Compliments of Internet Book Archive via Flickr

Compliments of Internet Book Archive via Flickr

Last year, hiring mismatch cost more than double the amount of departing employees’ salary. Given the high stakes, monetary expenditure, time and workplace disruption, having a crystal ball in the specter of selection might seem beneficial. Greenberg suggests that because of their sensitivity, HSPs, or high sensitive persons, “can actually be mined as a secret weapon for business.” They compromise 15 – 20% of the population, approximately 70% of whom are introverts.

In recent scientific inquiry HSPs were found to have brains more active in areas responsible for high-order social processing – and those areas responsible for discerning minute changes in their environment. HSPs rely on deep processing as opposed to knee jerk reaction. They possess what’s known as sensory processing sensitivity (SPS). Greenberg urges employers to “learn how to tap it, bottle it, sell it.”

Potential recruits paraded past management for a short time come with myriad clues – most of which remain undetected by the masses. HSPs, like corporate sleuths, carefully look for tell-tale signs, meticulously assembling the facts. While others express their thoughts with hummingbird rapidity SPSs lay low, piecing together a puzzle from seemingly disconnected details.

When they do speak their insights are surprising. Before these individuals, interviewees stand bare. “Highly sensitive people probably make good counselors and recruiters…because of their attention to detail. They are able to more deeply process details as well as emotions, which are good skills in these professions.” To them, people are more of an open book.

SPS views are considered too avant-garde for people who lack intuition. While others are spouting their big mouths, HSPs make insights which ultimately may benefit the firm. Listen to them. You may avoid the siren song of wrong direction. In the area of selection these seeming deaf mutes can be some of your best defenses.

How to mine information from those who appear reluctant to share?

  • Be creative. Exxon Baytown engendered not only the best outcome from their diverse workforce, but at the same time allowed everyone an opportunity to speak. E.g., a Malaysian female engineer (who had difficulty with rapid fire give and take) now has the entire meeting to gather her thoughts, while at the same time providing a reflective viewpoint on what transpired.
  • Solicit their opinion in private, telling them beforehand what you wish to discuss. Their preparation and insight more than compensate for extra time outlay. Their reluctance to share publicly is overshadowed by their willingness to reveal privately. Sit back, let them do the talking, then soak it in. Consider acting on their suggestions.

On matters of subtle difference they are rarely mistaken.

Related posts:

Conducting meetings, the civil way

Hypersensitive persons and employment


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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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