Source | firstround.com
In college, Maggie Leung had a job that was truly a nightmare.
She worked at a rental car outfit that would routinely overbook their fleet. Her workdays usually involved telling irate customers that they were out of luck. “So I figured I’d use the opportunity to learn — to try to read different types of people and defuse them as fast as possible. What did I have to lose? They were pissed anyway.”
Little did she know she was developing a muscle that would go on to be a key professional asset, first as a news editor and now as VP of Content at Nerdwallet. Today, she manages about 100 writers and editors located across the country. In each of these roles, she’s leveraged her ability to suss out what people around her need to succeed and how every manner of work situation can be constructively resolved.
Today, Leung calls this skill “dynamic empathy” — quickly gaining an understanding of how a colleague feels and figuring out how to act on it in a swiftly changing environment. It’s not innate and can be learned. While learning it herself, Leung crafted lists of questions that would prime her to handle the most difficult scenarios that arise in the workplace. Each set of questions is designed to detangle thorny interactions, get to the core of the matter, and achieve mutual understanding.