In a recent blog article, I wrote that I was relocating to Texas. Well, that was about two months ago and because I shut down my business in Oregon I now find myself looking for work again at age 61. I have worked for years in Information Technology for a large financial institution and took an early retirement a few years back to pursue my small business idea. Now with a gap of five years or so, I need to get back to the corporate workforce to serve as an anchor job, while I’m here in Texas or until I can reestablish my business.
Now, to be honest, I never liked working in corporate America and never thought that I’d ever have to go back to find employment there. But, life has its interesting way of steering you round and round, sometimes in circular fashion. Now that I am back pursuing a regular job again, I have given a lot of thought to what kind of job or job environment would best suit me as a highly sensitive man. And more broadly, what kind of environment would be best for HSPs, regardless of the industry?
Lately, I’ve been seeing more and more articles published about the trend towards looking for more empathetic and emotionally intelligent workers. There seems to be some movement in favor of the soft skills that HSPs tend to naturally have and are most comfortable using at work and home. This all tends to make for interesting TED talks, but where exactly are these type of jobs? Having worked an entire career in Information Technology, a competitive, high stress and almost soulless job, it seems almost impossible to find an IT firm that would even consider these newly valued traits, the qualities which HSPs bring to the table.
As an IT manager, I know I brought a penchant for clear communication, empathy for staff, emphasis on esprit de corps, a genuine interest in them as people, and a recognition that we all rise or fall together. I was well liked by my teams and respected by other managers within the organization. Like most HSPs, I valued deeper meaning in the job, more harmony, and cohesiveness within the team and a desire to get the job done right, even if it meant doing it more deliberately.
I enjoyed coaching my teams and enjoyed watching them grow and develop as the years went by. These are traits that HSPs bring to management. I was most comfortable when my style was not constantly challenged and undue pressure was placed on my teams and myself that I thought was unreasonable. I was fortunate for many years to be reporting to a manager, who valued my contributions and the management style I employed.
As deep thinkers and emotionally connected individuals do HSPs make better managers or even better workers? I think the answer is clearly yes. Because we are more reflective, we naturally process more data and information more carefully, making us if given the time, more accurate thinkers. We absorb more information, and although this may cause overwhelm if not given space and time to process we can analyze more data points than most and formulate a clearer big picture perspective.
Because of our enormous potential for empathy, we also tend to be more nuanced in our handling and dealing with people. Not only does this make us better team members, but especially better leaders.
Our characteristics such as high perception, empathy, focus on justice and fairness, loyalty, our passion, creativity, and generosity collectively make us almost the perfect employee. Yet, where is the box on the application form where you can check off for HSP?
Nowhere. And largely because, we are often seen by non-HSPs as individuals with singular HSP characteristics in the negative, such as – high sensitivity, or overly emotional, or prone to overwhelm. However, when seen as a whole, the collective of our HSP characteristics mentioned above, the perspective is entirely different. The prejudice against HSPs is based on ignorance, pure and simple. In fact, I think companies should be seeking out HSPs for three main reasons: creativity, loyalty, and empathy.
How we perform as employees in the workplace is a function of the environment itself. Given encouragement, space and time, we are among the most gifted, most talented staff members any company can have. Yet, if the environment is toxic, at least to HSPs, we can wilt like flowers in a waterless vase. Seems simple enough.
The notion of HSPs as a personality type is gaining traction amongst those in the world of psychology and the world of the arts but doesn’t seem to be making a whole lot of headway in corporate HR or in management suites. Much still needs to be done to promote the benefits or hiring and nurturing of HSPs and training managers on how to get the most from the highly sensing worker.
There is no question we are out there in numbers (twenty percent of the population), and straddle across racial, gender and ethnic lines. If twenty percent of your employees are underperforming because your environment sucks, who’s fault is that? And what is that telling you about you?
For HSMs and HSPs, due to all things discussed in this article, we tend towards working in areas where competitiveness, aggressiveness, and high energy are at a minimum, which of course, relegates many us to low demand, low paying jobs. Sad but true. Is it possible to have high meaningfulness at work and high pay? Do these two things ever meet in the work vortex? Yes, I think it can be found, but needs a more considerate approach to job seeking. It requires more flexibility and more willingness to do an exhaustive search, but I do believe it can happen. That’s my plan anyway.
Here’s some tips on planning this out and finding best fit jobs for HSMs.
Thanks for dropping by, until next week…
Bill Allen lives in Bend, Oregon. He is a certified hypnotist and brain training coach at BrainPilots.com. He believes that male sensitivity is not so rare, but it can be confounding for most males living in a culture of masculine insensitivity which teaches boys and men to disconnect from their feelings and emotions. His intent is to use this blog to chronicle his personal journey and share with others.