One of the most important things us drummers do is listen. In order for us to contribute meaningfully to the music we're playing, we have to learn to listen first and play second. This is so we can better understand the style and feel of the music first, before deciding how we would like to contribute with our playing. Our drumming should weave itself into the music in a complimentary way. We always want to serve the song to the best of our ability. It is also important to know that while we listen first and play second, the listening shouldn't stop once we start playing. We must continue to listen actively while we play, not just before we play. This is because most songs are not stagnant, most songs fluctuate, evolve and devolve as they go along. We must keep our ears open so we're ready for the ebb and flow.
A good way to hone one's listening skills is to listen to some songs and try and pick out what the drummer is playing, and reflect on how the drumming fits in nicely. Another great approach to honing one's listening skills is to listen to music that doesn't contain any drums, and try and pick out all the different instruments and their parts. What music doesn't have any drums, but does have plenty of instruments playing different parts? Classical music. Think Mozart, Beethoven, Bach. Listening for all the different instruments and their parts, whether pounding in the forefront or whispering in the background, trains the ear to better pick apart and process music as a whole.
Once we learn to listen first and play second, we can begin to contribute to music in a more meaningful way.