How To Thrive In Business As a Highly Sensitive Person
Updated: Mar 17
Have you ever wondered if you're highly sensitive?
This was me, I used to think I was weird and sometimes felt like the odd one out amongst colleagues and friends. I was often labelled for being 'far too sensitive'. Truthfully, it wasn't until I started running my Virtual PA business in 2019 that I discovered that what I had was a GIFT, not a flaw!
Now almost a year on, it turns out that most people I work with are highly sensitive too, how interesting is that! And it just works wonderfully...
Today I want to share with you a little insight into my story as a highly sensitive person (HSP), one that will also give you a few tips on how to thrive in business, as well as the DO's and Don'ts for business owners.
Let's start off by exploring what a HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) is.
As research explains "a HSP is someone that is born with nervous systems that are extra sensitive". It also goes onto say that only 20% of the population are highly sensitive or empath. Here's more on that, check-out this article on 24 signs.
A lot of HSPs, I feel are misunderstood, when in fact we all have very unique gifts. For example, some may be very empathetic, creative, compassionate or very self-aware of their surroundings. I am the latter - very self-aware and can pick up on other's emotions by their energy. I can also be very compassionate to the point I have to avoid certain channels or adverts such as animal abuse, because I get a very strong reaction - a hurtful one.
Being a HSP can be very challenging, lonely, and we may often isolate ourselves at times. I mostly resonate with the fact of needing to spend time alone to "solutide calms your overactive senses". Whilst some people love social situations and just generally being around people, I love my alone time, and cannot be without it.
Another example is stress, (something we all can relate to) as a HSP this can mean being extra sensitive to hard deadlines and time pressure, if not managed properly.
Does any of this ring true to you?
Could you be one of the many out of the 20% population?
I remember the days working at Citigroup, I used to really struggle being a highly sensitive person, however don't get me wrong I was always very good at my job and if anything my creative side would always do me well, BUT I struggled with large groups of people and busy surroundings. I had no idea what was wrong with me, and I would especially pick up on people's moods and opinions. As a result, I felt very overwhelmed. Some days I would want to cry (some days I did) without any reason. I just could not put my finger on what was wrong.
Back in those days, I was working with at least 100+ people in the department - Yikes! That's a lot of energy and different moods to deal with! LOL! By the time I got home, I was desperate for my alone time, just to feel calm and to get out of my busy head.
Being a heart-centered Virtual PA in the Wellness industry and having studied counselling and emotional intelligance myself, it's been truly amazing what I have come to learn as a HSP and the implications it can have running a business.
5 Tips To Thrive In Business As A Highly Sensitive.
First thing to do is to explore your positives, and the not so positives. You will want to know what works for you in order to feel your absolute best!
1) Learn to see what you have is a gift, not a flaw.
Being a HSP means that we are in-tune with the feelings and surroundings of others. When you really think about it, this is a HUGE strength in business, one that works very well with relationship building. We're also known for being highly creative, which again is another amazing quality! Read this article on the 8 reasons being highly sensitive is a gift in disguise.
2) Take extra care of your time and energy management.
Highly sensitive people absorb other's emotions and energy, which can often feel heightened by negative situations or specific clients and coworkers. They'll be times where we have little control over situations, however knowing what affects us gives the ability to plan and prepare for it. For instance, if I go networking, I know I have to clear my diary for the entire day - being around a large group of people tends to tire me out, sometimes I'm wiped out the next day too. Time Management: Always ensure you block out regular breaks during your busy day to avoid feeling overwhelmed and allow sufficient time ahead of tasks to digest things properly.
3) Set strict boundaries.
I hear this one A LOT. Sometimes setting boundaries can be as small as putting on a daily out of office for clients to see, this removes overwhelm and feelings of guilt when you're unable to get to something right away. How many times have you said yes to things when really you wanted to say "No"? As deep thinkers, it's important for us to find the right balance and the ability to push back. Someone once told me to practise how I say "No", so instead try replying with something like "I would love to, but unfortunately I cannot do xyz right now, however..." then offer another solution. I found this very effective.
4) Revisit your ideal client avatar.
If you're struggling, it might time to revisit your client avatar. Remind yourself of the type of client you want to work with, and the ones that you don't. Stay away from one's that are very negative and ones that can't respect your boundaries. The advantage to running your own business is that you get to choose who you work with.
5) Get support
Join support groups to discuss and learn from other HSP's. One's that I'm currently joined to are; Introvert's Corner (run by Joanna Rawbone), Calmpreneur (run by Suzannah Butcher), Winning Women Essex (run by Rosemary Cunningham), Stress Coach as well as the Eileen Burns business page (run by Eileen Burns who specialises in self-care for empaths and highly sensitives) and finally the Highly Sensitive People Facebook group. All very supportive groups.
I hope this has been helpful. You're not alone!
Let's get you THRIVING!
If at any point, you're looking for a heart-centred Virtual Assistant to help remove some (if not all) of that business overwhelm, I specialise in social media management, email marketing and PA business planning. I work with Wellbeing Coaches, Therapists and Speakers. Follow me over on my Facebook page.
Thank you for reading.