Being sensitive in the workplace & why we need to stop thinking of it as a bad thing.

being sensitive in the workplace

Being sensitive in the workplace & why we need to stop thinking of it as a bad thing.

As a woman in the workplace, I feel like it’s fair to say that most of my male peers and colleagues will have assumed I’m an emotional person. They would be right. I’m known for being kind, caring and - in the words of others - a bit soft.

I am very much about people, one of the things that has drawn me to my career in marketing. I am sure that many other women in both creative and non-creative roles would agree that their nature has a lot to do with their path and choices in the working world.

I've recently been the recipient of someone being rude and making me feel like my opinion was worthless, even after being in my role and industry for 6 years. After a very long day of discussion, presenting and decision-making, a conversation escalated. I got visibly upset about the situation and as usual, that was put down to me being sensitive, or being tired and stressed, all those words being used to justify what is seen as a ‘weak emotion’.

On reflection, and after talking it out with someone else, I realised that I wasn't being sensitive. I was affected by the words and the tone I received, and rightly so, it wasn’t appropriate.

We have wrongly been led to believe that strong emotions aren’t desired attributes for those in senior management positions.

It's true that in the cut-throat world of running a business that some decisions have to be made with the company first, however, what I think is often forgotten is that people do not buy from businesses, they buy from people.

They buy from the person who manages their account effectively. The person they have built a relationship with and put their trust in. Even when this comes to online shopping, we buy something because a person has styled the product a way we like or written content that prompts us to make a purchase.

Sensitivity is a pro, not a con

And here we come to the phrase; 'It's not personal.' Just like 'I'm not being funny..' or 'I'm not being racist but..', whatever follows that phrase is going to feel personal. And so it should be; any situation where a person is going to be affected, is personal.

Being sensitive is not a bad thing. It’s actually a preferable trait for a lot of individuals. Someone who is affected by things, good or bad, should be celebrated. Someone who is sensitive is also usually empathetic, understanding and dedicated; they care and any emotion shown when something doesn’t seem to be going right isn’t a weak attribute but rather a badge of honour to their commitment to that project having the right outcome.

Understanding how things can affect you personally as a sensitive person is a great way to inform how you communicate and act with other people; you become more aware of how you would respond to something and therefore think more carefully about how your actions and words can affect others.

In business, these can only be benefits in an ever-changing world where people are (and should be) the centre of our organisations. It is no longer acceptable to say what you want to people if it is offensive or discriminative and you have to respect your employees’ or colleagues’ opinions and reactions to comments of this nature.

Sensitive individuals in top positions and senior management can only be positive as the working world moves forward to ensure everyone is healthy and happy at work.

And to be clear, it's not just about being a woman, it's about being who you are, male or female. I've come to realise that I will no longer stifle who I am for fear of being seen as weak. Yes, I'm emotional, yes, I cry at things that others would find stupid and yes, I am not quick to discipline, but rather, to understand. I have never actually viewed these as negative points about myself but I have let other people question my ability to manage and lead because of them. No more.

Written by: Emma

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