via the skill and control of ones art that one can move their brushes in unexpected ways and create something extra ordinary.
The same is true of quality listening. The listener must first develop a high level of skill with things like understanding the impact of ones expectations on the initial assignment of meaning, understanding the impact of ones own experience and values on the initial assignment of meaning, understanding how to focus ones attention so as to gather as clear a set of signals to interpret that one can be free to look for alternative or deeper meanings in the speaker’s signals and will strongly tend to do so. Thus opening up the possibility that a deeper understanding of the intended meaning becomes possible; the possibility that an intriguing perhaps slightly twisting surprise in meaning might become available to the listener’s understanding.