In push hands we strive to be relaxed and aware enough to listen to the partner's incoming force & intentions. And in the context of daily interactions - really listening (which involves not interrupting and mindfully observing the non-verbals, and vocal tonalities) is something many of us can improve on. I know that my attention span and patience can be very short & as soon as my reply has appeared in my mind (or my button has been pushed) I have already stopped listening - but instead am ready to time my "push/reply". Generally speaking, women are much better than men at this but is a skill that is developed in the push hands exercise.
The solo practice of the form is the equivalent of us formulating our opinions through reading, talking and thinking and we can be quite assured of our views on issues, or how to do things. These can be solidified and reinforced or developed through years of "training" but when we come up against someone of different ideas, motives, their "energy/narrative" can often be quite blunt, forceful, invading or confronting - just like in push hands. Some we can deal with, some we cannot. So the practice of push hands helps us maintain our centre and equilibrium in the face of different types of opposing energies through listening and interpretation yielding, neutralizing and finally issuing.
In the above video of my free push hands experience with a skilled partner (who is being quite aggressive, leaning forward, invading and trying to dominate my centre space, probing for a way to exploit my diminishing space and push me over) I do a reasonable job of maintaining a relaxed, centred, rooted way that is listening and yielding to his ever changing force and points of leverage, in a way that does not put me in a position of "weakness". I also do a reasonable job of not resorting to force to meet his force. This gives me some satisfaction and in real life (when I get it right) I'm more likely to win friends and influence people , as Dale Carnegie would say.
Authour - Lee Chang Tye