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Nothing is so contagious as example.La Rochefoucault

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Rehabilitating sensitivity within the company

Rehabilitating sensitivity within the company

A high level of sensitivity is rarely well regarded in the workplace. Yet this way of operating has numerous advantages. How can we give highly sensitive persons the room they require?


Sensitivity generally gets a bad press in Western companies. We expect a leader to make decisions in a rational manner, without hesitation or qualms; to know how to face disagreements without fear of conflict or aggression; to remain steadily dynamic even when confronted with setbacks. Any show of emotions is looked at with distrust, as a weakness that should be hidden and, in time, learned to be left behind. This is a cultural marker: although it is oft decried in the United States or in Europe, high sensitivity is prized in places such as India or Thailand, among others.

This distrust often translates into the sidelining of the more sensitive personalities: they may be seen as being less credible, fail to be considered for positions of responsibility, or even give up entirely on the idea of a career in business. However, psychology researcher Elaine Aron has shown that approximately 15 to 20% of the population is characterized by particularly sensitive cerebral functions, which take into both broader and more intense account all available stimuli. These people distinguish themselves through a richer and finer perception of their environment, but also through an exacerbated, and more or less controlled, emotionality.

This operating mode presents many advantages. Elaine Aron illustrates this with famous pairs featuring a daring warrior king whose success owes much to being associated with a highly sensitive advisor, who has the ability to more subtly perceive and analyze the environment. Thus, organizations have everything to gain by making more—and better—room for highly sensitive persons. Their increased awareness of simultaneous signals is invaluable to the proper understanding of a complex environment as well as to anticipating its evolutions. Sensitivity to the feelings of others is a significant asset in making choices that can harness the energy required for successful change. But those who are often described as being hypersensitive require a sufficiently comforting framework to express themselves fully. How can we create the conditions that allow this particular form of information perception and processing to deliver its full potential within the workplace?

In this synopsis:
– Better understanding the functioning of highly sensitive persons
– Encouraging the inclusion of highly sensitive persons in your teams
– Managing your sensitivity

Synopsis n.304a