I've worked with a couple of people who I thought always really failed to listen what other people were saying.
"I hear what you're saying but."
"I understand your point of few but."
In each case these people were so focussed on having the right answer to the questions asked or the issues that has arisen, that they couldn't see anyone elses point of view. They didn't either hear what was being said, nor did they understand those other points of view.
Richard Carlson says that if we slow down our desire to respond and open ourselves up to the ideas of others by really listening to what they say that we will reduce stress in our lives.
Maybe it's a hangover from what we learn as children which is often that "the squeaky wheel gets the grease", or that he who laughs last laughs loudest, that sees communication become a competition. We compete in relationships, at school, at work, and that communication competition often leads to a blockage in being able to take on board ideas that don't conform with our own belief system. It is easier to ignore other opinions than admit that we may be wrong. And let's be honest, most of us don't like to admit to being wrong.
In learning to listen rather than just hear, we can also learn to modify our opinions to take into account the best ideas that otherspresent to us. It is not an easy thing to do, but if you can manage it, the respect you gain from others because you value what they say, will far outweigh any negative feelings you may have because you may have to admit you were wrong.