How to Best Deal With a Highly Sensitive Person

Highly Sensitive Persons, or HSPs, are 15 to 20 percent of the population. They are, in general, very bright and creative people who seem to have a more finely tuned nervous system, and as I say, "have an ongoing tug-of-war between their head and their heart," while processing incoming information and subtleties in their environment more deeply than the non-highly sensitive person.

Take the test: Are You a Highly Sensitive Person?

I've been asked how do you best deal with HSPs?

First off, understand HSPs and the trait of high sensitivity.

In romantic or close personal relationships I recommend, especially if you're not an HSP, to be a buffer or a shield between your loved one and the outside, less-than-sensitive world.

Make sure that they have the opportunity to get the required alone time to calm their finely-tuned nervous system, which helps them feel in control.

In a relationship with an HSP if there is something like a business event or a party that it would be good to attend, but your highly sensitive partner may not feel good about facing such an event, I suggest you cherish their feelings. Say something like "Because it would important for me to go to this event and I really want you to come with me, how about if we go for 15 minutes. I'll say my 'hellos' and make the obligatory appearance, and if you aren't comfortable then, we'll leave. Are you willing and comfortable to go under those conditions?".

In many cases an HSP will say "Yes. I can accept and agree to that." Often times after that initial 15 minutes, when the HSP is asked if they are comfortable or need to leave, they are instead happy to stay, and may be one of the last to leave. Because they were "in control" and not forced to do something they didn't want to do.

As I say "Set healthy boundaries," and take good care of yourself.

Take care of them, understand and accept the price that comes with the prize of being a highly sensitivity person or being with an HSP.

We've all heard of the "Golden Rule" as in "do unto others as you'd have done unto"… well, when I talk about Non-HSPs dealing with HSPs I talk about the "Platinum Rule" as in "do unto HSPs as they would want to be done unto." In other words, be aware of the different temperament and needs of an HSP - and don't use yourself as the only benchmark.

Understand that they may need to have more "alone time," that they want to feel "in control," that they may take more time to process things and may not be able to give you an answer or decision immediately, but have to give it some thought and ruminate on it before formulating an answer.

I talk about how HSP may become overwhelmed more easily than non-HSP and because they have a finer-tuned nervous system, may not be able to "keep up with" a non-highly sensitive partner. Understand and accept this is part of their temperament.

Now that we've touched upon dealing with HSPs at home, what about HSPs at the workplace. Here's how to best deal with HSCs (Highly Sensitive Co-Workers) :

For many employers, it is hard to accept that there are people with different nervous systems and temperaments, but in return, HSP can be some of the most loyal, hardworking, meticulous workers you'll ever find.

As they don't work well under scrutiny of being micro managed, I suggest you give an HSP employee a project (HSP seems to love projects). Give the parameters, the expectation, the formation and leave them to focus on the project and in most all cases you'll be thrilled with the outcome.

Every organization would probably benefit greatly from having an HSP or two.

They think "What if?" not always "What is?" they look down the road at the possible consequences … "What if we do this? What are the ramifications?" They think about scenarios more deeply than non-HSPs, where as the non-HSP may just say "What's the project?" and "What's the best and easiest way to get it done?" Period.

A story I tell about a highly sensitive friend of mine, we'll call him Edward, because that's his name.

They are, as Dr. Elaine Aron calls them, the "priestly advisors," as opposed to the "warrior kings."

And same as with romantic relationships, apply the "Platinum Rule" - "Do unto HSPs as they would want to be done unto." In other words, be aware of the different temperaments and needs and don't use yourself, especially if you're not an HSP, as the only benchmark and standard.

Understand that they may need to have more "alone time," that they want to feel "in control," that they may take more time to process things and may not be able to give you an answer or decision immediately, but have to give it some thought and ruminate on it before formulating an answer.

Recommend Dr. Barrie Jaeger's book Making Work Work for the Highly Sensitive Person.

Also I think the famed anthropologist Margret Mead summed it up well when she said:

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed. It is the only thing that ever has."

For more love, life and happiness tips:

5 Tips to Fight Less and Love More

Why Good Women Stay With Bad Men

Roadmap to Reaching Your Dreams

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Jim Hallowes is the Founder of Highly Sensitive People® and www.HighlySensitivePeople.com, Director of the Dr. Pat Allen WANT® Institute Educators of Effective Communication Strategies.

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