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Two ears and one mouth

by Randall Craig on March 14, 2006

Filed in: Blog, Learning, Make It Happen Tipsheet,

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Did you ever wonder how children can so quickly learn new things? And ever hear the expression “Children should be seen, and not heard”? Maybe there is a connection between these two concepts that can help us be better managers.

Consider: it is 100% impossible to learn from others if you are the only one who is talking. This is true during a project update from your staff, while having a personnel discussion with your manager, or even at home, when you are making a decision with your significant other.

Unfortunately, some people prefer to hear themselves speak – and therefore unwittingly cut themselves off from the information they need to make decisions – and the relationships they need to manage effectively. What differentiates a great manager – or a great anything – from the average one, is the quality of their listening skills.

During the next week, test yourself. In each conversation you have, what percentage of the time are you talking, instead of listening? Then, try setting a goal to “improve” this ratio. And remember, you have two ears and one mouth for a reason.

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Randall Craig

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Randall has been advising on Web and Social Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of seven books, including the recently released "Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business", and speaks across North America on Social Media and Web Strategy. More at and

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