The Highly Sensitive Leader

high sensitivity

Are you sensitive to your environment, process things deeply, have a rich inner life, and vivid dreams?

Are you conscientious, highly intuitive, or exquisitely aware of light, noise, pain, and others’ emotions?  Do you thrive best in low stimulating environments?  Are you constantly being told that you are too sensitive or take things too personally?

If so, you may be genetically wired with a trait called High Sensitivity. 

The highly sensitive person (HSP) trait was first discovered by Dr. Elaine Aron who found that 20 – 30 percent of the population have this highly attuned nervous system.  In an interview with Forbes Dr. Aron explains her fascinating findings about how HSPs function in the work environment and just how valuable they can be to an employer.

If you want to know more about this trait or to see if you carry it take the self-test on Dr. Aron’s web site.  

This is a very important assessment so don’t read on until it’s complete. 

Did your results show that you are, indeed, an HSP?  If so, you may not be surprised.   You may, in fact, have suspected this on some level all along.  What you might not realize, though, is that this trait is a blessing – not a curse.  While being an HSP in the corporate world does come with its set of challenges, there are many more benefits as referenced in this LinkedIn article. 

I, also, am an HSP and I remember all too well the highly chaotic corporate environments that did not align with my need for low stimulation.  Situations, conflict, and even celebratory events were draining and stayed on my mind for long periods of time.  I processed certain events so deeply that they even showed up in my dreams.  The constant visibility of my roles left me feeling vulnerable and self-conscious.  Long days and political games burned me out quickly because I did not understand the nuances of my trait.  My time in the corporate world had me wishing daily for a thick office door with a deadbolt.  Even more appealing was the thought of shutting myself in a dark closet to escape the overwhelm. 

What I did realize, though, was the ability I had to do certain things that others could not do. 

I just did not link those abilities to my superpower of being an HSP.  Yes, it’s a superpower and if you have it, I encourage you to embrace it.  I could (and still can) put “reading between the lines” to shame.   And when it comes to “reading the room” – I absorb the energy before I even walk through the door.  I know who is having a bad day, who needs more attention, and who needs words of encouragement.  It’s not a magic trick – it’s my HSP trait.  We are a special breed and our HSP trait helps us in sales meetings, negotiations, leading a team, giving feedback, weighing pros and cons, and encouraging participation from others.  We like to listen and observe, all the while processing and soaking in all the non-verbal and emotional cues.  When we act, we do it surgically and with precision, with patience, with intent, and with perfect timing. 

Many of my HSP clients come to coaching for help to eliminate this “curse.”  However, as an HSP myself, I help them safely navigate the corporate environment while keeping their superpower (and their integrity) intact.  If you are an HSP contact me and let me know how this trait has impacted your life.

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Workplace Wellness