Musings on HSP Personality

Always being different.

I’d like to mention a couple of things.

One is Meyers Briggs personality types. I, for example, am a primary INTP. You will have to look up what that means if you are not familiar with it.

The other thing I want to mention is something I bet you have never heard of.  It’s called HSP, or Highly Sensitive Person. It doesn’t mean sensitive in terms of having thin skin versus thick skin, or a sissified narcissist, or anything like that, which is the first thing the term conjure sin the mind. Instead it has to do with the way the brain works. It means absorbing a lot of information all at once,  not being able to process it.  It has to do with filtering of sensory data, and parallel processing of it.

This has some implications for HSP characteristics.

For examples, it is said of HSP’s they feeling more deeply that most.  The think more deeply than most. It doesnt mean they are smarter. It means they process the meaning of things in a different way.

In conversations HSP’s always have the comeback the next day, never on the tip of their tongue.

So people think they have no wits. The next day, if the HSP mentions the comeback, it goes flat,  the other person doesn’t even remember, and is puzzled as to “why are you still thinking about that.” Well, the reason is, the HSP has been thinking about it all along. The answer wasn’t reached until now.

As an HSP I can go to a dance, say “Hi” to a few people, and in 15 minutes I am completely overwhelmed and have to leave. That is because I absorb all the conversations around me. I leave, go to a quiet dark place, and replay what I just experienced in my head, sifting through it. Thinking about it, rolling it over like a stone in my mind.  Dances are not only not fun, they are painful. I hate busy places with loud music. Most people think its great fun to get drunk and seek loud stimulating environments.  I don’t get it as to why that is fun.

My wife and I periodically go to norwegian conventions.  These are social events and seminars. After three days I am completely exhausted and I don’t recover for a month.  It is sensory overload. I think through everything everybody said to me over that three days.

This sometimes affects the sociology of the workplace.

In meetings I am usually quiet. After a meeting I initiate one on one conversations with people who were in the meeting. Sometimes they complain I should have brought things up in the meeting.  But to me that would mean making the meeting into a furball.  TO BE AVOIDED AT ALL  COSTS.  Because it causes overload. Besides, my brain processed the discussion AFTERWARD not during.

A furball also means others become assertive and loud.  I’ve noticed that the loudest person in the room wins.  Or they think they do.  

This ‘not wanting to compete in a fishbowl shouting  meeting’  is sort of career limiting, at least in the software industry.   I’ve noticed that the person who may be most authoritative but is quieter simply gets ignored by  engineers who are butting heads and being loud.  So it turns out that the best teams are the ones who have a strong leader who has a vision and imposes that vision regardless of the shouting. This model is sort of military in style.

Well, that’s my lame attempt at sociology.  I think most engineers are ingrown sociopaths whose purpose in life is to never cooperate with others.  😉

Part of and HSP’s problem has to do with scope; the scope of the ideas being discussed. And their implications. An HSP tends to see two or three hills over the horizon because of what they are thinking about. Whereas others are looking only at the local hill.

For me this means others dont know what I am talking about half the time.  Thinkers do. But non thinkers don’t.   For me this latter might be more the INTP characteristic than the HSP part, or it may be a combination. The result sometimes is a form of social isolation. I can be very lonely in a huge crowd.


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