The earliest advice I ever remember was from my Nana who would remind me, as I kept telling her my endless stream of thoughts: “you have two ears and one mouth. Listen twice as much as you speak.” It was her reminder to me that listening gets you a lot farther than talking. I don’t know that I believed her until I finally shut up at my first day of school.
See, I was an army brat as a child and we moved almost every year, sometimes more frequently, between the time I started kindergarten and the year I graduated high school. In each scenario, I had to make new friends and step into well-established social circles to build those relationships. I learned adaptability quickly and the best way to adapt? Listen. You have to be fully aware of your surroundings before you can adapt in any way, especially when you have to do it 13 times before you turn 18.
Now, listening doesn’t always get you everywhere. I’ve made bad choices from listening. Luckily, nothing that resulted in an arrest, but bad choices no less. I’ve also made really great choices based on great advice, like finally taking the steps to lose 60+ pounds.
I think what I’ve finally figured out by speaking, not tweeting, with new people more often and listening more is just how important that is. That checking boxes on a list won’t teach you nearly as much as picking up the phone and talking to someone – in recruiting or life. That making a connection is better than just “getting shit done.”
That it actually is better to have two ears and one mouth, if you use them in ratio.
Katrina Kibben is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Three Ears Media. For most of Katrina’s career, she has been a marketer living in a recruiter’s world – listening to both sides of the talent equation to understand the real issues and find solutions for engaging and hiring better people. Today, she uses her technical marketing know-how and way with words to help both established and emerging brands develop and deliver content that fuels smart recruitment marketing that makes the right people apply.
Katrina has written for Monster.com, HR.com, RecruitingDaily and many other digital publications. She is a recognized leader in recruiting and employer branding who speaks regularly at conferences around the world.