It is not a deficit but rather a major strength
As with any super power, one must learn how to properly harness its full potential without getting consumed by it
Be open to others but do not allow others to take advantage of you
Realize the ability you have to make others feel better and allow them to feel heard
These skills can shine in any industry
As a part of our series about How To Survive And Thrive As A Highly Sensitive Person, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr.Gary Linkov. Dr. Linkov is a leading board-certified facial plastic surgeon at City Facial Plastics in New York City. Dr. Gary Linkov is a graduate of Cornell University and received his medical degree from Columbia University. He completed his residency in head & neck surgery at the Temple Head and Neck Institute. After residency, Dr. Linkov completed his American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery fellowship at the highly regarded Washington University in St. Louis. His expertise includes facial plastic surgery and hair restoration surgery. Aside from his passion for improving his patient’s lives, Dr. Linkov enjoys basketball and tennis, museums and opera, sci-fi, and spending time with his wife, daughter, and dachshund.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself and what you do professionally?
I have a private practice in Manhattan that focuses on facial plastic and reconstructive surgery as well as hair restoration surgery. I am also the Chief of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery at the Brooklyn Veterans hospital.
Thank you for your bravery and strength in being so open with us. I understand how hard this is. Can you help define for our readers what is meant by a Highly Sensitive Person? Does it simply mean that feelings are easily hurt or offended?
A highly sensitive person (HSP) is someone who takes things to heart and allows himself to be vulnerable in various situations.
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?
An HSP does generally have more empathy for others and is able to position himself in the shoes of others to truly understand and feel the experience they may be going through. An HSP may get offended more readily than others since they give comments more thought and value than others.
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?
I remember being a teenager and sitting in a barber shop while they were playing a movie on the TV called Hostel. The depictions of human torture were so disturbing and horrific that I asked the store owners to change the movie.
Can you please share a story about how your highly sensitive nature created problems at work or socially?
During residency training, many attending surgeons are critical of a trainees work and can be quite direct with critique. I would sometimes take some of these comments to heart and feel bad about myself at times. Later I realized that they targeted everyone in similar ways.
When did you suspect that your level of sensitivity was above the societal norm? How did you come to see yourself as “too sensitive”?
In college I joined a group called EARS which was an empathy-based counseling service. I realized that all of the folks in that group were different from many others in our ability to feel and desire to discuss these feelings.
I’m sure that being Highly Sensitive also gives you certain advantages. Can you tell us a few advantages that Highly Sensitive people have?
It makes for a good listener. It allows me to connect well with my patients and understand their motivations for a given surgical procedure.
Can you share a story from your own life where your great sensitivity was actually an advantage?
In college while shadowing a doctor I was able to connect well with one of the patients and help her understand her cancer diagnosis better and similarly, relay what she was going through to the doctor so that he could give her the proper guidance.
There seems to be no harm in being overly empathetic. What’s the line drawn between being empathetic and being Highly Sensitive?
Being empathetic is great as it allows you to understand others better. Being highly sensitive implies that one can sometimes let others hurt ones feelings by allowing words to be perceived as hurtful.
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?
Many people make comments on social media without realizing the toll it can have on a person at the receiving end. But social media also allows us to reach and connect with so many amazing people.
How would you respond if something you hear or see bothers or affects you, but others comment that you are being petty or that it is minor?
I think exploring the deeper meaning of someone’s words and why it affected me is worthwhile and can sometimes open people’s minds to why a comment was hurtful.
What strategies do you use to overcome the perception that others may have of you as overly sensitive without changing your caring and empathetic nature?
Keeping a straight face and now letting others see that something they said may have hurt me is helpful. There is a way to be open emotionally to others but not allow every unsavory comment to penetrate the skin.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a Highly Sensitive Person? Can you explain what you mean?
One is that you don’t get angry. Being sensitive is one trait but getting angry and working towards what is right is another.
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?
We cannot control how sensitive we are, but we can control what actions we take once the information gets encoded.
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 As A Highly Sensitive Person? Please give a story or an example for each.
- It is not a deficit but rather a major strength
- As with any super power, one must learn how to properly harness its full potential without getting consumed by it
- Be open to others but do not allow others to take advantage of you
- Realize the ability you have to make others feel better and allow them to feel heard
- These skills can shine in any industry
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.
Spreading kindness by doing going out of your way to do at least one nice thing for someone else without expecting anything in return.
How can our readers follow you online?
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.
About the Author
Phil La Duke is a popular speaker & writer with more than 500 works in print. He has contributed to Entrepreneur, Monster, Thrive Global and is published on all inhabited continents. His first book is a visceral, no-holds-barred look at worker safety, I Know My Shoes Are Untied! Mind Your Own Business. An Iconoclast’s View of Workers’ Safety. His most recent book is Lone Gunman: Rewriting the Handbook On Workplace Violence Prevention listed as #16 on Pretty Progressive magazine’s list of 49 books that powerful women study in detail. His third book, Blood In My Pockets Is Blood On Your Hands is expected in March followed by Loving An Addict: Collateral Damage Of the Opioid Epidemic due to be released in June. Follow Phil on Twitter @philladuke or read his weekly blog www.philladuke.wordpress.com