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.
Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.
Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster, Care.com, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.
Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.