The HSP in Coaching
For a coach, working with an HSP can be a challenging.
Since the HSP is so tuned into the people, he or she will keenly feel the expectations of the coach. Then it is likely that the HSP person will fear disappointing, or not living up to expectations. This basic sense of social insecurity can hamper working together. It is important for coaches to remember to create a climate of acceptance, warmth and a non judgmental attitude, if they are to work effectively with an HSP.
Also, HSPs may avoid getting into their real feelings simply because they are too pained or the environment feels threatening. For coaches, it is important to make the coachee (client) feel safe and encourage and support the coachee’s feelings and validate them. If an HSP doesn’t feel supported or validated, he or she is not likely to work with the coach to achieve goals.
HSPs are keenly sensitive to words, gestures and expressions. The coach will need to be very aware of their own words, their own feelings and attitudes and how they are impacting the HSP coachee. Basically, an HSP coachee will demand from the coach, a higher self awareness.
HSPs can be avoidant, avoiding difficult issues, conflict, confrontations and so on. They may prefer to stay open, and in the exploration phase and not get to the decision making phase. With their remarkable imaginations they have a tendency to distorting reality. Coaches need to understand this, not judge them for it. At the same time it is important that coaches make clear psychological contracts with the HSP coachee about what it is that is expected, what is going to be achieved. Contracts and clear boundaries will help an HSP person to keep from avoiding the difficult aspects of growth.
Open, congruent and respectful communication is essential to working with the HSP. Any feedback (often seen as criticism) will have to be given with sensitiveness and only after a basic trust has been built. Trust is a very important aspect of working with an HSP. The coaches own integrity is paramount. The coach must be seen as one who ‘walks the talk’.
Most HSPs could use a lot more ‘grounding’. Coaches can encourage HSPs to be physically active, to take up sports or yoga. This helps them stay more engaged, connected, grounded and less fearful.
HSP as Coach
The HPS person as a coach is an empathetic coach. He or she is able to resonate with the feelings of the coachee. Coachees often feel deeply understood and cared for by an HSP coach. They are able to build trust with the coachee, which is the essential for change to take place within a helping relationship context.
HSP coaches tend to focus a lot on the potential of the coachee. They tend to look for ways to bring about transformation and deep shifts. They may need to apply themselves to paying the same kind of attention to the more visible aspects of the coachee such as behaviors, skills etc.
Since HSPs expect a lot from themselves, they may often wonder or doubt if they are being helpful enough, adequate enough, or wonder about the impact they are having.
Since HSPs themselves are very sensitive to sensory stimuli, they need to be constantly aware of the impact the words and expressions of the coachee, and how these might be triggers to them. For the same reason, HSP coaches are also prone to carrying these feelings and impressions for some time and sometimes they might cause them to feel burdened and stressed. HSP coaches need to frequently ground themselves with physical or engaging activity and de-toxify their emotions.
HSP coaches are usually kind and find it difficult to be ‘tough’ when coaching contracts are not fulfilled or deadlines are not met. They need to apply themselves to confront, often challenge coachees, if need be, however painful that might be, to help them make the shift towards self realization and achieving their goals.
So you could be on either side. As a coach, or as coachee, the questions is :
…. are you an HSP?
References and Bibliography:
Aron, E.N. (2006). "The Clinical Implications of Jungs Concept of Sensitiveness". Journal of Jungian Theory and Practice 8: 11–43.
Jung, C. (1913). 'The theory of psychoanalysis'. CW 4.
______ (1916). 'Psychoanalysis and neurosis'. CW 4.
Aron, E., Aron A., and Jagiellowicz, J. (2012) Sensory processing sensitivity: A review in the light of the evolution of biological responsivity. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 16, 262-282. .
Aron, Elaine and Aron, Arthur. 1997. Sensory-Processing Sensitivity and its Relation to Introversion and Emotionality, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Aug. 1997 Vol. 73, No. 2, pp. 345
Aron, E. N., Aron, A., & Davies, K. (2005). Adult shyness: The interaction of temperamental sensitivity and an adverse childhood environment. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 31, 181-197.
Aron, Elaine. 1996. The Highly Sensitive Person, ISBN 0-553-06218-2.
Bhavini Shrivastava. "Predictors of work performance for employees with sensory processing sensitivity" September 2011, MSc Organizational Psychology, City University, London, Department of social sciences, Psychology
www.Sensitiveperson.com Attributes and Characteristics of Being Highly Sensitive by Thomas Eldridge
www.junginstitute.org - JungV8N2p11-44.pdf