I agree with you! Here are my notes on a TED talk that has really helped me do exactly what you are talking about:
Ten ways to have a better conversation by Celeste Headlee
Be 100% present in the conversation
Pay attention and be engaged
Don’t overstate my opinion over the other person’s
Be open to learning about the other person
Assume that I have something to learn
Use open ended questions:
Ask them simple questions and let them describe their experience:
-What was that like?
-How did that feel?
Go with the flow of the conversation:
-Don’t stop listening because I thought of something clever to ask or say and are just waiting for an opportunity to say my thing
-Don’t derail the conversation by going back to make my point. When thoughts arise and the golden opportunity passes, let it go.
If I don’t know, say “I don’t know”
Err on the side of caution
Don’t equate my experience with theirs (i.e. Death of a loved one, troubles at home, difficulties at work).
-Don’t trump their pain or success with mine
-I don’t have to prove how amazing I am or how much I’ve suffered
Don’t repeat myself:
-Don’t keep rephrasing the same thing over and over
-It’s boring, condescending and shows insecurity
Stay out of the weeds:
-Too many details make people lose interest
-People don’t care about the specific years, names, dates or places of the story
-They care about me, what we share, how we relate
Listening is the single most important thing
Prefer to listen rather than talk
If I talk too much:
-I grab the center of attention
-I become controlling
I don’t have to hear anything I’m not interested in
-I can bolster my own identity
Listen with the intent to understand, not with the intent to reply
-Better to say less rather than keep digging a big hole.