Most of us don't listen to understand, we listen to reply.
If we are having a conversation, we are constantly thinking of how to make sure, we are understood. We want our arguments to be heard and do not focus on the arguments the other one might have.
A conversation like that, might end up in a discussion and turn around the same arguments, without any side realizing that they have the same, or almost the same opinion.
So how can we actively listen?
First of all, there is a reason we have 2 ears and 1 mouth. We should listen double the amount that we speak.
When we try to understand, we have to keep on asking questions. Open, simple and natural questions, to invite the other side to explain her/his thoughts.
Our body language should be inviting. The other side should see, that we are open for her/his arguments. We also should express it verbally with sounds and words of understanding ( “ah, oh, I understand…”)
At the end we should summarize, what we just understood, to make it clear we are on the same track.
Even though it might seem awkward at first…
…try it! You will see, it works!