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Do you have Highly Sensitive People in your workplace?

A highly sensitive person (HSP) is someone who is very sensitive to the world around them, they are highly perceptive and can preempt things happening in their environment because their nervous system is more sensitive than other people’s.

They are people who have a keen imagination; are often labelled too shy or too sensitive; who perform poorly when being observed even though they are usually competent; have vivid dreams; for whom time alone each day is essential and find they are quickly overwhelmed by noise and confusion, crowded parties, hectic office life.

Highly sensitive people are often very bright and creative but many suffer from low self esteem. It is estimated that around 20% of the population are HSP and around a further 30% of us are close to it. An HSP can have some problems in the workplace though due to their sensitive nature, they are a great asset though so informed Leaders should be able to manage HSPs easily and get the best out of them. Here are our top tips on how to do this:

  • Train them in assertiveness skills so that they are more equipped to deal with difficult behaviours.
  • Find the quietest spot for them to sit and don’t ask them to hot desk.
  • Allow them to plan their time so that they can arrive to a meeting early and get prepared, avoid situations where they have to run from meeting to meeting.
  • Don’t put them in an environment where they will be observed working.
  • Never lie to them or try to skirt an issue, they are very sensitive to these behaviours and it will lose your credibility with them.
  • Give them space - Don’t ask them for their opinion NOW - give them time and tell them when to come back to you with a response. They work best when they have the space to think things through.

Download our Guide on Employee Wellbeing here.

Useful for HSPs this short video on Beware the Boundary Violators.

In a fast paced, get it done now environment, people often misunderstand HSP’s and judge them unfairly. They are just as productive and effective as other team members and indeed have particular talents so make sure you tune into them, enable them to flourish and watch the rewards as they grow and flourish.

For more on HSPs read The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron.

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