Here's one of my favorite listening activities. Try this at a company outing or some large gathering. When you get into a conversation with someone, keep the conversation away from your agenda. Ask a few open-ended questions that begin with why, what, or how to get the other person talking, for example, "How did you get interested in fly-fishing?" or "What do you think is a wise investment?" Your aim is not to see how many questions you can ask, but to let others do more of the talking and you, more of the listening. At the end of the day, notice how much you learned and how many new acquaintances you made simply by giving others the spotlight.

Rebecca Z. Shafir in The Zen of Listening