It’s not just about ‘lending an ear’

Illustration by Vijay Verma

Listening deeply is a topic I am passionate about, not because I am good at it (far from it!) but because it is so deeply needed – not just in research but in our everyday conversations with people. If only more people knew the power of listening and being heard deeply.

Because of this, I have frequently written and spoken about listening, from how listening deeply can transform you into a better designer and leader, to how listening deeply helps hiring managers sift good candidates, and even in coaching your mentees.

As I practice listening deeply in my client research…


Understand your mentees deeper and go beyond ‘what went well’ and ‘what went wrong’.

Are we truly listening with empathy in our coaching? (Image by Elina on Blush)

When I first learnt about Indi Young’s Advanced Training Courses in Problem Space Research, I was intrigued by the course “Listening Deeply”. Surely, I do listen and don’t need help with that. In the past, some people have told me that I am a good listener, and friends come to me for advice when they are struggling with something. Even if I did need help with learning to listen, I was imagining a cringeworthy, team-building kind of activity where we’ll be made to feel good that we listened to each other just by being quiet and trying to see another…


A leader’s journey is nothing without those whom they are leading.

Our first team trip to Rumah Kebun in 2017, a place we absolutely adored and had lovely memories of. L-R from top: Mirul, Ramzi, Cheryl, Faa, Nad, Julia, Fel, Suga, Nash, Ims, Erin, Shari, Hanis, Sam, me and Lina. ❤

This post has been a long time coming, since it would trace back to year 2016 when I first built my team from scratch. Initially, it was about what I learnt as a first-time leader at a tech startup and I hoped it would benefit those struggling as a first-time leader. As I reflected further, I realised that a leader’s journey is nothing without those whom they are leading, i.e. my team members*. Really, the lessons learnt throughout my leadership journey are what they have taught me as I led the team with their feedback, support and collaboration.

Don’t let impostor syndrome hinder your leadership

Illustration by Karthik Srinivas

I started the year 2020 with new energy and hope — a little more than previous years. My major contract with a large tech startup was coming to an end, and instead of feeling lost, I felt super excited to explore new opportunities ahead of me. I had my new branding and website up, a few content strategy workshops with a client completed in February, and I had just given my first talk at the Design Leadership KL event in early March. …

When you feel overwhelmed but you’re supposed to provide direction… what do you do?

Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

I will be the first to admit that during this period of helplessness for millions of people, I too feel incredibly anxious at times.

As I scroll through news and social media, considering the perspectives of family members, friends, the media, politicians, designers and design leaders on Twitter and LinkedIn — I realise that none of us are exempt from the very personal implications of Covid-19 to our lives.

Parents worry for their children, whether young or married, because they are dear but not near. My mom would panic when she hears my 37 year-old sister catching a fever, 322…

Guidance for first-time leaders and managers

Illustrated by Keller Design for this article

In my previous article on preparing for job interviews as a hiring manager, I mentioned that the battle is half won in preparation. Here is the other half of the battle, and the lessons I have learnt in the actual interviews.

We have all been there — the cold sweat, the waking up early to dress up smartly, arriving 30 to 60 minutes before the interview schedule, the 1001 ways we imagined failing the interview and more. Because we know how unsettling and uncomfortable it can be, as an interviewer now, aim to empathise with those whom you are interviewing…

Guidance for first-time leaders and managers

Illustrated by Keller Design for this article

Many speak of job interview jitters from the interviewee’s perspective, but rarely from the hiring manager’s perspective. Here’s one, and perhaps an embarrassing one.

During my stint as Content Editor at Traveloka (Malaysia) more than four years ago, I was just expecting an editing job after five years working in journalism and editorial. It was also my first time working in a start-up, so I was oblivious to the culture of ‘the limit is how much you want to learn’.

I was the first person hired on the Design team (not called ‘Design’ yet at the time), and it was…

Many people walk into their job interviews only to fail them. Of course, no one consciously chooses to fail their job interviews — but why is it that there are so many job opportunities (even during this retrenchment-crazy time) and so few positions filled? (just do a quick search on job portals & LinkedIn!)

The reasons are aplenty, but let’s take a stab at it from the other side with my experience of interviewing over 100 candidates in the past year ranging from design, writing, IT and research roles.

1. Appearing uninterested and indifferent

Pei Ling Chin

Independent Researcher, Content Strategist and Leadership Mentor in Malaysia. Previously Design Lead at Traveloka Malaysia & Singapore.

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