High sensitivity is not yet taken very seriously by many people, but one in six people are highly sensitive. These people need to be treated differently, especially in the workplace. So, how do you best deal with them at work? Are you an HSP?
You get tired quickly and get your work done less quickly than your colleagues. You hear every noise or disturbance in the office. Recognizable? Then there is a good chance that you are highly sensitive.
Burnout or HSP?
First of all and very important, it’s a trait, not a disorder. There is therefore no doctor who can label you as highly sensitive. You can only draw the preliminary conclusion of whether you are highly sensitive on the basis of tests. As a result, you can talk to a professional to determine whether it is structural because there could also be burnout, for example.
The core of high sensitivity is: ‘You are more sensitive to information from your environment (1), you constantly process that information in depth at different levels (2) and you react to it more intensely than your colleagues (3). For example, you are more bothered by radio or by disagreements between colleagues. As a result, you can experience more stress or be emotionally out of balance more quickly.
Share with your employer
What you can do best if you suffer from high sensitivity in the workplace is difficult to determine. For example, it is not a good idea to immediately start a conversation with an employer. You should only share it if your boss is open to it, but often that is not the case. Therefore, it is recommended that you do not talk about high sensitivity, but about how that characteristic works out for you.
Please do not discuss the office’s atmosphere, but the effect that this has on your concentration and effectiveness. In this way, you still get to work with the problem, but you do not mention the word highly sensitive. It would be nicer if employers understood what it is, but most managers have a very limited idea of it.
This is not so strange: there is still relatively little awareness about this trait among a large group and some even doubt its existence.
Are you highly sensitive?
Here are some of the traits of highly sensitive people:
- you notice subtle information from the environment;
- you are experiencing physical stimuli;
- you are being quickly touched by music or art;
- your sense can be influenced by the atmosphere;
- you have great empathy;
- you have a strong sense of justice;
- you are able to look at issues from different angles;
- you have difficulty with changes;
- you are self-critical;
- you quickly become emotional;
- you come up with creative solutions.
Here is what you really can do
In order to function optimally with high sensitivity, it is important to analyze how it works out for you. If you know which stimuli you are sensitive to, you can think of a way to deal with them. This gives you a better starting point for a conversation with your employer. After all, you are responsible for creating an optimal situation yourself. Communicating from a victim role often does not benefit a performance appraisal. Discussing what you need to function better does.
There is a threshold for entering into a discussion with the employer about this. People with high sensitivity do not want to be a burden to others, and that is an obstacle to a good conversation with the HR department or management.
You should notice that highly sensitive people stand up for their customers, patients, and students, but when it comes to themselves, they find that very difficult. In addition, it can be difficult for a highly sensitive person to imagine that an employer does not understand him or her because he or she naturally has that empathy.
It would help if much more became known about high sensitivity. 16 percent of all employees are highly sensitive and we never talk about it. Employers also have an interest in a satisfied employee. Yet many companies think strongly from the position of the function and not from the people. While the question of how you can optimally use someone’s talents for a company is more meaningful.
If mutual understanding eventually arises between employer and employee and an optimal workplace is created, for example through good headphones and clear agreements about the mutual atmosphere, a highly sensitive employee can be very valuable to an organization. There are a lot of points through which a company can benefit from the talents of highly sensitive employees.
The most important one? The in-depth analysis of the present and the future. A highly sensitive person can make such a thorough analysis because he or she can consider all influences at the same time. That has a lot of added value for a team because it naturally increases the quality of a strategy enormously.
Happiness at work
Joanne is a professional and she provides training courses to employers and employees on how to be happy in the workplace. She pays a lot of attention to high sensitivity. It is her mission to ensure that highly sensitive employees ‘come out of the closet’ so that they become happy again at work and above all get the most out of their talents.
Her focus has everything to do with her own career. She started as a child psychologist and after about ten years found out that she is highly sensitive. ‘I filled out a questionnaire and then the penny dropped for me. For me, it mainly shows that I am very sensitive to the atmosphere and have an analytical mind. There is of course a list of characteristics of highly sensitive people, but you never meet all the characteristics; for example, I am not introverted at all.”
Discussions with employer
She entered into a conversation with her employer, but it proved difficult for her to function in a harsh atmosphere where little attention is paid to the emotional side of people. She decided to change course and get started with ‘happiness at work’. “It became my mission to promote companies where high sensitivity is accepted. After all, everyone is full of inclusivity, but high sensitivity is still too little accepted. It is mainly a matter of being yourself in the workplace. If you, as an employer, pay some attention to this, you can actually bring out the talents of highly sensitive people.’
She calls for action from both employers and employees. ‘As an employee, you should try to tell honestly what is going on and the employer should be open to this so that you can work on it together. Fortunately, it is negotiable at my current employer and I was even allowed to do training to become a happiness officer. I also wish other people that they find that openness in their employer.’
My personal thoughts
I myself am an HSP and found this out very late in life. I am happy about learning this as it helps explain who I am and what happened to me in the past. Sometimes things went so wrong, that I started to feel guilty that I reacted so differently. Now I know that I did not react just to be stubborn, but that I was born with a different trait, it is innate.
Now, I see it as a challenge to find more of these like-minded people and sometimes I do. They have lived with the same kind of issues that I had. As soon as they become aware of their trait, it changes their life for the better.
What you should do
Do the test as I have mentioned in my article here and find out whether you have this trait, especially when you are in a working situation. If you really are, then follow my suggestions in the text above and start a discussion with your company. Maybe they are very responsive to what you have to say and then again maybe they are not.
In the latter case, you have two choices: you will stay where you are and accept the conditions and live by them or you will look for another job. In looking for another job you will run the risk of ending up in the same situation. So, here I propose that you start your own internet business. You can even start whilst still working for your current employer and prepare your own escape route.
Everybody has to take a view of their personal situation. Are you happy or not and if so, why is it that I am so happy or unhappy. If you are happy, no problem. If you are not, then take some positive action. Talk to your colleagues, bosses or look around you for another job. Or take some drastic action in choosing to become your own boss.
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