How to Be Happy at Work as a Highly Sensitive Person

Working with Others 

You can be dedicated, hard-working and very productive in a supportive environment with clear expectations and the flexibility to work at your own pace. You tend to “go along to get along” and avoid making waves. You are very approachable and enjoy camaraderie and pleasant exchanges with coworkers. 

You help your team to stay positive and to consider or embrace diverse opinions and alternative viewpoints and you are able to add a meaningful perspective. On the other hand, you tend to hesitate in making decisions. Your ability to listen and understand people’s positions can often lead them to believe that you agree with them and will back them up.

They are then surprised and disappointed when they discover you were just listening, not actively agreeing. You are good at mediating and helping to mend fences when others disagree, but have a harder time mending your own. You might secretly want recognition, but you avoid bringing attention to yourself and may appear uncomfortable and become self-effacing when it comes.

Ideal Environment 

Your ideal work environment is calm, predictable, and harmonious. You relax and work well when the team is getting along and things are running smoothly. You thrive with familiar routines, regularly scheduled meetings, and clear deadlines that give you plenty of time to work steadily at your own pace.

Not wanting to ask for validation, you expect rewards and promotions to be fairly given and clearly contingent upon merit and productivity. In the flow of a project, you readily put your own needs aside to work for the greater good of the team or organization. It is particularly important for you to feel good about your job and the work you do.

Typical Challenges

Because you like the familiar, you may get thrown off course if things change rapidly and unpredictably with no time to adjust. You may not like having to make decisions yourself, but you don’t want decisions or changes forced upon you either–especially if they feel arbitrary. You may procrastinate and struggle with inaction when you need to make a decision that impacts others or might trigger a reaction in them. 

You would rather wait for agreement and consensus. Feeling overlooked or discounted at work may trigger your fear of being unimportant, and cause you to act as if the opinions, ideas, and agendas of others are more important than yours. When upset at work, you are unlikely to voice your concerns, but may instead slow your pace in silent and stubborn objection that can frustrate others.

Taking Guidance 

You appreciate a collaborative mentoring relationship and work well under well-defined lines of leadership because you tend not to like the pressure of decision-making. You may be particularly responsive to, and work well with, a dynamic and charismatic boss who values your contributions. You also appreciate a manager that is congenial and brings a sense of connection and synergy to the team.

Carried by the energy and enthusiasm of a strong supervisor, you will work tirelessly with little consideration of your own needs. At times you may feel ambivalent about authority.

You may have trouble self-starting or staying on task and resent feeling pressured to make a decision or take an action before you feel comfortable to do so. You may become inactive or stubborn and become resistant to authority.

Leadership Style

As a leader, you have the ability to see all points of view and are adept at mediating differences and settling disputes when there are difficulties between team members. You also engender a naturally kind, accepting, and inclusive atmosphere on the team. You are careful, thoughtful, thorough, and able to weigh many sides of any issue presented, but you can get stuck in needing extensive data and wanting to think too broadly before making a decision.

To avoid conflict, you may announce major decisions without warning or sufficient discussion, which can evoke confusion and resentment. You may have difficulty managing distractions, and might be prone to getting caught up in unimportant tasks, which can make setting priorities and deciding what is most essential difficult. Other challenges you may face in leadership include not wanting to take sides, having “peace at any cost,” being vague or obfuscating in strategic planning, wanting to stay in the comfort zone or the familiar, and avoiding taking risks.

Keys to Growth

  1. Pay more attention to yourself and develop greater attunement to what you actually feel, want, think, and need.
  2. Practice expressing your feelings, needs, and ideas even when they may be in opposition to others; take risks and notice how authenticity (not self-forgetting) brings connection.
  3. When tempted to zone out, consciously become more dynamic, active and assertive rather than escaping into numbing activities or being passive with others.
  4. Notice yourself not agreeing with others and how you handle this uncomfortable energy internally before speaking/acting.
  5. Practice saying “maybe” before making commitments you may regret later, and become more comfortable saying “no”.
  6. Become more aware of your fears around conflict and disagreement and tune into your own energy when facing tense people or situations; breathe and let it move through.
  7. Use your natural abilities to mediate and validate divergent views to appreciate conflict and deal with it directly, seeing that embracing differences actually brings people together.
  8. Become more aware of and comfortable with the natural movement of “negative” emotions and energies, such as aggression and conflict; open and allow them to pass through.
  9. Ground yourself in your body and become more active physically in whatever way feels natural (exercise, walking); more rigorous activity can help fear and conflict move through.
  10. Practice “radical self-care” and place your needs before others (perhaps in ways that seem extravagant to you at first).
  11. Watch the tendency to deflect praise or attention and try to take it in positive regard, even if uncomfortable at first.
  12. Notice wanting to merge with others and any dependencies, resentments, or tendencies to blame that arise.

You might like:

Highly Sensitive Person In The Workplace 
The Highly Sensitive Person Test