Since four of the five members of my family could be classified as sensitive, the following article is most applicable.
Sensitive people get a bad rap. They make up 15-20% of the population. These people can experience sounds, feelings, and even the presence of other people much more intensely than the average person. Their strong emotions can be used to their benefit. They can communicate more effectively because they don’t just hear the words of others, but also catch on to subtleties in gesture and tone.
You think deeply. When life throws you a curve, you retreat into your shell, thinking through every aspect of what transpired before taking action. Small things (in your life and other people’s lives) can have a big impact on you. Less sensitive people often act without thinking – or caring.
You are detail-oriented. You see details others miss, and you aren’t content until you’ve dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s. This is a strength that is highly valuable in the right profession.
You take longer to reach decisions – since you are prone to dig deep beneath the surface. You can’t help but try to run every possible outcome through your head, often at the expense of the ticking clock.
You are crushed by bad decisions. When you finally make a decision and it turns out to be a poor choice, you take it much harder than most. This can slow down your decision-making process even more, as fear of making a bad decision is what slows you down in the first place.
You are emotionally reactive. When left to your own devices, you have a knee-jerk reaction to your feelings. You also have strong reactions to what others are going through. When your emotions come on strong it’s easy to let them hijack your behavior. The hard part is channeling your behavior into producing the behavior you want.
You take criticism harshly – because of your strong feelings and intense emotional reactions. Though you may overreact to criticism initially, you also have the tendency to think hard about things and explore them deeply (much better than insensitive people). In the long run your inability to shrug it off helps you grow and make appropriate changes, again, more so than insensitive people.
You work well in teams. Your unique ability to take other people’s feelings into account, weigh different aspects of multifaceted situations, and pay attention to the smaller details makes you extremely valuable in a team environment. This can backfire if you are asked to make the final decision, as you are better suited to offering input and analysis. In the real world this means you are less likely to receive credit for all you do.
You have great manners. Your heightened awareness of the emotions of others makes you highly conscientious. Unlike most insensitive people, you pay close attention to how your behavior affects other people and have the good manners to show for it. You also get particularly irked when other people are rude.
Open offices drive you crazy. Your sensitivity to other people, loud noises, and other stimuli makes it practically impossible for you to work effectively in an open office environment. You’re better off in a cube or working from home.
Like many things in life, being a highly sensitive person is both a blessing and a curse. It all comes down to what you make of it.
Dr. Travis Bradberry is the coauthor of the book Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and serves more than 75% of Fortune 500 companies. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/signs-youre-highly-sensitive-person-dr-travis-bradberry