Why is it so hard to listen?
Just listening is hard, especially if someone comes to you with a problem. The only way to solve that problem and not create a new one is to listen. Most people know this, this isn't new information.
Then why is listening so hard?
I'd like for you to think for a second about the word quick.
Now, I'd like for you think for a second about the word slow.
What came up?
A lot of us associate quick with good, smart, bright, competent - all positives. Slow, on the other hand, is associated with boring, dull, uninspired, sluggish - mostly negatives. Fast is good, slow is bad.
What takes time? Listening. Listening is slow, therefore, listening is bad.
My theory is that it is out of fear, not malice, that so many people don't listen. We've been conditioned to believe that fast is good. Rushing to a solution or action is self-centered and doesn't address the core issue of the person communicating with you: they want to feel heard. Don't worry, they're not going to think you're a bad person if you don't immediately offer up a solution. Just listen, if you have a curious feeling, ask a question. Try to get as much information as possible. Try not to solve the "problem". See what happens.
So the next time someone comes to you with a problem take the time, slow down and listen.
Ask questions, then listen some more. Don't try to solve it, try to understand it. People will appreciate it.
Often times all we need is to feel understood. Changing your approach is going to feel weird at first, but rest assured, after a while it's going to feel nrml.