Highly sensitive women in business

Emotionality has no gender. Emotions concern us all. From the point of view of the physiological process, we all experience similar reactions.
Why, then, in interpersonal relationships, women feel a significant difference in the intensity, quality and scope of experienced feelings?

I have the impression that femininity is a synonim for the complexity of beauty. Working with women of all ages, I can see that exploring the relationship with yourself and discovering new parts of yourself is an life endless journey for every woman.

In her book A tender guide Dr. Natalia De Barbaro describes 6 parts of femininity, which we can find in each one of us. 

Little Girl, Meek, Martyr (Affectionate), Snow Queen (Adult), Wild and Affectionate Guide. Each part is important and necessary. We differ significantly in our reactions – when, in what social situation, which part takes over our behavior. I see the guide as kind and intuitive; a person who will try to understand and take care of all our parts. 

In the process of discovering yourself while working with a psychologist, the most important thing is to get to know yourself, understand the genesis and source of your emotionality and consciously, strategically decide and take care of every facet of your femininity. Because they’re all good.

When I work with women on their relationships with themselves, we often support and build in them the character of the Tender Guide. The goal is to take care of yourself in the fullness of femininity – so that a woman can feel good about her emotionality without external psychological help.

Complex emotionality is undoubtedly a force, which we try to tame, manage it. Sometimes, the key to healthy well-being is letting go of control and learning to relax anew. Skills training and the development of emotional intelligence by being mindful of your own and others’ emotionality points you towards the right actions, that are in harmony with yourself. 

Reading and naming your emotions, interpreting them, deciding to express them or to keep them to yourself, setting clear boundaries, deciphering emotions in others, building emotional understanding at work – these are aspects of humanity and work in a diverse environment are more and more appreciated in business.

Delving into and developing a variety of emotional management strategies, depending on our social situation, allows us to consciously live in harmony with our emotions – and feel authentic and strong in our sensitivity with them – both at work and at home.

Business circles, globally and in Poland, offer more and more support to the trend of femininity – departing from empty slogans hidden in marketing. There’s increasing focus on positive motivation, appreciating the empathetic leadership of women, resigning from strict dress code, creating allegories of games and fun at work . Globally speaking, we are moving away from the stereotypes of work – toil, blood, sweat and tears. But what if they still live in our heads? What if our life baggage holds us in a narrative that we cannot break free from and allow ourselves to enjoy our work?

Without a doubt, religion and culture play a great role in the current generation of 30-50-year-old women – they are inscribed in the historical genotype of each of us. Unfortunately, for a long time, this internal code was not very favorable towards women’s empowerment in business …

Evolutionary speaking, women, due to their biological role as mothers, naturally used their emotional intelligence, empathy, communication and leadership skills, building community, cooperation and social interactions, by engaging in upbringing and closeness in relationships with children, creating a family.
Currently, on the labor market, these are the most valued skills necessary to build a well-coordinated and open team – people who trust each other and like to work together.

So what are the issues that women, naturally equipped with a powerful arsenal of highly valued skills bring to the psychologist’s office?
It turns out that the same traits so much appreciated in today’s world often turn against the „I” of women. Reflectiveness, multidimensionality of thinking and critical thinking, placing the good of the community above one’s own, high sensitivity – useful in solving substantive and social complex problems, developing creative concepts and taking care of teamwork.
On the other hand, in today’s intense VUCA world – a woman’s lack of proper „self-care” often results in high psychological costs, loss of stability – and thus acutely experienced suffering.

Every human being is different and unique. There is no 1: 1 repeatability in nature – as, for example, in a business process or in science. Even with an identical gene set – in monozygotic twins – there are differences in individual experiences, which „sculpt” temperamental traits and shape personality.
One of the interpersonal differences lies in environmental sensitivity – positive and negative.
This phenomenon is linked to sensory processing and was introduced by Dr.Elaine Aron (Highly sensitive).

Dr. Aron describes vulnerable people using 4 characteristics, DOES for short:


1) D-depth of processing;


Sensitive people are characterized by deeper processing of information. For example, getting a phone number and not being able to write it down, we need to process it – repeating a sequence of numbers, trying to find a relationship between them, give them meaning, noticing the relationship of the number with another known one, etc. Sensitive people process more cognitively – consciously (then the process is slower) or unconsciously (intuitively reaching a solution, with certainty of its correctness – without the possibility of verbalizing why).


2) O – overstimulation – easy to overstimulate;


High attention to detail in intense and complex social situations, where there is a lot of information to be processed, causes rapid overstimulation.
For example – a highly sensitive person in a business meeting of 10 people of different nationalities, conducted in English, in a new conference room, on a specific and substantive topic – will process in detail: emotions and cultural differences, the mood of each person, gestures, non-verbal communication, language and verbal nuances, voice intonation, grammatical structure of sentences, accents, colors and texture of clothes, space – devices, furniture, pictures – and the very essence of utterances.
The amount of stimuli and information to be processed is so high that, for a highly sensitive person, the perception of stress at a meeting like that will be higher, followed by fatigue afterwards and the need for immediate regeneration.


3) E – emotional reactivity and empathy;


Sensitive people experience feelings more intensely – both positive and negative. This means that their ability to draw from life is more developed – the experience of great joy, happiness by a sensitive person is stronger.
The same is true of disgust, anger, shame and fear, and stress. Emotions that make us feel worse – in emergency situations – cause sensations that are particularly difficult for a sensitive person.
This means that a sensitive person lives with a somewhat high amplitude of emotions – hence having difficulties to maintain so-called „emotional stability”, so much expected by the outside world.

Mirror neurons, allowing to better read the emotional states of others, are more active in highly sensitive people – which increases their empathy.

4) S – sensing the Subtle;


Highly sensitive people pay attention to details – while most people remember a human face in general, a highly sensitive person can accurately describe the eyes, nose, ears and skin.

As it is easy to imagine, highly sensitive women in business need specific conditions to make the most of their opportunities and benefit from the most desirable feature on the labor market – high emotional intelligence. Highly sensitive women often need training in taking care of themselves, setting boundaries, in order to be able to properly take care of themselves in business, while increasing their effectiveness.

Let us take care of ourselves Dear Ladies – let us be tender and kind to ourselves – just as we can be to others.

Let others understand us by calmly explaining what we feel and think. 

Let us be free in our beautiful emotionality – always accepting what we feel and choosing a strategy for what WE want to do personally.

Joanna Marszalska – business psychologist

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