Listening - being listened to - is a big part of psychotherapy. Some consider it to be far and away the most important part.

I don’t know that I’d go quite so far, but it’s easy to forget just how rare listening really is. Here’s an experiment for you to try. The next time your friend or partner is talking with you about a problem, devote yourself entirely to listening.

You can make the usual noises that indicate understanding. You can ask a few simple, clarifying questions. Otherwise, purge yourself of the wish to speak. Become an ear. Remain in this role for 50 minutes.

In everyday life, as we all know, what passes for listening is often really waiting to speak. Therapists do open their mouths from time to time, of course. Words come out. But the enormous restraint we exercise, or should exercise, is what frees us to hear and to think.