Keeping natural resources like lakes pure — and even in existence — requires leaving them alone to allow them time to replenish. You cannot dump trash incessantly or constantly siphon off water for irrigation without destroying the lake. One destroys the lake from within, and the other from without. A lake has boundaries that cannot be violated without damage. There is a boundary for listening as well, and it is called time. If you fill all your time with junk activity, or allow all of it to be siphoned off — even for the sake of good activity — you will ruin it. Listening requires space for thoughtfulness. Thoughtfulness is NOT the same as thoughts. Thoughtfulness is a state of being, thoughts are only a byproduct. Spending time in thoughtfulness is rowing a boat and dropping nets as collecting thoughts is to gathering fish from a lake. Thoughtfulness is evaporating like the Aral Sea. Great listeners engage thoughtfulness and are therefore able to catch fish that might elude the speaker.
What is most important to you? That is where you put your time. There are things which can be done in a small amount of time. Put a load of laundry in the drier. Answer a text message. If listening is important to you, then you also need time for thoughtfulness. Not something done quickly to fit into your day with all the other tasks (because it won’t happen. Something else will invade it). Don’t pollute it, don’t siphon it all into canals, or there won’t be any water left. Give thoughtfulness the time it deserves if you value it. This time and the resulting thoughtfulness is a key resource for listening well.