Is Hypersensitivity A New Skill Employers Are Looking For?

In 2016, the World Economic Forum (WEF) released a report in which it listed the top skills employers will be looking for in 2020. We’re now in 2020 and we can see that much of what was predicted in the report has been correct. Soft skills took the top spots of the list, and understandably so. If you compare today’s workplace with those from the past, you won’t see people leaning over at their individual desks relentlessly typing away from 9-5. Instead you’ll see plenty more scenes of collaboration and team work. The dynamics of the workplace are changing and with it a new set of attitudes have been rolling in. Eight out of the top 10 skills mentioned by the WEF are:

1. Cognitive Flexibility
2. Negotiation
3. Service Orientation
4. Judgement & Decision Making
 5. Emotional Intelligence
 6. Coordinating with Others
7. People Management

All of the above have to do with working with others. Whether it is trying to make a judgement on how to approach a boss or a colleague, to working with others to complete a project, people skills are the most essential skills of the current and coming workforce. Why are these skills becoming more important than hard, technical skills? Because soft skills are human. Robots and machines are beginning to take over the most mundane to the most complicated of technical tasks. However, they have not conquered human thought and emotion yet. Therefore, these human traits are now deemed highly valuable.

So how does hypersensitivity fit into this?

Psychologists define hypersensitivity as when “someone believes their self-worth depends on being in good standing with others”. The more a person thinks this way, the more hypersensitive he or she is. Considering this definition and looking at the list of “soft skills” predicted by the WEF, we can see parallels. When employers are looking for people who can negotiate, “communicate based on who you’re talking to”, and always be willing to help others, then it seems like there is a high emphasis on developing relationships with others and knowing how to get into “good standing” and staying there. However, while the word “hypersensitive” has a negative connotation attached to it as having low self-esteem, the WEF also emphasizes the skill of using good judgement and being able to make intelligent decisions. This means being able to accurately and objectively assess a situation, make the best decision accordingly and present it properly to the right people in the right way, whether the decision made was a popular one or not. This point emphasizes good people skills along with confidence and understanding. One of the biggest people skills is being able to work with others, which includes being able to make decisions and sticking to them in the least “disruptive” way.

Therefore, yes, employers are looking for employees who are more sensitive: sensitive to different demographics, personality types, circumstances, and more. More employers and work cultures are emphasizing team work and collaboration. One team can have several different types of people and therefore, it is of utmost importance for employees and employers to have all hands-on deck and be able to get along with everyone else on the team. However, the increased sensitivity that employers are seeking is balanced with being able to able to make sound judgements and decisions. Therefore, hypersensitivity, in the context of the workplace, is about recognizing the fine line that defines today’s workplaces, and being able to walk it.

This article was written by Nabila Ikram.

Nabila Ikram has a B.A. in education, followed by a professional journey working with several business and nonprofit startups, including a couple of her own. Along with her business adventures, she has been writing and editing in various capacities and across industries over the years. She has traveled extensively and has a passion for learning and reflecting on matters of culture, society, and the “Information Age”. She enjoys reading, writing, and, as a mother of three herself, uplifting other mothers in their own personal and professional pursuits.


  1. I agree with your analysis. I’ve noticed the same trends and I like it. My skills are a mix of technical certifications and soft skills (people skills);I enjoy people skills the most.

  2. How do you market hypersensitivity and which types of companies are likely to be prioritizing this trait?

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