Friday, October 15, 2004

Making Work Work (Jaeger)

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
President, Paradigms & Paradoxes Corporation

MAKING WORK WORK for the Highly Sensitive Person
By Barrie Jaeger, Ph.D.
The McGraw-Hill Companies

One of our strong cultural orientation, but definitely not a strength, is our sense of personalism. This attitude makes us sense things through the senses and emotions, feel deeply and connect emphatically with others. The boundaries between individuals and the environment are frequently blurred. This is where a lot of conflict at work begins.

Dr. Jaeger describes a highly sensitive person as having a heightened awareness of the environment, thereby, picking up more subtle details, information, and stimulation with great intensity that impacts one’s perception of self. It means taking things too personally, that you worry so much or give importance to the slightest change in language or gesture.

Dr. Jaeger suggests taking this Workplace Sensitivity Test (developed by Stephanie T. Machell, Psy.D, Catherine Post, CSW and Dr. Jaeger) that covers many areas we are most likely to be highly sensitive at work. As you look at the items, work experiences may come to mind, or not.

The scoring is visual, so you do not have to give yourself an absolute number. Take it at a time of quiet and reflection. There is no perfect answer. This is an opportunity to know yourself and look at the bigger picture of how you experience work as a Sensitive Person. You may want to take this test again at different stages of your life.

Scoring: Low (0), Medium (5) and high (10).

 I often accommodate the needs of others at the expense of my own
 I am often tempted to withdraw or actually do withdraw rather than deal with conflict
 I have been told that I can be overwhelming to others
 I feel out-of-synch with the prevailing cultural norms
 I have been made uncomfortable or even unwell by environmental conditions that don’t seem to affect others
 I have been told I’m too intense
 I have been told I’m too serious
 I continue to process experiences long after they’re over
 At times, I take on more than I can realistically do because everything sounds so interesting.
 I need more sleep than most people
 Having a busy schedule or too many days overwhelms me, even if I enjoy all that I am doing and want to do it
 I can see all sides of an issue, not just the one I prefer/agree with
 I notice small changes in others and my environment
 I become readily absorbed in what I am doing
 If you ask me for 50 different uses for a break I could give 75
 I find it hard to walk away from things
 I have strong attachment to people, places, things
 My mind goes blank when I’m caught on the spot
 I am deeply disturbed by others insensitivities
 I find it hard to do things that don’t interest me
 I cry when I’m angry/overwhelmed more easily than others
 I need time alone
 Sometimes I feel like a raw exposed nerve
 I’m afraid of infringing on other’s rights if I asked for mine
 I am excessively aware of others feelings
 I need work congruent with my values
 I have a bizarre sense of humor
 I am good at calming and pressuring others
 I pick up the feelings others don’t acknowledge having
 Others’ moods—and even their presence—affects me
 I sometimes feel irritable/overwhelmed around others without knowing why

In subsequent chapters, Dr. Jaeger offers Checklists for Drudgery and Craft and suggests ways of dealing with our sensitivity and take time to heal.
• Pay attention to subtle shifts that tell us it is time to bring down the stimulation
• Manage your stress. Don’t ignore your feelings, define them. What do you need to feel a little happy?
• Build and use skills of depth processing, self-awareness, personal discoveries, building long-lasting relationships with others. Stop comparing yourself to others. Stay at the moment and stop trying to keep pace with life.
• Use humor to help you unwind, relax and heal.
• Recognize what isn’t working for you and move toward what does. Find work that stimulates you, where you could learn new skills, poses reasonable challenges and provides a decent income.
• Communicate with others without feeling vulnerable, too open and exposed and let others see you a little more clearly

This is where HR could help their high performing, high potential employees avoid being derailed by their over sensitivity. I also would like to recommend the other books whose covers are on this page.
 How to Work for an Idiot: survive and thrive without killing your boss by John Hoover (Career Press)
 Enlightened Office Politics: understanding, coping with and winning the game—without losing your soul by Michael Dobson and Deborah Dobson (AMACOM)
 Cultural Intelligence: people skills for global business by David Thomas and Kerr Inkson (Berrett-Koehler Publishers)
 Managing Effectively consisting of four handbooks: The New Management Handbook, How to Motivate Every Employee, Leadership When the Heat’s On and Dealing with Difficult People (The McGraw-Hill Companies)

No comments: