Making Work Work for HSP by Barrie S. Jaeger

Nov 17, 2008 by

How can you turn your work into calling?

Yes, this book is targeted to help certain category of people, which is called the Highly Sensitive Person, or referred as HSP. Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D. has written another book that describes fully on the definition. On the contrary, this book shares the perspective of working to the HSP.

What does HSP need from work?

Elaine Aron shared that HSP only takes about 15-20% of the whole community. It’s a minority, and no wonder HSP are misunderstood a lot of times. When I’m reading the book, there is a sense that I’m one of them. The book really explains a lot of my behaviors, and it’s really helpful for self-love.

You may not be one of HSP, but I hope that reading my review and summary of this book will give you an insight on how you can look at your job, and getting the most out of it.

First of all, I’d like to share that a job is not only a job for HSP. They are looking for more than that. They are looking for meaning.

I found that it’s very true in my life as well. I want everything that I do is meaningful, some significance to the bigger picture. And what does HSP hate the most? The menial tasks. Coming down to it, there are 3 phases of working that Barrie shared, the Drudgery, Craft, and Calling…

  • Drudgery is the point where you do your work grudgingly, a lot of menial tasks, repetition, without any sense of accomplishment, and fear of getting stuck to the job forever.
  • Craft is the confidence builder, where you enjoy, you’re challenged by what you do, but you simply will not call it your life calling and purpose.
  • Calling is really where you see yourself doing what you love. It’s of course the ideal that we all want, where you get the money from the things you like. Your work is your passion and your passion is your work.

And the only reason why you should continue reading the book is only if you want to move from the Drudgery into Calling. One very important keyword to achieve them is “GROW“! Only when we are growing, then we can get closer to our calling. There are lots of insights that the book shared, but I wanted to focus on some of them only, taking certain insightful quotes from the book.

running with the seagulls
Creative Commons License photo credit: eschipul

Steps to go towards your calling:

1. Stress management

The HSP has to deal with stress better. Sensitivity caused us to be affected by external circumstances often. If we don’t manage them, we will feel intense, pressurized and stressed.

Hence, it’s important for HSP to simplify their life and do more self-care, as what being shared…

Keeping calm is not about controlling external conditions. It’s about being aware of what overwhelms us and how close we are to being upset. The more diligent we are in self-care, the better manager we’ll be and the less controlling.
~Barrie S. Jaeger (Making Work Work)

We may not always be able to control things outside of us, but we can always control things inside of us.

2. Visibility management

The process of being visible means accepting yourself. If you don’t believe that anything about yourself is good and valuable, you cannot give that level of quality to others. To give, you must believe you are of quality. It means being more true to yourself, and trusting your instincts, judgment, gifts, and self-worth.
~Barrie S. Jaeger (Making Work Work)

The next one is really a challenging one. You choose, being visible or feeling lousy about our sensitivity. As the quote above shared, to give, we really need to like ourselves, and part of it, is really to let them visible.

The real challenge comes in saying what you think and feel from a place of peacefulness about yourself. That’s powerful. This is the heart of being visible. The result is a change that lets you feel freer to be yourself.
~Barrie S. Jaeger (Making Work Work)

That’s the challenge. We really need to come from the place of peacefulness, not frustration.

Remember, being visible means you choose to provide others with quality information about yourself. You can give them as little or as much as you want, at your own pace, and in your own time.
~Barrie S. Jaeger (Making Work Work)

Barrie doesn’t call it visibility management. I call it that way because it’s really important to manage how visible we need to be. Totally visible is naive, yet totally hidden will not solve anything.

And visibility must come with a purpose, if you are trying to persuade with your visibility, you will certainly need to apply some points on persuasion. For example, “How will that works better for the company/organization I am working for?”

Visibility is about providing quality information about you. Not all, but enough to achieve your purpose.

People understand medical conditions but not emotional conditions. For an HSP employee, the main thing is to understand what your limitations are and to be willing to put yourself out there and tell your supervisor what your limitations are.
~Diana (an HSP Boss)

3. Curiosity management

curious roy
Creative Commons License photo credit: fazen

Not all, but some HSPs are high sensation seekers. They look forward to know and experience many things, curious about things, and having problem with focus. If you got the same problem, do remember this quote…

We have to keep in mind that what really satisfies us (and keeps the cat alive and purring) is not curiosity, but interests that match not only our abilities, but have meaning as well.
~Barrie S. Jaeger (Making Work Work)

Visibility is really about loving yourselves, part of the “seed” stage of our growth. But the “sprout” stage is really about making boundaries.

The better we are at managing our boundaries and taking better care of ourselves, the greater our chances of staying away from Drudgery and moving into Craft and Calling.
~Barrie S. Jaeger (Making Work Work)

If you really want to grow from Drudgery into Calling, then we need to grow, and to grow we need boundaries. If you want to get more insights on boundary, check out the book Changes That Heals, and the articles I have written, inspired by that book.

4. Career management

On the question whether to pursue talent or passion, Barrie shared that often our interests come and go too easily and it’s important to add another point to the equation, and that is value!

Traditional career counselling techniques which emphasize matching clients’ abilities and interests with job characteristics may be of little use to the young gifted adult. Instead, an approach based on identifying the most deeply held values, and planning life goals which actualize those values, may be the treatment of choice. Career development then becomes the search for meaning rather than the search for job.
~Dr. Barbara Kerr

This might be also the reasons why HSP pretty unstable in one job, and finding themselves hopping between jobs often. HSPs are talented, and it’s important to see why and how we can control them.

Barrie is also proposing self-employment, an alternative path where he sees a lot of HSP are more content with…

We are often original, complex, and talented, and can handle blending several different talents together in unconventional ways. But you may have to out on your own to do this, since finding a job where you can apply several skills may require considerable patience in the search, and strong social skills to cultivate a situation to your liking.
~Barrie S. Jaeger (Making Work Work)

It’s true in a way, but you simply can’t jump and quit your job because of you’re an HSP. You really have to think and be prepared in many ways. For example, have you prepared to face these 5 challenges to be an entrepreneur as shared by Jun Loayza?

It can be a step closer to our calling, but as I have emphasized in the beginning, we have to grow to handle our calling. We need to be discipline in our growth, and keep the eyes always on the lookout for the rewards…

In saying yes to our calls, we bring flesh to word and form to faith. We bring substance to dreams, to passions, and to the ancient urgencies. We ground ourselves in life and bring ourselves into being as alchemists and magicians in their finest hours.
~Gregg Levoy (Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life)

Should you read the book?

Reading the book, I somehow identified myself with the characteristic of a Highly Sensitive Person. I see another perspective, encouraging perspective on the behaviors I did at work. I will recommend this book if you have a feeling that you’re a sensitive person, and especially if you feel dissatisfied with your job.

The book will be much better if there is not so much repetition of points given. It can be made much more compact and help us to get the message better.

Yet, in overall, the book in a way gives you awareness of yourself and the nature of a calling. It gives you encouragement to grow and pursue your calling, together with some steps you need to pursue them. The points described here are only some of them.

Wish you the best,

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  1. Thanks for the mention! You covered 4 great points here. Stress, visibility, curiosity, and career management, all things that I am currently trying to manage myself. I’m definitely going to check out the book.

    – Jun

    Jun Loayzas last blog post..Future Delivery TV: Episode 8 – Blogs/Economy’s effect on startups

  2. Robert, I am sure that the book will be very interesting to peruse. My problem if anything, is that I am accused often of being completely insensitive!

    rummusers last blog post..Movie Scenes That Have Stayed With Me.

  3. Interesting that you chose to profile this book about the Highly Sensitive Person at work. I’ve just come across this term (HSP) and am really interested in reading Dr. Aron’s first book about HSPs. Thanks for passing along this information!

    Amanda Linehans last blog post..Letting Go Of Others; Give The Same Space You Would Want

  4. Robert A.

    @Jun, you’re welcome. You got an interesting and honest look about challenges in entrepreneurship.
    @Rummy, lol, then you may want to balance with a bit of sensitivity =).
    Sometimes we are insensitive because of lack of knowledge. HSP represents more of a complex inner life, lots of reflecting and pondering before we make actions. See whether you’re insensitive because of knowledge or personality.
    @Amanda, thanks, I’m reading the first book half way. Planning to read it back again.

    Thanks for stopping by and comment. I really appreciate them!

  5. In recent studies, the stress of work has been one of the major factors causing high level of stress and thus leading to many diseases. Work stress cannot be just reduced without understanding the underlying factors. We work more coz we need more money. Why do we need more money? coz that makes us look prestigious in society. Why is it that way? coz people with more money are given more respect. So here is the catch, we as a society do not have to give more respect to people just coz they have more money. Instead more respect should be given to people who are pious, well-mannered and of good character.


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