Okay, so maybe we are, but it’s not quite what you think.
When I think of that word, sensitive, I find people associate it with weak individuals who are always sad or depressed or have a victim mentality. As I get older, though, I’ve come to despise that perception. I think it’s interesting that many employers tend to think because they are giving someone a place to work, a salary and other benefits that everything is good. You’re unhappy? Well you’re probably ungrateful, entitled, thin skinned, not a hard worker, etc.
What does being sensitive entail, anyways? A google search brings up two definitions:
- quick to detect or respond to slight changes, signals, or influences.
- (of a person or a person’s behavior) having or displaying a quick and delicate appreciation of others’ feelings.
These are things constantly on my mind as I build my businesses. While I certainly appreciate number 2 (and have been working on that for years), I’m moreso referring to the first part of the definition. A sensitive person is indeed going to pick up on everything as it relates to their external stimuli. Every word said, action took (or not took) is going to be analyzed. They are going to connect it, see patterns and develop an over-all understanding. Add in worrying about how others are affected or feeling and it’s easy to see how a person like this could get overloaded or burn out. It can be downright exhausting at times (and they think it’s strange, too).
What’s funny to me (and getting a little out there I suppose), is that in this day and age, I don’t believe these types of people are in high abundance. There are indeed lots of entitled people out there in what I’ve come to know as the McDonalization of the world. Bright, Shiny objects are everywhere and everyone wants something quick and easy. You want a boyfriend/girlfriend? Go on Tinder. You have a problem? There’s probably a pill you can take. You have an idea for a business? You probably have an expectation that it’s going to be a success in a matter of months. The list goes on, but I find all of these situations aren’t built to last, because there is a lack of understanding or foundation for why something is happening. Things like these take time and include difficult challenges, which no one has time for anymore.
The foundation is the key… and you know what? Truly sensitive people are great at establishing that… and if you want to build a business, practice area, new service offering, go find one. The catch? You also need a great culture. These people are high in demand and they know it. They aren’t going to suffer through a roller coaster of successes/failures for the wrong reasons… which a great culture can prevent.
I’ve often said my goal from a business standpoint is to become a CEO or CMO of a major organization. I’d only worry about three things. Protecting the brand, the assets and people of the organization. When it comes to the employees, I find that many CEO’s are so egotistical that it’s the employees job to take care of him/her. You have to assure them everything is okay, let them know how much they are appreciated, etc. Are you kidding me? It should be the other way around and I’ll tell you why. You need employees to perform their specialty and to do so, they need to be in a great state of mind. They can’t do that if they are too busy taking care of you or worrying about you. The other thing these leaders have in common? They are intimidating. They walk into a room and people instantly become unsettled (and I personally think they enjoy it). Why am I mentioning this?
…because it’s the perfect storm of badness for sensitive people. They are likely leading major initiatives and they need to be in that right state of mind to be able to continue producing (especially creatives). They are resilient, too, so they will probably make it appear as if everything above the surface is just fine, but they are truly a duck on a pond. Start adding in unwanted stress and you’ve started a ticking time bomb. What a lot of people don’t understand is the internalization element. As things add up they take their toll mentally and physically. In the long run, no amount of money or promises are worth going down certain roads …
Some people reading are probably rolling their eyes, right now, but I’ve seen it time and time again. If you want someone invested in you, you need to invest in them and put in some effort to understand them. If they feel the last part, you’ll have an ally for life.
That’s the difference between a good culture and a bad one. That’s literally it.
Coming full circle, if you have a sensitive person on your staff…lucky you, as you’ve likely got a very passionate individual. Show some understanding and watch those energy levels rise to the max!