Monthly Archives: December 2014

Highly Sensitive People


One of the great things about the internet is that we can build upon someone’s research by contributing our stories to their findings and increasing the richness of their discoveries.  This enabled Research Psychologist, Elaine Aron, Ph.D., to develop her work on identifying a particular type of individual who stands out among the rest, namely: Highly Sensitive Person (HSP).


What is an HSP?

Aron defines an HSP as part of the “Royal Advisor Class.”  They are much like spiritual and moral leaders of society, as they typically practice integrity and a desire to help othersHSP classic career choices tend to include academics, theologians, psychotherapists, consultants, and judges.  Below is a list of behavioral traits to help you recognize these qualities in yourself and/or others:

  • Reflective. There is a tendency to process the past more, and because of their deep thinking skills, they are often considered as offering an intense presence.
  • Intuitive. They know without really knowing how they know.  It is almost magical, since others do not see what an HSP sees.  There is a deep talent of awareness to what others miss or deny.
  • More Right-Brained. Less linear, more systemic (i.e. see the forest through the trees), more creative in a synthesizing way.
  • Individuation.  Father of Analytical Psychology Carl Jung describes “Individuation” as being able to hear your inner “voice(s)” through all the inner/outer noise.  It is a lifelong curiosity and engagement with being true to one’s self, and using “self-as-instrument.”
  • Non-Conformist. Do not like to play politics; and, their certainty may make them seem arrogant.  As systemic thinkers, they may enthusiastically suggest an idea that no one else seems to get, rendering the HSP to feel potentially misunderstood and alienated, because of their high degree of social awareness.
  • Risk-Takers. They may appear to be risk-takers, but not to them because they’ve already considered all of the viable outcomes; so the outcome is clear.
  • Concentration.  They can become lost in concentration, but they do better without distractions.
  • Spot Errors. Erroneous details are somehow quickly identified.  Any disruption to a pattern is obvious to them.
  • Double-Think. They often think about their own thinking patterns.
  • High Empathy. Impacted by and sensitive towards others’ feelings.
  • Deep Processors. It might seem at first that they are not catching on when learning a new process, but because of their need to understand all of the details before execution, they ultimately are much better at comprehending, remembering, and instructing others to what they have learned.
  • Strong Semantic Memory. They are able to process material, innocuous facts and details, at deeper levels – thus committing it to memory, often unintentionally.
  • Stimulant Sensitive. More easily affected by stimulants, such as caffeine, or external ones such as sound, light, smells, etc.
  • Complex. Most likely enjoy conversing about philosophy, feelings, and struggles.


HSP’s in the Workplace

Aron (page 236):

“Typically, HSP’s are highly conscientious, loyal, vigilant about quality, good with details, intuitive visionaries, often gifted, thoughtful of the needs of clients or costumers, and good influences on the social climate of the workplace.  In short, they are ideal employees.  HSPs tend to dislike aggressive self-promotion, hoping to be noticed for their honest hard work.  Do not allow this to cause you to overlook a valuable employee.  HSP’s may be the first to be bothered by an unhealthy situation in the workplace, which could make them seem like a source of trouble.  But others will be affected in time, so their sensitivity can help you avoid problems later.”


HSP’s are the ones poised to call out that the Emperor has no clothes; yet, they are usually savvy enough to know when to push and when to hold back.  This is a gift.  Giftedness is a deviation from the norm.  An HSP employee is definitely not a part of the norm.

Being “Abby” Normal is the new Black.

Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, nicknamed “Nostradamus” and “Ms. Memorex” by her colleagues, and the founder of Corporate Looking Glass, LLC – a diverse consultancy of OD experts and strategic thinking partners.  We increase retention.  Visit

© Rossina Gil, 2014


Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D.  The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You


When to Say “Merry Christmas”


In the United States, a country founded by Christian pilgrims, and where nearly 80% of the population considers itself Christian, it would seem rational that everyone would feel comfortable with the words “Merry Christmas.” However, most behavior is anything but rational.  [See blog The Rational Mind & the Emotional Mind].  The emotional response is to use the generic “Happy Holidays” in an effort to minimize differences.

Values drive a nation, an organization, and an individual.  This country continues to value Individualization, and, in the process, has gotten mixed up with condemning its historical origins – which is a fatal flaw in any organization.

Tailor Your Approach

One executive shared with me how he greeted his colleague in the workplace hallway with “Happy Holidays!”  It was his effort to be inclusive.  His colleague stopped him, and questioned, “Why do you wish me a ‘Happy Holiday’ when you know I’m Jewish?” (The question begs a “Happy Hanukkah!”).  The rationale implies: when you know someone is of a particular faith, you can tailor/adapt your approach to best suit that individual.  THAT is Individualization, a true American value.

Show the person you know who they are.  Customize.  One of the successful tips I have personally kept from my college job as hotel operator at Auberge du Soleil (Napa Valley, California) was that we kept a digitalized record of each guest’s preferences.  So, when they returned, we could yield to them what we know they preferred.  E.g. no flowers, extra bedding, use of title with name, etc.  Valued customers are remembered.

Tailoring your approach to an individual is called Situational and/or Servant Leadership.

Servant Leadership

Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu (6th Century BC) wrote, essentially, that a Servant Leader is one who shares power and puts the needs of others first.  His/Her role is to help people develop and perform to optimal levels.  Servant Leaders adapt their leadership style to the individual or group s/he is trying to influence and lead.  The key is finding what motivates – this is where we revert to values and historical origins.  Servant leadership is achieved on a one-by-one basis; not in a catch-call, cookie-cutter approach way, such as, telling everyone “Happy Holidays!”

May your days be merry and bright!


Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner who attends all festive parties, and is the founder of Corporate Looking Glass, LLC – a diverse consultancy of OD experts and strategic thinking partners.  We increase retention.  Visit

© Rossina Gil, 2014


Shock Value


The notorious “Potty-Mouth Princesses” have done it again.* [See viral Christmas video:].  What is startling for viewers to process is the juxtaposition of something so charming and sweet, such as these possibly aged 8-10-year old girls dressed in pink/white/purple as princesses, with something so vulgar as the coarse language they use to express their point, e.g. the “f-bombs,” which have them labeled as the “potty-mouth princesses.” These two behaviors are societally considered as polar opposites. This results in what is known as “shock value.”  Shock Value is an intentional action (verbal or non-verbal), which provokes massive public disgust (or other negative emotions).

Brilliantly produced with rhyme, facts, vivid colors, fast imagery, and humor, these social media darlings point out that if you viewers find something such as their language so revolting, then perhaps you may wish to consider appropriately placing your disgust where the REAL offense is; namely, that women are still not paid the same for equal work. In the video, Santa declares, “Women who get A’s are paid as much as guys who got C’s in class!”


System Alignment

Whenever an organization espouses values which do not match the organizational behavior, there is a disconnect, and performance is measurably and negatively impacted.  This is a well-documented cause for organizational failure [see Laurence Ackerman’s Identity Is Destiny: Leadership and the Roots of Value Creation].  Staying true to the organizational values and “walking the talk” has been what has made corporate giants such as Disney and Johnson & Johnson successful; while the lack of adherence to the professed values has brought other more propaganda-filled organizations to their knees with yearly lay-off’s and resignations.

If Corporate America truly is based on “meritocracy,” “equal opportunity,” and a fighting spirit / can-do attitude (exemplified with the Nike slogan, “Just do it!”) then, WHERE is the outrage?  Qualitative (observable) nor quantitative (numbers) data does not support the values we, as Corporate America, claim to have.  Frankly, it’s like the princesses call it: bullsh*t.

This is not authentic leadership.  Nor is it common business sense.  Adam Smith, the “father” of Capitalism, rolls in his grave.


Germany Seizes the Reins

It takes a “logical” nation to “Just do it.”  On 12.11.14, the Wall Street Journal released that Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel has passed a law that impacts more than 100 of their companies, by requiring them to have at least 30% women on their supervisory boards.  This is a historic milestone.

This is not a “do the ‘right thing’ argument;” it is a business case argument.  Research Center Catalyst reports that Fortune 500 companies with 3+ women on the Board outperform other companies with 53% more returns on equities, 42% more return on sales, and 66% more return invested capital.

And, anyone who knows Germans would not call them the fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants, emotionally compulsive type of people.  Broadly speaking, Germans, as a whole, operate by carefully calculating the risks involved, and they “say what they mean” and “mean what they say.”  Further, they desire continuity – they build products and establish relationships meant to last.  They are authentic.

Merkel is a leader who is poised to demonstrate to the world how Germany is a market economy.  The world is watching another “talent” revolution unfold.

Danke Schön, Bundeskanzlerin Merkel.


Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, a time-quality provider, and the founder of Corporate Looking Glass, LLC – a diverse consultancy of OD experts and strategic thinking partners.  We increase retention.  Visit

© Rossina Gil, 2014

*In collaboration with Synergy Media, is a for-profit T-shirt company with a team of passionate people whose mission is to create positive social change for basic humanity (i.e. race, gender, and marriage equality).  Their T-shirts act as “mini-billboards” for change, and a significant portion of your purchase goes directly towards LGBT charities. (I bought two T-shirts).


Old World Models

Bathroom 1

On my last flight, I revealed my bias.  I had presumed that because my flight attendant was a Gen-X woman, she would be partial towards my choice of labeling the woman-changing-the-infant icon as “sexist.”  Neutral language is “traditionalist.”  I knew better, and took a risk.

The flight attendant responded in offense, and to my double-surprise, said, “If we put an image of a man, then it would be sexist against men!

“Well,” I shared, “we could have an icon of an adult changing a child.  Some infants do not have mothers, or a female caregiver traveling with them, or they have two dads.”

Bathroom 2

The challenge here is to shift old world paradigms to reflect modern society (while being sensitive towards those not ready to adapt).  Many leaders are trapped into societal models lost in time.  This inability to adapt to current social dynamics creates limitations in economic ingenuity, market attraction, and talent retention.

Emerging Markets

The internet is “flattening the world” which is giving rise in emerging markets and consumer behavior in regions which have feminine cultural preferences.  This means that despite the global business language being American English, there is a rise in communication style which is deductive, high context, and indirect – all preferences that are more readily understood by women and preferred in most areas of the world.  [See L’écriture féminine in blog 5 Stages towards a Global Mindset].

Graduates coming out of our top business schools total 51% female students for  Rutgers Business School, 42% female for Wharton School, and 41% female for Harvard Business School (the average percentage of female students in business school across North America is 27%). There is untapped market potential left on the table because the antiquated corporate reasoning is to have more women communicate and behave like the all-white male C-suite, as opposed to all sides understanding how to adapt to other communication styles.

From the top-down, cultural awareness workshops are required to heighten awareness so that we can strategize how we can maintain our position as the world market leader.  It’s time for companies to understand how to appeal towards other styles.

It’s a brave New World.


Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, a Global Leadership program provider, and the founder of Corporate Looking Glass, LLC – a diverse consultancy of OD experts and strategic thinking partners.  We increase retention.  Visit

© Rossina Gil, 2014


Brand new Boeing aircraft

Kimball, Amanda. 2014 UC Davis Study of California Women Business Leaders: A Census of Women Directors and Executive Officers.