Community//

Lynn Berger: “Teach and mentor them to learn to respond to a situation rather than react”

HSP’s need their space. For example do not bombard them. Allow them have their space. Never start a conversation without asking how they are. Since they are sensitive to all events occurring around them you do not know what may have happened recently that could be bothering them. Get a sense of what their mood […]

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

HSP’s need their space. For example do not bombard them. Allow them have their space. Never start a conversation without asking how they are. Since they are sensitive to all events occurring around them you do not know what may have happened recently that could be bothering them. Get a sense of what their mood is before discussing anything of a sensitive matter. Allow them to speak first.


As a part of our series about How To Survive And Thrive As A Highly Sensitive Person, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lynn Berger.

Lynn is a Career Counselor and Coach specializing in helping people make the most of their lives and feel fulfilled. In her position she counsels people how to effectively transition to jobs and/or careers, balance their roles and responsibilities and understand the choices before them.

Her past experience includes working in the Human Resource and Consulting fields. Lynn received both her Master of Arts in Organizational Psychology and her Master of Education in Counseling Psychology from Columbia University. She is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, National Certified Counselor, and Certified Career Counselor. Lynn has been a Career Counselor and Executive Coach in private practice in New York City for over 20 years. She is the external Career Coach For Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania. Ms. Berger has appeared as a guest expert on radio and television shows across the country and has been featured in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, The New York Times, Newsday, Huffington Post, Businessweek.com,and Monster.com, She authored the book, The Savvy Part-Time Professional — How To Land, Create Or Negotiate The Part-Time Job Of Your Dreams.

Lynn was awarded the 2014 New York State Career Development Association Award for Outstanding Career Practitioner.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you help define for our readers what is meant by a Highly Sensitive Person?

HSP’S have a great depth of feeling and are highly sensitive to the interactions they have and the world around them.

Does it simply mean that feelings are easily hurt or offended?

It does not solely mean that feelings are easily hurt or offended. They feel and see things others do not.

Does a Highly Sensitive Person have a higher degree of empathy towards others? Is a Highly Sensitive Person offended by hurtful remarks made about other people?

HSP’s may have a higher degree of empathy since they hear and feel the nuances of an interaction. They can take other people’s problems to heart.

Does a Highly Sensitive Person have greater difficulty with certain parts of popular culture, entertainment or news, that depict emotional or physical pain? Can you explain or give a story?

Reading the news can easily upset them; especially human interest stories. If they are involved politically they may be easily upset about current events. Also before watching or viewing social media they should be sure they are strong enough to deal with what they may see.

Can you please share a story about how a highly sensitive nature created problems for someone at work or socially?

HSP’S may see a situation totally different than you. For example, you may feel you are being nice and they interpret it quite differently. Let’s say you were invited to their party. Due to unforeseen family conflicts it becomes very difficult for you to attend. After a tremendous amount of effort and thought you figure out you can attend for half of the party. You share this information and feel good that you were able to attend even if not for the whole time. They feel hurt and can not appreciate that you tried to attend and conflict can occur.

When does the average person’s level of sensitivity rise above the societal norm? When is one seen as “too sensitive”?

All of this is relative. What one person sees as “too sensitive” feels right to others. Only when it gets in the way of their everyday functioning.

I’m sure that being Highly Sensitive also gives one certain advantages. Can you tell us a few advantages that Highly Sensitive people have?

HSP’s have a great depth of feeling and care about things others may not view as important and neglect. If channeled properly they can use this depth of feeling to help themselves and others.

Can you share a story that you have come across where great sensitivity was actually an advantage?

Heightened sensitivity can be an advantage in the workplace and help prepare you for future events. For example, let’s say your boss has been acting a bit distant. If you sense that as an HSP you can recognize it and determine if something is going on in the organization or between the two of you. It is like you have X-ray vision, if used appropriately. Based upon your sensitivity you might use this information to confront him/her or change positions.

There seems to be no harm in being overly empathetic. What’s the line drawn between being empathetic and being Highly Sensitive?

When you are empathetic you place yourselves in someone else’s shoes and try to understand them. HSP’s have a very hard time doing that. They are reacting to their own feelings most of the time.

Social Media can often be casually callous. How does Social Media affect a Highly Sensitive Person? How can a Highly Sensitive Person utilize the benefits of social media without being pulled down by it?

This can be quite challenging. Social media can be very difficult for HSP’s. Social media highlights peoples experiences and if an HSP is not feeling fulfilled in their own life it can make them feel horrible. The benefits of social media is to connect with those that will support them and make them feel better about themselves.

How would you advise your patient to respond if something they hear or see bothers or affects them, but others comment that that are being petty or that it is minor?

HSP’s need to be able to appreciate themselves and their feelings and not feel less than because someone else feels that they are not entitled to their feelings. I also try to work with people to help them respond to situations rather than react to them. What that means is to take a moment, even seconds, before responding. It allows one to feel more grounded and hopefully gain perspective. When one reacts to a situation they are feeling threatened and that is not going to end up in a positive place.

What strategies do you recommend to your patients to overcome the challenges that come with being overly sensitive without changing their caring and empathetic nature?

To take a moment before responding, Breath deeply and appreciate their caring and empathetic nature. Be easy with themselves. Allow them to see that others do not see the situation the same as them.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a Highly Sensitive Person?

The myth that it is a negative emotion. It is an emotion like other emotions that needs to be appreciated and not dismissed as a downer. It can be seen as quite beautiful.

As you know, one of the challenges of being a Highly Sensitive Person is the harmful, and dismissive sentiment of “why can’t you just stop being so sensitive?” What do you think needs to be done to make it apparent that it just doesn’t work that way?

Make others aware that they would not like it if someone dismissed their emotions and ways of looking at the world. Individuals need to understand and appreciate the mutual usefulness of opposite types. It adds spice and energy to life.

Ok, here is the main question for our discussion. Can you share with us your “5 Things You Need To Know To Survive And Thrive If You Love Or Are In A Relationship With A Highly Sensitive Person. Please give a story or an example for each.

  1. You need to tread carefully with HSP’s ; yet, at the the same time appreciate the depth of their feeling and sensitivity. For example before starting a conversation set a good tone and environment for the interaction to happen. Get the HSP in a relaxed state.
  2. HSP’s need their space. For example do not bombard them. Allow them have their space. Never start a conversation without asking how they are. Since they are sensitive to all events occurring around them you do not know what may have happened recently that could be bothering them. Get a sense of what their mood is before discussing anything of a sensitive matter. Allow them to speak first.
  3. Listen well, try to remain upbeat even if they are being negative or not interested in engaging with you. The more they feel listened to and accepted the easier the interaction will be.
  4. If you are feeling that you are getting no where you may choose to ask them how can we interact better? You might get an interesting answer.
  5. Teach and mentor them to learn to respond to a situation rather than react. To respond means to take a few moments rather than feeling threatened and act quickly. it allows them to gain perspective. For example if someone said something to upset them they need to respond rather than react. The result will be less damaging.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Many individuals that are in transition have an extraordinary amount of difficulty with the “Monday Morning Blues”. Perhaps if there was a universal call-in number for everyone to participate in and plan the week ahead that could be quite helpful. Practical strategies and motivational topics could be discussed.

The focus of the movement would be to make the most of our lives in good and bad times. Many times there can be a silver lining even during periods of challenge. For example when an individual is out of work it can be an opportunity to spend time with family and volunteer or take up a hobby. Furthermore, in times of crisis people band together and social support can reduce stress. It can serve as a boost and make your realize the power and strength of the individuals you meet. Bonds of friendship can result.

The focus of the movement would be to make the most of our lives in good and bad times. Many times there can be a silver lining even during periods of challenge. For example when an individual is out of work it can be an opportunity to spend time with family and volunteer or take up a hobby. Furthermore, in times of crisis people band together and social support can reduce stress. It can serve as a boost and make your realize the power and strength of the individuals you meet. Bonds of friendship can result.

How can our readers follow you online? lynnberger.com, https://www.linkedin.com/in/lynnberger/, https://twitter.com/Lynn_Berger

facebook.com lynn berger ny career counselor & coach

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Community//

“Grounding activity”, With Lynn Berger and Parveen Panwar, Mr. Activated

by Parveen Panwar, Mr. Activated
Community//

Sunrun CEO Lynn Jurich: “I’d like to start a movement to harness renewable energy to become a uniting force in our divided world”

by Yitzi Weiner
Community//

Lynn Margherio: “Make time for yourself “

by Phil La Duke

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.