"There are many reasons we find movies entertaining. We get a chance to escape our mundane, predictable lives and get into someone else's shoes. Good movies have a way of drawing us into the characters' consciousness, values, and lifestyle. We, the audience, empathize with the characters, often to the point of feeling their fear or sadness. We leave the theater with the thought that our connection with the characters, at least in a small way, has changed our lives. Our mood and our scope of understanding have been altered by forgetting ourselves for a while to view another's perspective. In real life, speakers often invite us to get into their movies with comments like, 'Do you see it my way?' or 'Put yourself in my place.' If we approach a listening opportunity with the same self-abandonment as we do at the movies, think of how much more we stand to gain from these encounters."

To Practice: Notice how well you need to listen to the characters in a movie to understand their actions and reactions. Then bring the same kind of focus to your next conversation with a friend.

Rebecca Z. Shafir in The Zen of Listening: Mindful Communication in the Age of Distraction