Contrary to what many people may think, a highly sensitive person (usually called HSP, for short) is not the opposite of an insensitive person. If the latter is clearly an undesirable quality, the former is not “all sugar and spice and all things nice” either. The high sensitivity trait present in 20 percent of the population is not merely a psychological condition. Scientific testing through Functional MRI shows that the brains of HSPs exhibit a more powerful response to emotional stimuli than people who are not highly sensitive. That’s because they have a genetic variation that sets off more intense sentiments when exposed to negative and positive triggers. Another interesting fact is, 70 percent of highly sensitive people are introverts.
What are the common traits of a highly sensitive person?
According to Elaine Aron, a renowned psychologist who pioneered the study on high sensitivity in persons, these are the common traits found in HSPs:
- They quickly get overwhelmed by a busy or noisy environment; hence, they do not enjoy loud concerts, spectator sports in stadiums, fireworks displays, or going to a busy mall. After a busy day, HSPs retreat to a quiet place to calm down.
- They cannot multitask effectively. If they are given a number of assorted tasks to complete within a short deadline, the HSP easily gets flustered and is less productive.
- They work better in cubicles without close monitoring. The flurry of activities going on in open wworkspacesare distractions that hinder HSPs from focusing on the work at hand while meticulous supervision from a boss also stunts their performance.
- They are sensitive to other people’s feelings and take extra care to make them comfortable and be caring and understanding. With tactfulness, they choose their actions and words to avoid hurting others. Conversely, they are also upset by perceived criticism.
- They are moved by beauty, admiring art, music, and nature and appreciate the creativity in fashion and food presentations.
- They dislike watching violent movies and shows because films of this genre make them anxious. In like manner, they also avoid confrontations with other people.
- They have a rich inner life. HSPs can find contentment in solitude. By reflecting on feelings, thoughts, and actions, they are able to understand other people better. They don’t enjoy small meaningless talk. They have a rich imagination and are quite creative.
The Pros and Cons of a Highly Sensitive Person
Highly sensitive person traits bring their own advantages and disadvantages. Uncontrolled, they can be overpowering, putting the person whose nervous system is more acutely wired to be in a constant state of anxiety and nervousness. The challenge lies in regulating them and making reason and objectivity dominate unhealthy emotions.
1. They make more thoughtful partners, friends, neighbors, and co-workers.
The highly sensitive person is more aware of subtleties and nuances in another person’s behavior. They can detect discomfort or distress and will find ways to make that person feel more at ease. Their caring and compassionate nature make them mindful of their behavior to avoid offending others.
2. They are meticulous and thorough, and pay extra attention to details.
This highly sensitive person trait is valuable in the right situation. Being detail-oriented delivers products done to the highest standards which is pleasing to clients. It also leads to higher efficiency, eliminating the need to revise sloppy work that wastes time and other resources.
3. They are more creative.
Highly sensitive persons have vivid imagination and respond more intensely to stimuli. They see the world through a larger lens. Many artists, authors, songwriters, and people in the performing arts are highly sensitive and creative, giving them the gift to touch people with their work.
4. They have superb communication skills.
HSPs are deeply perceptive and attuned to other people’s messages, not only in their spoken words but also in their gestures and tone. This sensitivity forges more open exchange of thoughts and ideas.
5. They make good team members.
Their understanding of the feelings of other team members make them think through all aspects of a decision. Being naturally fastidious, they see hidden aspects of a new project or policy that may have been missed by the other team members.
1. They are more prone to anxiety, depression, sleeping disorders, and physical conditions if they cannot control their intense negative reactions to a situation or thing.
2. Their extreme sensitivity make relationships strained and difficult because they are easily hurt or angered. A harmless statement becomes an insult, and a mild reprimand is seen as strong criticism.
3. They get quickly overwhelmed if given simultaneous tasks and become less productive.
4. They cannot make quick decisions. They have to think over every detail in a discussion and ultimately take longer to decide.
5. They suffer from emotional deprivation. Their powerful sensitivity and innate reaction to care for other people demands self-sacrifice, leaving them emotionally deprived and empty.