If you are exhausted at the end of a day full of Zoom calls, give yourself a pat on the back. That means you have been listening. And listening, truly listening, is hard work.

I remember learning this lesson early in my career defending witnesses at depositions: my witness was being questioned and I would sit next to them and defend them, by objecting to inappropriate questions. My job was to listen. Opposing counsel had an agenda and asked questions accordingly. I had to listen actively and figure out what opposing counsel was looking for. I found those days more exhausting than the days when I was doing the questioning. And I marveled at how listening was harder work than speaking.

I had to listen. To every phrase, every question. I paid attention to meaning, nuance and consequences of the answer. I had to understand what opposing counsel wanted. My shoulders and neck were stiff at the end of the day, from listening.

Listening is hard work. Important work. It is a necessary part of communication and understanding. Like many other life skills, it takes energy, commitment and practice to do it well.