I was seated next to a young woman at an evening workshop. The topic of sensitivity came up. The woman confided to the crowd that she tends to be affected by the emotions of others. I explained that some people are more sensitive than others and can pick up on things that others don’t. Some call this empathy. Others call it being an “empath,” especially for those of us who seem highly tuned in.
For a creative type, sensitivity has many advantages, since it can cause you to create great works of art or music. For a coach, healer, therapist, or anyone in sales, picking up on verbal and non-verbal cues can be a highly effective tool to understanding what the client or customer is really feeling.
The emphasis on EQ instead of IQ
This is one reason why programs teaching companies about “EQ,” or emotional intelligence, have become so popular. According to Forbes Magazine, EQ increases productivity and employee retention. Entrepreneur Magazine includes empathy and caring in the “5 pillars of emotional intelligence.”
This trend, in my opinion, is a welcome change. I’ve worked with far too many managers who lacked intuition, empathy, and caring. They had no clue that there was a massive undercurrent of discontent within their ranks. I could always detect it shortly after I was hired from people’s tones, mannerisms, and facial expressions. Some employers missed the mark with clients as well and then wondered why they lost business.
I’m not saying you should be a doormat or someone who cries at the drop of a hat but some level of sensitivity is needed to tune into others. It can also fuel your passion or your cause. Companies like Tom’s Shoes, Ben & Jerry’s, Newman’s Own, and many others totally get this and are very successful. Social entrepreneurship is huge!
If you are a sensitive person, people may be drawn to you because of your listening skills or your good nature. Here are some tips to maintain balance:
1) Create boundaries both personally and professionally so that you don’t feel drained.
2) Avoid watching or reading things that are too violent, disturbing, or upsetting.
3) Listen and help people find solutions but don’t feel you need to do everything for them.
4) Don’t take everything personally! Sometimes people say and do things that have nothing to do with you.
5) Step up and speak up! Sensitive people can be change agents. Harness that power! Don’t stifle it.
What do you think? Can you be sensitive and successful? Feel free to comment below.
Dori “the Drum Chick” Staehle, MBA lives in the Raleigh, NC area and owns Rock the Next Stage and Next Stage Drumming. She’s an inspirational speaker, drum healer, consultant for ADHD and creative types, and best-selling author of Find Your Divine Rhythm: A Creative’s Success Formula. For more info or to book Dori, click here.