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Thriving in your life and work as a sensitive career woman

June 30, 2020

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I’m passionate about today’s topic because I classify myself as sensitive.


How do you know if you’re a sensitive career woman?


Hint: If you answer yes to most of the following qualities then chances are you are a sensitive woman. 


Perhaps you:


  • Feel deeply 
  • Cry more easily
  • React with deep felt emotions
  • Can take longer to make a decision (weighing up your emotions with logic)
  • Get upset over poor or wrong decisions
  • Are more prone to anxiety or depression
  • Consider yourself as detail oriented
  • Attract people to you
  • Are a good listener
  • Tend to help and give advice when you can 
  • Get along well with animals
  • Are intuitive
  • Can read people
  • Sense or feel the pain of others
  • Love or hate passionately
  • Deeply feel the problems in the world
  • Are connected to your spirituality
  • Feel in tune with your body


Did you answer yes to most of the above? 


Then chances are you are a sensitive career woman, friend!


You’re in the right place.



I don’t know about you, but I’ve been deeply feeling everything happening in the world this past year:


  • The bushfires in Australia at the start of the year
  • The ongoing protests and unrest in Hong Kong
  • Long drawn out Brexit negotiations
  • The presidential election in the US in 2020
  • Climate change
  • The racial injustice that’s rife in the world
  • COVID-19
  • Ongoing systemic injustice in developing countries


I could go on…..


Being sensitive can feel too much during these times and also bring up the guilt of privilege.


Many sensitive types are familiar with:


+ Being told to harden up and toughen up

+ Getting eye rolled when tears spring to their eyes

+ Trying to numb out or armour out feelings

+ Finding ways to lessen their sensitivity (through sugar, shopping, food, sex, shopping etc.)


Today I want to explore how being sensitive is a gift and something that can be harnessed during these times to bring about true change.


Grab a cup of tea, coffee or wine and let’s dive in!


Thriving in your life and career as a sensitive woman.


I remember in my corporate job, I used to go to the toilets and cry when things were falling apart… 


I needed that space to release my emotions because I just couldn’t keep up appearances. It was awful. 



The truth is, I thought that the corporate environment wasn’t suitable for my sensitive nature, but arguably the entrepreneurial journey is even more challenging. 


In the corporate world, I could hide behind a professional work persona, but as soulful executive coach with a business under my own name, there’s no hiding. 


I’ve consciously chosen to use my story, my journey and my perspective to support women living out their own calling and purpose. And as a sensitive woman it’s been tricky to find my own way with this.


Hanging my shingle so publicly is vulnerable and it’s easy to get negative comments, disparaging remarks and horrible feedback. All of which have happened to me.


But that’s life. And doing my soul’s work is more important than getting hung up on how my work or I, as a person, am perceived. 


There is a way to honour our sensitivity in how we live and work.


Let’s explore how we, as sensitive career women, can use our sensitivity to live and work in sustainable ways that propel us forward….


Siobhan Barnes - Hong Kong Life Coach Career Coach Street 3

As appealing as it might be to change our environments (quitting corporate or hiding away from the world) or try and control people (never going to happen), I believe that isn’t the answer. Instead, taking back our power IS.



Here are my 3 important guideposts for sensitive career women to remember…


Guidepost #1: Embrace your sensitive nature as a strength


These times are calling for greater sensitivity to handle the micro and macro challenges we’re facing across our personal and professional lives. 


Personal challenges including: managing stress, anxiety and uncertainty (micro) as well unpacking and dismantling racism and inherent systems of oppression (macro).


Professional challenges including: clarity on which direction to go in our work, finding a space and place in which to contribute professional (micro) to speaking up and advocating for initiatives that really matter including sustainable work practices, ethical business dealings, diversity equity and inclusion (DEI) training etc (macro).


Family life challenges including: emotionally supporting those we love whilst also being heard and appreciated (micro) to renegotiating ways of operating, relating and living together during these times (macro).


Without sensitivity we won’t be able to make any changes in any of the spheres we live under (personal, professional, family) because we’ll default to old models of leadership that quite frankly don’t give a shit about compassion, humanity and inclusion.


Think about it for a minute….


The strong powerful leader that we see depicted in movies and books certainly doesn’t come across as sensitive.


When I think of a leader in a movie I see a ballbreaker, rich, power hungry, decisive, direct and mostly self serving.


These times are calling for different leadership. The old leadership that got us into this mess isn’t going to fix the problem.


We therefore have to reframe the mindset of a “powerful and effective leader”.


And I believe that the mindset starts with honouring our inherent sensitivity.


I believe that the best way to step into your power as a conscious leader is to embrace your natural self. Embrace your personality, your gifts, and your talents. Just let it be easy. 


You don’t have to be someone that you’re not in order to be “successful.” The world needs you to honour your sensitive nature. 


Action Step: Get clear on who you are and own your natural self.  How? Well, if you haven’t already done so, you can take the Soul Archetype Quiz to discover your unique soul archetype that you’re here to express into the world.



There’s no one in the world quite like you. You have a unique soul archetype that you’re here to express in the world. 


Find out what your archetype is, so that you can build on your strengths, be more of who you really are and do more of what you’re here to do. Take the quiz HERE.


Guidepost #2: Focus on the work and impact you’re here to make and not yourself


As sensitive types, we can take things so personally. 


Back in my corporate days, I remember over analysing my boss’ behaviour and always tying it back to something that I did wrong or didn’t do right. I always assumed the worst. 


I’d think to myself:


….He’s frowning because he must not have liked the deck I put together.


….He slammed his bag on the ground and jumped on the conference call without saying “good morning” so he must be pissed off that I didn’t get a better offer from that landlord.


….He seems to be ignoring me so he must be angry about something.


Gosh, I was so obsessed with me, me, me. 


The poor guy was probably just…


….stressed out

….late for a call and worrying about getting on in time

….distracted by an argument he’d had with his wife in the morning


It’s not about you! Don’t assume that it is. 


Action Step: When you feel like you’re taking something personally, take yourself out of the equation and focus on the work or the goal you’re working towards. Get back in the driving seat and focus on what’s important.


Guidepost #3: Set clear boundaries


This is a big and very important rule for us sensitive types. 


If we’re not careful we can take on other people’s emotions and struggles as our own without even realising it. 


We want to be right there for another person and help them work through their challenge – side by side.  


I remember learning the phrase “compassionate objectivity” in my very first in person coaching course that I attended 7 years ago.


The message was: you can’t help someone if you’re there in it with them. 


Picture a friend sinking in quicksand…..


Would it do any good to jump in and be there with them? Side by side? Asking them “how do you feel?”


No. You’d both get stuck. 


The best thing you can do is stay on dry stable ground and figure out the best way to get your friend out of quicksand. 


The message: Allow both yourself and other people to have their own space and perspectives. You don’t have to literally give everything and join them in their pain and misery in order to be compassionate. 


Action Step: Hold out your arms to the side of you. Sweep your arms in front and as far back as you can and imagine that you are painting a bubble all around yourself. This is your personal space. Imagine the bubble to have a soft and rubbery texture. It’s permeable and breathable, but nothing can penetrate that bubble unless you allow it too. Allow others to have their bubble and know that your bubble can get smaller or bigger as you move closer to or further away from another person. You are protected. 

Siobhan Barnes - Hong Kong Integrative Life Coach Career Coach - Flat Lay Image116

So there you have it, 3 rules to support you in succeeding in your life and work as a sensitive type.


Let’s recap:


Guidepost #1: Embrace your sensitive nature as a strength


Guidepost #2: Focus on the work and impact you’re here to make and not yourself


Guidepost #3: Set clear boundaries 


Now I would love to hear from you:


+ Do you identify with being sensitive? Which traits from the list did you resonate with?


+ Which guidepost would help you the most so that you can stay on track doing work that you love?


Leave a comment and let me know. I read every response!


Here’s to you honouring your beautiful sensitive nature 🙂


With love,




P.S. If you want to go deeper into this topic, come and join me in the Soul Aligned Professional Women Facebook Group.  In this group I deliver REALignment workshops to compassionate leaders and seekers who want to find their REAL selves and live, love and lead in ways that are sustainable, just and liberating. Simply click on the image below to join!


Want to know more about the group? 


Here’s what it’s all about…


Soul Aligned Professional Women is a space for working women who want to do their soul work, without the hustle, grind and merely surviving. This is the space to rediscover who you really are, before the world told you who you “should” be.


This space is for you if you’re working hard in a job that’s got you bogged down in corporate bureaucracy, politics and increasing pressure.


This is the space to BE and get REAL with what’s working and what’s not, so that you can align back to your path, your purpose, the work you came here to do.


I’ve committed to creating this space for working women, for mothers, for seekers, for compassionate achievers. For A-types who want to serve the world. For when you’re ready to heed the call and be the REAL you. For when you desire to live, love and lead in a way that’s soul-aligned, sustainable and liberating.


I know you want MEANING.


I know you’re willing to do the work and want to MAKE A DIFFERENCE with what you do.


I know that you want to listen to your heart and still be PRACTICAL.


I know you want to have FINANCIAL STABILITY AND PROVIDE for yourself and your family.


I know you want to live and work in SUSTAINABLE WAYS without the hustle, grind and merely surviving.


With so many programs and groups out there telling you that landing your dream job or starting a business is the path to find the meaning, purpose and fulfilment you’re seeking, this space is all about supporting you to stop listening to everyone else and finally tune into your own intuition and soul’s calling and take aligned action to make YOUR soul work happen.


My desire is to support you in becoming the REAL woman that you are, so that you can make the contribution you came here to make and lead in a way that’s sustainable, impactful and liberatory – for yourself and for others. Because together we rise.


An Important note: When I refer to “women” I am referring to those who have been socialised as girls and women, cis and trans women, women-identified, femme-presenting, gender non-conforming people, queer positive and non-binary folks.


You can join the Soul Aligned Professional Women FB Group HERE.


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