In a recent conversation with a friend, I found myself discussing the potential benefits of being a “highly sensitive person.” Both my friend and I have taken the HSP test and found that we are, indeed, highly sensitive. The term was coined by Dr. Elaine N. Aron in 1996. Highly sensitive people, Aron asserts, process sensory information more thoroughly than others due to a biological difference in the nervous system.
This kind of sensitivity can manifest as apparent shyness. Therefore, it is often viewed as a liability. Highly sensitive people tend to process information and ideas internally, rather than through discussions with groups of people. While they are often thoughtful and detail oriented, they frequently experience stress when being watched and may therefore be overlooked in the workplace, for example.
In addition, as my friend and I discussed, being highly sensitive means that information received has a more dramatic impact than it does for others. Highly sensitive people are more likely to prefer small gatherings with a few friends to large parties. As this relates to the workplace, it may be more difficult for highly sensitive people to compartmentalize their work life. When highly sensitive people are stuck in jobs they dislike, it is harder for them to leave the office behind at the end of the day and go about their lives.
For highly sensitive people who simply need to find work to make ends meet, this trait may be considered a liability. But over the long term, being highly sensitive means being aware of the subtleties of a job – or a relationship, a city, a medical suggestion, or what have you. And this allows for a heightened sense of intuition that is likely to ultimately lead a highly sensitive person toward a life path that is genuine and authentic.