HSPs in Businesses
1 in 5 people are born with the trait of high sensitivity and according to research, approx. 70% of them are more on the introverted side and 30% are more extroverted or classed as high sensation seekers.
Many HSPs work in the corporate world because they make great leaders, they also work in our public institutions or in difficult or challenging environments or jobs. Most are highly career focused. They are often hardworking individuals, driven by a sense of purpose, they want to make a difference, not only in their roles but often in society too.
However a lot of HSPs challenge themselves too much or become over-achievers, especially if they are trying to mask their trait. This is because sensitivity has generally been perceived as a weakness in Western society.
I therefore offer talks and workshops about the trait, so that sensitivity is recognised as a strength and so that HSPs don't have to hide who they are or put on a 'false front' in order to 'fit in'.
The business world, our public institutions and various organisations undoubtedly undervalue people who are born with the trait of high sensitivity, even though the most common qualities of HSPs include:
High levels of empathy
Great listening abilities
High levels of creativity
Good problem-solving skills
Highly conscientious and determined
A strong sense of loyalty
An ability to see the bigger picture
The latest research into the study of the ‘highly sensitive brain’ with FMRI scanning especially looking at the areas associated with empathy and sensory processing. show that HSPs have stronger activation of brain regions involved in awareness, empathy and self-other processing than non- HSPs. (Dr Elaine Aron)
"The key to everything is empathy, because nothing is more fruitful than walking in the shoes of others." - Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft
What careers are HSPs usually drawn to?
HSPs often go into professions where their creative and artistic gifts can be expressed, where their natural ‘advisory’ qualities can be used, or where love, compassion or healing is needed.
A few examples of the roles HSPs naturally gravitate towards include:
Doctors, nurses, teachers, authors, therapists, healers, artists, actors, researchers, social workers, HR Managers, carers/ healthcare workers, health & fitness or yoga instructors, IT and self-employment.
Others are drawn to the legal, justice or public protection services due to their concerns about social injustice, e.g. police, probation and prison services, solicitors, judges.
Many work for charitable organizations, especially those that deal with the mistreatment of children, people, animals and the environment.
Why do we need more awareness about HSPs in the work-place?
Apart from needing to champion the qualities and gifts of HSPs more, there is also a need for more awareness about the trait and some of the challenges. Most HSPs who are more on the introverted side do not like public speaking and often do worse when competing with others or when being observed/tested and they often get more nervous/shaky during appraisals or interviews.
Overstimulation / Overwhelm:
Research by social neuroscientist Bianca Acevedo and others found that ‘brain activation indicating empathy was stronger in HSPs than non-HSPs when looking at 23 photos of faces showing strong emotion of any type’ and also showed ‘more activity in the mirror neuron system’. These neurons are linked to our capacity to empathize. The activity in them as well as the differences in our biological nervous system may help to explain why HSPs can easily start to feel drained, overwhelmed or burnt out.
Environmental & Sensory stimuli:
There are also a multitude of environmental and sensory triggers that affect HSPs.
A study of the highly sensitive brain by social neuroscientist Bianca Acevedo, Dr Aron and others found that ‘HSPs show heightened awareness of and attention to subtle stimuli and appear to be more reactive to both positive and negative stimuli.’
Being in busy, challenging or negative environments can deplete the energy of HSPs. Excessive noise or being around large groups of people can, for example, leave them feeling over-stimulated and frazzled. Sometimes, they turn to substances such as alcohol or they over eat as a way to 'numb out'.
Overstimulation in their sensory nervous system can often be mistaken for stress, and this can result in HSPs taking more 'sick days' so that they can withdraw from those around them and recharge their energy.
However, if chronic overstimulation/ overwhelm occurs, HSPs can be more susceptible to burnout.
The good news is, there are many simple self-help tools and coping strategies that can be implemented by both employers and employees that can reduce overstimulation or overwhelm in the workplace.
To book a talk about HSPs in the workplace or to book a training day that includes self-help strategies and health & wellbeing tools, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
MY PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND:
I spent twenty-two years working in the corporate world. I've had mainstream careers that included working in the Banking and Insurance Industries, and the Education sector. I also spent ten years working in Her Majesty’s Prison Service (as was), the first two years counselling prisoners with alcohol (substance misuse) problems and the last eight years as a Prison Governor managing Drug & Alcohol Strategy. This included all the drug and alcohol services in HMP Dartmoor, including a CARATS (Drugs) team, a P-ASRO team (Prisons addressing substance related offending programme), the Alcohol Worker, Voluntary & Mandatory Drug Testing, Supply & Reduction (joint partnership working with the Police), IDTS - Methodone programme (Integrated Drug Treatment Services) joint partnership with the NHS, the 12 step programme, the drug dog section and line managing 30 members of staff. It also included joint partnership working with various charities including EDP (Exeter Drug & Alcohol Project).
I have also had a part time private practice as a therapeutic counsellor and holistic therapist since 2005, and the majority of my clients over the years have been nurses, carers, social workers and HR managers. I left the prison service in 2011 to focus on raising awareness about the high sensitivity trait. In 2019 I became an author. I've had two books traditionally published about the high sensitivity trait and my Handbook for Highly Sensitive People has been translated into eleven other languages to date.
Further information on my qualifications and training can be found on the About Me page.