It's interesting that most communication classes focus on speaking and presentation. However, speaking is only half of the communication equation, the other half is listening. If you have ever had a conversation with someone who was distracted or who was determined to hear what they wanted to hear and not what you said, you know that listening is just as important as speaking.
Listen to the Words. What is the other person saying? Listen to the whole thing. A lot of time we hear the first part of a person's statement and then we start mentally crafting our responses while the other person is still talking and guess what? We miss the rest of what they are saying.
Acknowledge the Speaker. This is especially important if someone is sharing something important or heartfelt with you. Paraphrase what they are saying back to them so they know that you are listening. Give listening fillers "Uh-huh," "Okay," "I see." If you are face-to-face, maintain eye contact or occasionally nod.
Listen Beyond the Word. If face-to-face, review the body language. Look at the facial expressions. Listen for inflection, tone and the emotion beyond the words. Something as simple as "Fine," can be completely different based on tone, inflection and body language.
Focus. In our multi-tasking world, it's easy to want to talk, text, return emails all at once. Respect the speaker by giving them your attention. If you must take a call or respond to a text, apologize for the interruption, do it quickly and re-focus on the person and the conversation.
Don't Assume: You know what happens when you assume. Ask if you have concerns or if you need clarification. I have a friend who literally has her own definitions for a lot of words. Her definitions many times have nothing to do with the actual definition. We used to argue all the time because I didn't understand how she was defining a word. Now I ask her for her definition before assuming that we're both using the Webster's definition.
Good communication has to include good listening. And remember, good listeners aren't always born that way, many of us have to learn how to listen well!