Can you pick up on who’s a highly sensitive person without asking if they are? Is there a way to tell if someone is HSP or not without administering the self-test? Why do I care?
It’s a game a play with myself. I’ve been doing it my whole life without knowing I was doing it and even before I knew what being highly sensitive was.
The game consists of answering one question: could I be friends with that person? The answer usually comes suddenly without much thought after being around someone for a while or listening to them talk about their life or reading about them. Or reading their work or listening to their music. The highly sensitive people are the ones I’m sure I could be friends. In other words I could be my weird self with them instead of the kind of closed off, distant, self-protective person I am with people I know ain’t sensitive.
It’s all intuition and based on a feeling you get about someone. Elaine Aron wrote about this in an article titled How Do You Recognize an HSP? She susses out HSP in a similar way:
I think I can sense an HSP just by being around him or her for a few minutes. Sometimes I imagine I can spot them in a line. But I have a lot of practice. The trouble is, I don’t know exactly how I do it, or even how accurate I am. There’s a look in the eyes, sometimes a certain posture and certainly differences in how they express themselves over a few minutes.
Aron recommends applying the DOES guide to make it easier to figure out who is highly sensitive, especially in the workplace:
D is for Depth of processing
O is for easily Overstimulated
E is for Emotionally reactive
S is for Sensitive to Subtle Stimuli
The words that describe a highly sensitive person and their behavior and attitude are similar — deeper, more, longer, over , stronger.
One of the points Aron made that I think is so important is that highly sensitive people will feel things before other people: “Does he or she become angry, curious, sad, anxious, or joyful sooner than others?” and that the quickest way to spot a highly sensitive person is to ask them how they feel about something. HSP will always have an answer. A very detailed answer.
There are two other ways you can tell if someone is highly sensitive. One is that they seek or determine the truth by how they feel. Facts are part of it, but only a part. I feel around for the truth in my body.
The other way to figure out if someone is highly sensitive depends on the highly sensitive person doing the figuring. Most of the time I figure it out based on how my sensitivity shows up in my life or how I’ve experienced and dealt with being sensitive and I can see that same sensitivity showing up in someone else’s life, words, actions in the same way. My sensitivity is responding to someone else’s sensitivity.
It happens a lot with famous or well-known people. I’ve made a list of people I believe are highly sensitive. This is merely the opinion of my sensitivity:
1. David Foster Wallace
2. Philip Seymour Hoffman
3. J.D. Salinger
4. Harper Lee
5. Jodie Foster
6. Keanu Reeves
7. Joaquin Phoenix
8. Kristen Stewart
9. Shia LaBeouf
10. Mel Gibson
11. Illustrator Gemma Correll. I read this tweet by her and my HSP-sense went off:
Your HSP-sense probably picks up on the sensitivity of a different list of people depending on how you experience sensitivity and well, because everyone is different. No two people experience or see the world and people in the same way.
Can you spot a fellow HSP? Any other well-known HSP to add to the list?