As I've spent more time thinking, praying, and listening to the Holy Spirit, I've deepened my understanding of my own need to make room to listen. This is true in many ways, but my focus is on one very specific way: to listen to the still, small voice of the Spirit, we must put aside distracting emotions. This does not mean that we must be mechanical or that our interactions with the Spirit are purely logical; on the contrary, trying to limit spiritual interactions to logic is an attempt to wrest control of the conversation from God. What it does mean is that if we are listening to fear or anger or passion or even the elation of daydreaming, we introduce (in the words of the late Elder Scott) a jalapeño pepper that overpowers the flavor of the Spirit's grape.
When beginning a session of study and prayer, I find it useful to take a moment to breathe and identify and release my fears. This is an ability that I am still developing. Perhaps the most useful thing I have discovered is that if I approach the Lord with questions intended to help me avoid mistakes (in other words, if they are a manifestation of my fears), I rarely get strong answers. However, if my questions are about seeking after righteousness, I'm much more likely to learn from the Spirit. (For more on this distinction, see this previous post.)