In Practice

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5 Strengths of Highly Sensitive People

What are highly sensitive people good at?

Being a Highly Sensive Person can sometimes feel like a curse, but there are some ways it can also lead to interpersonal strengths.

Five strengths Highly Sensitive People may have: (Not every HSP will have these strengths, but a highly sensitive nature can contribute to these).

1. Conveying genuine passion for a topic.

Highly Sensitive People tend to have a hard time faking interest or passion in a topic. When other people would just fake it for the sake of appearances or getting along with others, HSPs may have a harder time doing this. For example, they may come across as flat or monotone if giving a talk about a topic they're not passionate about.  

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Their internal sense that something doesn't feel meaningful to them can feel like a siren going off that's difficult for them to silence or filter out. Scenario: If the person's whole family is mad about soccer but they're not, they will likely have difficulty quieting their internal sense that the topic feels meaningless to them.

On the flipside, when Highly Sensitive People are genuinely passionate about a topic, they may seem almost bursting with that passion.  They're often great at expressing genuine passion.

2.  Having deep and meaningful conversations.

Small talk can set off the highly sensitive person's "this feels meaningless" siren. As I mentioned above, they will typically have a hard time ignoring this once it's switched on.

Highly sensitive people may feel more comfortable talking about deep and meaningful topics than fluffy topics like movies or plans for the weekend.

They can be a great "go to" friend or colleague when you need to have a chat about something important.  

3. Reflecting on conversations or problems that need solving.

Highly sensitive people will often go away and ponder an issue following a conversation. They're not "out of sight, out of mind" types of people and will keep cognitively working on solving problems and coming up with ideas if a conversation hasn't completely resolved a question.

Since it's difficult for HSPs to filter memories of parts of a conversation that might be bothering them, this can cause issues with rumination. However, the flipside is that they will keep thinking about issues that need to be worked on, and will often come up with additional ideas.

4. Caring.

Highly Sensitive People tend to be very good at genuine caring. As above, if a loved one or colleague has been talking about a problem they're having, the HSP will often go away and think about the person and their problem rather than just walking away, forgetting about it, and getting on with their own life.

5. Being an interviewer.

Highly Sensitive People often make good interviewers because of their strong urge to understand and make sense of things, and their general preference of substance over fluff.

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Alice Boyes, Ph.D. translates principles from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and social psychology into tips people can use in their everyday lives.

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