Monday, 10 August 2015

Highly Sensitive People and Business

As I've nearly finished reading the Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron (and what  a great book it is!) I thought I'd put my thoughts down about how this relates to me (definitely an HSP) and those of us who are working as therapists, counsellors, health workers, etc. It seems to me that most of us are that category of easily over-aroused people who therefore prefer to be our own boss, having quiet time away from the hubbub, and avoiding the strident dominant types who tend to run corporations and, increasingly these days, public life (including service sector and local government, education, etc), According to Elaine, about 20% of people are born this way, and the only way they can survive and thrive is to create an environment that fits this personality style. Well, I seem to have done that.
Working with clients is a very introspective process, but as we need people it is also a chance to contribute and make a difference in life without the over-stimulation that high pressure sales, or self-promotion that entails.

However the downside to this I've found is  though we're very good at the therapy bit, we're less confident around marketing and promotion which we largely leave to others or completely. Hence there are a lot of us out there seeing maybe 3-10 clients a week, making do. If, like me you're also running a small therapy business then maybe you'll recognise the following scenario:
You know you're rubbish at the marketing. you want more clients but you hope they'll just come to you. You see an ad for 'how to market your therapy business/ conquer social media/ find your inner salesperson and you sign up. you do the study for a while, you apply a few of the ideas (which are usually sound) but, because they put you in the uncomfortable position of being 'out there' selling yourself, you soon lapse and fall back into your own routine. Another course wasted. And of course there is no shortage of courses...

It seems to me that there are lots of 'A-type' driven people out there selling courses for how to be more like them to those of us sensitives who know we can't do it. After my last course (about the 8th!) I vowed to do no more. It's not that I don't think it's a good idea to focus more on marketing myself. I just struggle because it's not 'me'. It feels all wrong. I try but it  comes over as inauthentic and that's how I am perceived. So, I've decided I'm not going to do it their way. I'm going to write a book, do my PhD and develop myself steadily, with focus but no rush. It saddens me to think there's so many of us therapists out there doing good work but most of us feel inadequate in some way cos were not out there selling our latest juicing package or social media marketing techniques. And yet, we do ok. Truth to tell, we don't want to be seeing 40 clients a week like the courses tell us we should be. We want to do what we do but not to overstimulate ourselves with sales targets and radio interviews and accolades. I say that knowing that there are some therapists out there who do and good luck to them. I see them making great headway, helping more people, that's great. But I have to accept who I am, not because I don't want to get better or improve my lot, but I don't want to do it their way. I want to do it mine. Slow but steady.