Can IT Managers Be Too Sensitive?

Sometime IT managers can be too sensitive
Sometime IT managers can be too sensitive
Image Credit: Julia Shashkina

As IT managers who are responsible for managing a team of diverse professions, we have been charged with finding ways to connect with our team. If you attend any IT manager training you will undoubtedly be told that you need to become more sensitive and do a better job of connecting with the members of your team. This is all good advice, but is it possible to be too sensitive?

Are You A Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)?

I’d like to think that all of us have some sensitivity. There are things that we encounter during an average day that we need to have feelings about in order to connect with the people on our team. However, it turns out that there are roughly 20% of us that are considered to be Highly Sensitive People (HSP). Note that HSP does not play any gender games: an equal number of both men and women are considered to be HSP.

A highly sensitive person is a person who when they have an experience, will respond more intensely to it than an average person will. What this means is that as a highly sensitive person receives both positive and negative information from their environment they will process it thoroughly. The end result of this is that it is very easy for this type of IT manager to become overwhelmed by all of the stimuli that they are receiving.

An IT manager who is a HSP will always be very aware of sensations. These can come from their sense of taste, sound, touch, or even smell. This is especially seen when it comes to both their emotions and the emotions of others. HSP is not considered to be a personality disorder. Rather, it’s thought of as an innate personality trait that is a permanent part of the IT manager who has it.

How To Deal With Too Much Sensitivity

In all honesty, I don’t think that any of us want to be known as the IT manager who breaks down and cries in meetings. What that means is that those of us who could be classified as being HSP need to develop some coping tactics that will allow us to deal with everything that the real world throws at us.

People who are HSP have been found to have a deeper depth of cognitive processing, have the ability to have bigger emotional responses to events, and have the ability to notice subtleties better than other IT managers do. The first thing that HSPs need to understand is that it is very easy to become overwhelmed with too much sensory input. When this happens, they need to withdraw from social interaction in order to give their system time to recover.

HSPs need to find ways to remove the human factor from situations that they find themselves in. Effectively, they need to learn to modulate their feelings. HSPs also have to realize that not everyone is going to react to the same sensory inputs as they will. They need to learn to accept these differences. HSPs also have to work with their team and get everyone to understand that at times they may need to call an emotional “timeout” so that they can take a break in order to recover if they start to feel overwhelmed.

What All Of This Means For You

IT managers who want to do a good job of IT team building need to learn how to express their emotions in a way that their team will be able to see. However, it turns out that 1 out of 5 IT managers may be a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) and may feel emotions more strongly than everyone else does.

If you are a HSP, you need to realize this in order to learn to deal with it. You don’t want to be the person who breaks down into tears every time someone announces that they’ll be leaving your team. Instead, you need to develop coping skills. These skills include understanding that not everyone will feel the way that you do and getting your team to understand that you may need time by yourself to recover from sensory overload.

Having the IT manager skills to really connect with your team at an emotional level is actually a very good thing. However, if your ability to feel what your team is feeling is just a little bit too good, then you may be a HSP. If this is the case, then you are going to have to develop the coping skills that you’ll need in order to deal with all of the real world events that every IT manager has to put up with.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: If you are a HSP, do you think that it is ever appropriate to cry at work?

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