Real listening is the pursuit of the speaker’s meaning.

Communication is, at its heart, the transfer of meaning. Most groups seem to accept what a person says first as his or her meaning. In highly functioning groups, individuals will take the time and care to pursue what a speaker meant, not necessarily what was first said. Good listeners will paraphrase and confirm meaning; they will look to the speaker to see if they got the whole message. Active listening is a pursuit of the speaker’s experience and meaning, not merely a waiting for the speaker to fully reveal. Leaders may make this a responsibility, not just hit-and-miss behavior in their organizations. Real listening is close to magic.