working with highly sensitive people

the beautiful world of cubicles

This great article by HSP expert Elaine Aron explains how to identify HSPs in the workplace. I wish some of my former managers had been this forward-thinking! She recommends using the acronym DOES to sniff out an HSP. Check it out:
Depth of processing. Does this person often come up with unusual, creative ideas? Is this person unusually conscientious (aware of consequences of failing to do things well)? Does this person prefer to decide things slowly, mull things over? Are his or her decisions often right? You might also ask if this person has thought about the long term goals of their part of the organization, or why something did or didn’t work. If the person feels safe to comment honestly, and many HSPs will be cautious about this, you will probably hear a surprisingly long, detailed answer.

Easily Overstimulated. Have you noticed that this person is more easily stressed by noise, chaotic situations, deadlines, or working in groups (true more for introverted HSPs)? Seeks quiet spots? Prefers to work alone or at home? You might ask if the person would benefit from a quieter working environment or more flexible deadlines. Outside the workplace, does this person hesitate to make plans or turn down invitations? It could be because he or she just needs more downtime.

Emotionally reactive. Does this person react strongly to feedback, both positive and negative–perhaps over compensate and, for example, rewrite an entire report when only some of it needed changing? Has she or he ever cried in a meeting? Does this person have considerable empathy for others, or know more than most about other workers’ personal problems? Does this person, compared to others, worry more about how someone is reacting to a negative event, give more positive feedback, and generally attend to group morale? Does he or she become angry, curious, sad, anxious, or joyful sooner than others? You might also ask directly how they feel about something.

Sensitive to subtle stimuli. Does this person seem to notice things that others don’t? Does he or she arrange work spaces with special care, such as adjusting the lighting? Comment on others’ dress or small changes in the environment or weather? You might say you are looking for people who notice details, and for fun ask the person something like the color of the chairs in the meeting room.

It’s just so accurate!

View Dr. Aron’s original post here.