The quiet strength of leadership embracing sensitivity, exemplified by Nina Khoo.

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Show Notes

Have you ever wondered about the unique strengths of highly sensitive persons, or how sensitivity, empathy, and intuition play a role in effective leadership? Throughout this engaging conversation, Nina Khoo encourages listeners to embrace their sensitivity as a powerful asset and advocates for sensitive individuals stepping into leadership roles.

In this episode, join host David Hall and special guest Nina Khoo as they dive deep into the world of highly sensitive individuals and the quiet strength of leadership.  Listeners will learn about the superpowers that come with deep thinking, sensitivity, empathy, and intuition, and discover that these qualities are not weaknesses, but incredible gifts and assets in leadership.

Nina shares personal experiences, practical strategies, and discusses the importance of understanding, accepting, and appreciating one’s sensitivity to identify strengths and manage challenges.

Key takeaways from this episode include insights on setting boundaries, managing overwhelm, nurturing confidence, and the necessity of downtime for sensitive individuals. This episode also shines a spotlight on debunking myths and stereotypes about sensitive leaders and highlights the vital need for empathy and depth of processing in decision-making across various sectors.

Tune in to learn how sensitivity can be a source of quiet strength in leadership, and be strong.

Embracing Sensitivity as a Leadership Strength: Insights from Nina Khoo

Welcome back to The Quiet and Strong Podcast! I’m your host, David Hall, and I’m thrilled to share some powerful insights from our most recent episode with Nina Khoo. Nina is a sensitive leadership coach for women and has a wealth of knowledge on embracing high sensitivity as a strength, rather than a weakness. In this episode, we dive into the intersection of sensitivity, leadership, and personal growth.

Understanding High Sensitivity

Nina Khoo encourages sensitive women to step into leadership roles, emphasizing that sensitivity is a gift that needs to be valued and harnessed. As a highly sensitive person myself, I was particularly intrigued by her perspective. Nina began by sharing her personal journey of discovering that both she and her daughter are highly sensitive individuals. This realization had a profound impact on her life, leading to feelings of not fitting in, overthinking, and noticing things that others might miss.

The Journey of Embracing Sensitivity

For Nina, being highly sensitive has been a transformative journey. It involved understanding how sensitivity shows up in her life, managing overwhelm, setting boundaries, and embracing it as a superpower. She described highly sensitive individuals as having special powers such as deep thinking, empathy, and the ability to see the big picture.

Developing a Supportive Community

One of the key points Nina made was the importance of building confidence by being part of a nurturing community. Receiving support and having people who believe in and encourage them is crucial. When overwhelmed, having a trusted person to decompress with and offer reminders and support can make all the difference.

Strategies for Managing Overthinking

Overthinking is a common challenge for highly sensitive people. Nina shared several strategies to manage it, including breathing techniques and connecting with the body through activities like dance and spending time in nature. She also emphasized the importance of developing a productivity strategy that meets personal needs, utilizes strengths, and allows for necessary downtime.

The Need for Space and Alone Time

As highly sensitive individuals, it’s essential to have space and alone time to recharge. Nina mentioned building a garden room as her retreat to process and decompress. Whether introverts, extroverts, or empaths, highly sensitive people need to schedule downtime and create boundaries to avoid over-scheduling and overwhelm.

Understanding the Intersection of Sensitivity and Empathy

Nina and I discussed the distinction between being highly sensitive and being an empath. Not all empaths are highly sensitive, and vice versa. Understanding these differences can help sensitive individuals in navigating their experiences and setting appropriate boundaries.

Sensitivity as a Leadership Asset

Nina passionately champions the idea that sensitive people, especially women, should step into leadership roles. She believes sensitivity is an incredible gift and leadership asset, debunking the myth that sensitivity is a weakness. According to Nina, the qualities of a great leader include the ability to think deeply, be empathic, feel deeply, and notice subtle things.

Debunking Stereotypes and Myths

Throughout our conversation, we addressed the stereotypes and myths that sensitive leaders face. One prevalent myth is that sensitive people can’t be leaders or aren’t strong. Nina and I agree that sensitive individuals bring invaluable qualities such as compassion, empathy, and depth of processing into decision-making.

Building Confidence and Finding Strengths

Helping clients find their strengths as leaders and build confidence was another key topic. Nina emphasizes the intersection of sensitivity and power, encouraging sensitive leaders to embrace their unique qualities and step into their roles with confidence and integrity.

The Power of Intuition

Nina shared a fascinating personal experience involving intuition. Her story highlighted how intuition can guide us in profound ways, which she believes can be explained by quantum science. As someone who is intuitive myself, I found this discussion particularly enlightening.

Final Thoughts and Resources

In conclusion, this episode of The Quiet and Strong Podcast highlighted the importance of understanding, accepting, and appreciating one’s sensitivity. Nina Khoo’s insights are a testament to how embracing our unique qualities can lead to personal growth and effective leadership. Sensitive people have a duty to make their voices heard and lead with confidence.
For those interested in learning more about embracing high sensitivity, Nina shared her contact information and a sensitive leadership assessment tool available on her website. Additionally, you can find more resources and a free personality assessment on the Quiet and Strong website.
Thank you for joining us on this journey of self-discovery and growth. Until next time, remember to embrace your sensitivity and lead with strength and compassion.

Key Takeaways

– Sensitive people have valuable strengths such as deep thinking, empathy, and the ability to notice subtle details.

– Highly sensitive individuals should prioritize understanding, accepting, and appreciating their sensitivity to identify their strengths and manage challenges.

– Building confidence as a sensitive person involves being part of a nurturing community, receiving support, and having people believe in and encourage them.

– Strategies for managing overwhelm and overthinking include setting boundaries, utilizing breathing techniques, engaging in activities like dance, spending time in nature, and ensuring necessary downtime.

– Spaces for alone time and retreat, such as a garden room, are crucial for highly sensitive individuals to recharge and process.

– Sensitivity is not a weakness, but an incredible gift and leadership asset, and sensitive leaders bring compassion, empathy, and depth of processing into decision-making.

– Sensitive women are encouraged to step into leadership roles, emphasizing that their sensitivity is a gift and they have a duty to make their voices heard.

Action Steps to Create Change

1. Take the sensitive leadership assessment tool available on Nina Khoo’s website to gain insights into your own leadership style and strengths as a sensitive person.

2. Reflect on your own experiences and identify moments where sensitivity has been a superpower for you. Embrace and appreciate your sensitivity as a gift rather than a weakness.

3. Consider joining a nurturing community or support group where you can connect with and receive encouragement from like-minded individuals who understand the challenges and strengths of being highly sensitive.

4. Prioritize setting boundaries and scheduling downtime to avoid over-scheduling and overwhelm, ensuring that you allow yourself the necessary space for self-care and processing.

5. Dive deeper into understanding the intersection of sensitivity and power by exploring resources and literature on sensitive leadership and the unique strengths that sensitive individuals bring to leadership roles.

Guest and Host

Nina Khoo, a highly sensitive, creative visionary, and guide, champions all Sensitive Women called to lead our World to a healthier, more compassionate place. Supporting and nurturing Sensitive Female Leaders to let go of everything that keeps them small & invisible, Nina helps them lead with confidence, integrity & sensitivity.

Through understanding and working with their Highly Sensitive physiology, rather than letting it limit them, Nina’s clients are able to stay out of overwhelm and instead tap into the incredible strengths their sensitivity brings. This allows them to be visible, speak out for what they believe in and show up fully in their work & personal lives.

– – –

Contact Nina:

Visit Nina’s Website:
Learn about Nina’s 8-Week Program: 
Born to Lead

LinkedIn | Facebook

– – –

Contact the Host of the Quiet and Strong Podcast:

David Hall

Author, Speaker, Educator, Podcaster
david [at]

Take the FREE Personality Assessment:

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Timestamped Overview

00:00 Nina Koo champions sensitive female leaders to lead confidently.

03:33 Parent struggles with child’s tantrum and feelings of failure.

10:40 70% highly sensitive people introverts, 30% extroverts, some ambiverts. Need downtime to recharge due to highly responsive nervous systems.

12:44 Assess needs, establish boundaries, express them kindly.

17:44 Sometimes we overlook our own strengths, making it hard to appreciate others’ strengths. Intuition may manifest differently in people.

18:33 Fascination with intuition and a strange experience in Portugal.

21:42 Deep thinking, empathy, sensitivity, observation, corporate experience.

27:27 Strength comes with time and support from others in the highly sensitive community.

30:22 The text discusses reframing overthinking and techniques for managing it.

31:59 Dance form combining arts for body connection and calm.

37:52 Encouraging sensitive women to lead, use sensitivity as a gift, and be visible in the world.

39:53 Thanking for joining. Get in touch via email or website. Free personality assessment available.

Podcast Transcript

Nina Khoo [00:00:00]:

I think it’s really just to encourage sensitive women to step into leadership because I think for many sensitive women, especially, you know, we’re so we’re so prone to people pleasing. We’re so prone to becoming overwhelmed and thinking I couldn’t possibly lead because I can’t cope. It would be too much. But it’s really understanding that you can manage you’re overwhelmed. But, you know, your sensitivity is a huge gift, but also I think sensitive people at this time, at this moment in time, almost have a duty to step up and make our voices heard.

David Hall [00:00:49]:

Hello, And welcome to episode 152 of the Quiet and Strong podcast, especially for introverts. I’m your host, David Hall. I’m the creator of quiet and It’s a weekly podcast dedicated to understanding the strengths and needs of introverts. Introversion is not something to fix, but to be embraced. Normally we will air each episode on a Monday. Be sure to subscribe on your favorite platform. Leave a review.

David Hall [00:01:14]:

That would mean a lot to me. Tell a friend about the podcast. Help get the word out there that introversion is a beautiful thing. Highly sensitive, creative visionary guide, Nina Koo champions all sensitive women called to lead our world to a healthier, more compassionate place, supporting and nurturing sensitive female leaders who let go of everything that keeps them small and invisible. Nina helps them lead with confidence, integrity, and sensitivity. Through understanding and working with the highly sensitive physiology, rather than letting it limit them, Nina’s clients are able to stay out of overwhelm and instead tap into the incredible strength their sensitivity brings. This allows them to be visible, speak out for what they believe in, and show up fully in their work and personal lives. All right.

David Hall [00:02:06]:

Well, welcome to the Quiet and Strong podcast, Nina. Nina, it’s so good to have you on.

Nina Khoo [00:02:10]:

Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here.

David Hall [00:02:13]:

So, Nina, we’re gonna get into the work that you do as a a sensitive leadership coach, especially for women. But before we do that, let’s just talk about you and your journey as being a highly sensitive person and now being a coach for other highly sensitive individuals.

Nina Khoo [00:02:29]:

Yeah, great. Love to. Can I tell a story about how I found out I was I was highly sensitive?

David Hall [00:02:36]:

Yeah. Please do.

Nina Khoo [00:02:38]:

Right, are you sitting comfortably? So frustrated cries wind their way down the stairs to assail me. My shoulders tense, rising 2 inches to greet my ears. I sigh, my heart dropping with my out breath. 8:30 AM, Monday, a school day, not again flashes through my mind. My chest tightening, irritation and snapping at my heels, I climb the stairs to my daughter’s bedroom, hearing the cries grow louder with each step I take. On the floor of the bedroom, a writhing tantruming mess is playing out. Small hands claw to strip off socks and pull at her dress collar as my daughter screams in anger. My desperate please to please keep her uniform on fall on deaf ears as she shrieks and they rise to a crescendo.

Nina Khoo [00:03:33]:

My ears ring and my blood pressure rises. A 1,000 thoughts whiz through my head like a swarm of angry bees. What have I done wrong? I’m such a failure as a parent that I can’t even get my child to school on time. Have I raised a monster? Is there something really wrong with my daughter? Can I turn this around in 5 minutes and still make it to school before the bell rings? Is there anyone out there who can help me? All the while fighting a growing scary urge to grab my daughter by the shoulders and give her a sharp slap to just stop the siren like wailing or throw her out the window. Eventually, the the tantrum subsides sufficiently. And with a superhuman effort on my part, the hot, sweaty mess is coerced off the floor and dressed again, in her offending uniform. Later, after finally making school drop off, I arrive on a friend’s doorstep and instantly burst into my own tears of frustration. It’s not even 9 o’clock, and the exhaustion from riding the emotional roller coaster of my daughter’s emotions already threatens to cripple me.

Nina Khoo [00:04:48]:

Inside my friend’s house, over a cup of soothing tea, my friend hands me a book, The Highly Sensitive Child by doctor Elaine Aron, and says, I think you need to read this. Only a few chapters in, I’m struck by 2 realizations. The first brings blessed relief. My daughter isn’t a monster. She’s just a highly sensitive child and overwhelm. The second, even more profound, I’m highly sensitive as well. Learning this is like finding the missing jigsaw piece to my life. Everything starts to fall into place for me.

Nina Khoo [00:05:26]:

Why I feel different, never fitting in anywhere, wearing my heart on my sleeve, noticing things that others seem to miss, my tendency to overthink and not just let things go. The light bulbs go off like flashes of a paparazzi’s camera. I’ve finally been given the right user manual for me. So since I’ve discovered that I’m a highly sensitive person, I’ve really learned to pay attention to my overwhelm and to my daughter’s overwhelm. Pay attention to the environments I spend time in, and I’ve come to really embrace my sensitivity and fully appreciate it as a superpower.

David Hall [00:06:05]:

So at the same time, you discovered you were highly sensitive and you also had a high highly sensitive child.

Nina Khoo [00:06:11]:

Yeah. I actually have 2 highly sensitive children, both both daughters, both girls, but they’re very, very different.

David Hall [00:06:19]:

Yeah. Yeah. That’s for sure. And no owners manual either.

Nina Khoo [00:06:24]:

Oh, no. That would be too easy.

David Hall [00:06:26]:

Yeah. So tell us a little bit more about what it means to be highly sensitive.

Nina Khoo [00:06:33]:

Me, it’s I’ve really gone through it. You know, it’s an overused term, but I’ve it’s really been a journey for me. So I was amazed that I’ve gone through decades of my life. I even have a degree in psychology, but I’ve never heard the term before of being highly sensitive. And so it was such a revelation for me. And you know, I say it is it’s like finding the missing jigsaw piece puzzle to my life because everything really did make sense, and it explains so much. But for me, being highly sensitive has been a journey of understanding what it means, how it shows up for me what I need to do to work with the challenges of being highly sensitive. You know, the overwhelm, the overstimulation, the need for a lot of downtime and rest and recuperation, but also how to set boundaries, how to say no to things that don’t really serve me, how to let go of things.

Nina Khoo [00:07:33]:

But, also, I’ve come to realize, especially in the last couple of years, that it is such an incredible gift to be sensitive. And that is actually it’s it’s I know doctor Elaine Aaron doesn’t like the term superpower, but I do see it as a very amazing, amazing gift. And do call it a superpower sometimes. But by the same token, I think people who aren’t sensitive, who can just be in crowded environments and not be faced. I think that’s a super power too. So I think we all have superpowers, but, highly sensitive people have very specific superpowers, you know, our ability to think deeply, process deeply, to have empathy, to really feel deeply to see things that others miss and to relate everything to the big picture. I think those are really, really special powers.

David Hall [00:08:28]:

Okay. Definitely superpowers. What does doctor Elaine Aaron, call him instead? The strengths.

Nina Khoo [00:08:34]:

Yeah. I guess, you know, she says, you know, like anybody we have strengths and we have weaknesses. She’s she’s I from what I’ve well, from what I understand, she’s very much about normalizing the sensitive trait, which I completely understand. But I think, you know, sensitive has such a bad press in the west that we almost have to go very much the other way so that we kind of swing back into a bit of a balance. So I’m also saying it’s a superpower.

David Hall [00:09:02]:

Oh, yeah. Fully agree. And it’s it’s nobody is the same. We all have our differences and we have our gifts. You know? So you can call them gifts or strengths. I also use superpowers. Definitely, you know, me figuring out I was an introvert. You know, I also had a degree in psychology, you have master’s in counseling? And it it took a while, but it was that missing puzzle piece.

David Hall [00:09:25]:

But it just is it’s so freeing to know, hey. These are my gifts. These are my superpowers. Also, here’s what I need. You know?

Nina Khoo [00:09:34]:

Mhmm. Absolutely.

David Hall [00:09:35]:

What have you found that you really need as a as a highly sensitive person?

Nina Khoo [00:09:41]:

I need space. I need alone time. That’s so crucial for me. I’m currently sitting in a garden room that I insisted that we build. We bought we bought a house ironically on a pretty busy road where we live. And we’re also underneath a flight a flight path. So, thankfully, it’s not a very busy airport, but still there are planes that go overhead. We’ve got, you know, busy traffic outside.

Nina Khoo [00:10:06]:

So I told my husband, if we’re gonna buy this house, which we love, we’re gonna have to build a garden room for me at the bottom of the garden just so I can get a little bit away from everything. And so, yeah, I get to hide away in here, do my work, retreat, but I do need a lot of time by myself to really think and process and just be.

David Hall [00:10:27]:

Yeah. Yeah. That’s very important. Let’s talk a little bit about the intersection of, you know, being a sensitive person, maybe also being an empath, being an introvert, being an extrovert, how does that all fit together?

Nina Khoo [00:10:40]:

Well, they do say that 70% of highly sensitive people are introverts, but then that does mean that 30% are extroverts. And I do believe that, you know, some of us are ambiverts that we can go either way. And also, of course, then in the mix, you get high sensation seeking highly sensitive people you kind of need the adrenaline rush, but then need a lot of downtime afterwards to recover. So you get everything in the mix. I think what highly sensitive people and introverts have in common is this need to step away and recharge and have downtime. Because, of course, if we’re highly sensitive, we’ve got highly responsive nervous systems, which mean we’re triggered into fight, flight or freeze much more readily than others. We do need to do things to activate our rest and relaxation response.

David Hall [00:11:37]:

And you were starting to talk about how, you know, you need to set appropriate boundaries. How do you do that? How do you do that? You know, how do you let others know? Like, I need to go down to the garden room or or whatever it is that you need to do. How do you articulate your need while letting them know it’s it’s something that you need. It’s not personal. Right?

Nina Khoo [00:11:58]:

So I think that it’s very challenging for highly sensitive people on many levels because first of all, it’s understanding that you have that need and accepting that you have that need and that it is a genuine need. I teach my clients that self care is essential. It’s not a nice to have. It really needs to be a priority. And often I have to remind myself of that. But I think what I also say is that our boundaries as highly sensitive people need to be firm but flexible. Because what we need one day may be quite different from what we need another day depending on whether we’ve eaten well, whether we’ve slept well, you know, how much we’ve got going on at the time. And so it’s always about tuning in and asking yourself.

Nina Khoo [00:12:44]:

So what is it that I do need today? What can I say yes to? What do I need to say no to? I think a great response is if somebody asks you to do something rather than immediately trying to people please and say yes, it’s like, yeah. Let me let me get back on that, let me have a thing. I’d love to help, but let me let me think about my diary, and I’ll get back to you. So it’s all always about building in the pause I’m checking in with yourself. It’s like, do I have the capacity to do that? And you also asked how you, communicate your boundaries to those around you. I think so first of all, it’s recognizing that you have a need and then not being shy to voice it. And so it’s but to voice it in a loving way, it’s like, oh, you know what? I’d really love to help you with that, but I’ve got a lot on my plate at the moment. So maybe I can help you with that another time.

Nina Khoo [00:13:39]:

Not now. And in terms of me retreating to my garden room, yeah, that’s a challenge sometimes. I think my husband does he does complain when I spend a lot of time by myself, but I’m slowly trying to explain to him and get him to understand that I do need to do this for my own sanity and my own health, but also for our relationship. Because if I don’t get the time that I need to recharge and rest, it’s no fun being around me.

David Hall [00:14:09]:

Yeah. So it’s good for you. It’s Good for

Nina Khoo [00:14:12]:

him. Yeah. Absolutely.

David Hall [00:14:14]:

Because sometimes it’s it’s it’s difficult to have people understand that what the needs that we have. So tell us about the about being highly sensitive and being an impact. You know, how do those how do those fit together? And what what is an impact?

Nina Khoo [00:14:31]:

So. Yes. I had a very interesting revelation around this, David, because I always assumed if you’re highly sensitive, then you must being an empath as well because we have the capacity to be empathic. But what I’ve come to learn and realize is that, yes, we have the ability as highly sensitive people to be empathic, but that doesn’t mean we’re also an empath. And that I have actually met some people who are empaths, but not highly sensitive, which really was hard for me to get my mind around. I’m like, how can you not be sensitive if you’re an empath? But, yeah, I’ve actually met somebody who’s an empath and not highly sensitive. So that’s a really interesting, an an an interesting in concept. But I think just being highly sensitive because we have this brain that takes in more information and process it.

Nina Khoo [00:15:24]:

And we have these highly responsive nervous systems, which I kind of always think of as like a radio antenna so we can pick up on things more easily than others. I believe everybody can pick up on stuff, you know, and energy and everything that’s out there. But I think highly sensitive people have a more finely tuned ability to do so. So I think that’s what gives us the ability to be empathic, but only when we’re not overwhelmed. I think when we’re overwhelmed, then that all goes out the window.

David Hall [00:15:56]:

Yeah. You know, these kinds of conversations like you and I are having are So important because, you know, I was in a workshop and we were talking about strengths and I definitely deeply care about people and things I’m doing. But I’m not an empath. But it was because of a conversation I had, like, you know, talking about strengths and personality where I was talking to someone who was very empathic and she was telling me what it was like, I’m like, oh, okay. That’s not me. And my my empathy comes in a different way. It comes in more of a logical thinking way. Like, if I’m if I’m if I’m Talking with you, I might be imagining, okay, how can I help Nina? I’m thinking about it versus, you know, I don’t have that gift of feeling somebody else’s feelings.

David Hall [00:16:42]:

Who knows why? But it was just so these kinds of conversations are so important as we can understand each other and not have misunderstandings about our our needs and our gifts.

Nina Khoo [00:16:54]:

Absolutely. And I find that fascinating because I think, you know, we only have our own experience, so we always assume well, I used to assume that everybody experienced the world the same way I did. And then it’s only when I discovered I’m highly sensitive, and you start to realize, actually, yeah, I’m different, and I’m different for a very good reason. It’s because I’m wired differently. And what you just sort of explained there that you are empathic, in a way that you think about peep what people might need rather than feel them. Yes. I find it fascinating, but that’s what I love. That’s what I love about the human condition you know, we are all very different.

Nina Khoo [00:17:33]:

And for me, everything is a spectrum, and everybody sits somewhere on that spectrum. And we need every single person exactly the way they are to make the world work beautifully.

David Hall [00:17:44]:

Yeah. And what you’re saying, sometimes we’re so close to our own strengths that we might not even realize that their strength or other people might not realize their strength because they’re, you know, like you said, you you know, we really only have our experience. And so sometimes it’s hard to appreciate other people’s strengths. So I I know I heard you say in a different interview you’re in that you’re intuitive. I am too, but it might just manifest itself in a different way. Sometimes I just know things that people are like, how do you know that? You know, that can be hard to explain to someone that isn’t coming up with things intuitively. You know, it’s like, Well, I I know that because I’m putting all the pieces together and it it it it fits where somebody else might really have to look at all the actual Facts and all all of those good things.

Nina Khoo [00:18:33]:

Yeah. I find intuition is absolutely fascinating. Again, you know, I think people are intuitive in different ways. I mean, I’ve had some really weird and wacky experiences in my life, that just a few that really stand out. Like, for instance, I remember being in Portugal with 1 of my sisters, and we were looking for this specific place on the hill, it was meant to have been a cave that a monk had sat and meditated in for many, many years. And my sister and I really wanted to go and find this hey. And we were looking at this map, and it was really badly drawn, and we could not make head or tails of this map. So in the end, we kept getting lost, so we just got got rid of the map.

Nina Khoo [00:19:17]:

And I just suddenly had this feeling that I just needed to start walking. And I just was pulled just in this weird sort of undulating direction. You’ve around these paths, ducking under tree. So it wasn’t something that was very obvious. It’s like, okay. It’s that direction. But I found our way exactly to where we needed to go to. And it was just incredible how that it was just it was as if I was being pulled by an invisible cord.

Nina Khoo [00:19:50]:

And my sister who is with me was quite amazed as well. But, yeah, that was absolutely bizarre. But there are just certain times where things like that have happened. And I, you know, I really believe it is intuition, but I also believe that our science, you know, quantum science, especially, is going to be able to explain these things in a way that we can’t actually consciously explain them now.

David Hall [00:20:18]:

Yeah. So on this show, we definitely talk about usually, we’re talking about introversion, And we talk about the strengths and needs of introverts. And let’s talk about that as far as as being a highly sensitive person. So we we’ve been talking about the strengths and needs of being highly sensitive, and we also bust myths. So is there a myth or two that you would like to bust about being sensitive?

Nina Khoo [00:20:42]:

Absolutely. I think the biggest myth, especially in the west, is that sensitivity is a weakness and that it’s something that needs to be, you know, hidden or overcome or, God forbid, even medicated away for for some people. I’m all for getting sensitive people to really understand the sensitivity, to appreciate it, and to see it as the incredible gift and superpower that it can be. And I actually think sensitivity is one of our greatest leadership assets. And that’s one of my passions, is to help sensitive women, especially, but, you know, sensitive people in general to step into positions of leadership. Because I truly believe that we need more sensitive leaders in this world. So sensitivity is not a weakness. It’s actually an amazing thing.

David Hall [00:21:33]:

Yeah. So let’s talk about that. So that’s that’s the work that you’re doing, working with sensitive women leaders, especially. What makes a great leader?

Nina Khoo [00:21:42]:

So I think it’s the ability to think deeply, to really process deeply, to think deeply, to think about the long term implications of results, you know, or decisions that you make. It’s the ability to be empathic, to pick up on what other people might be feeling and thinking is the ability to feel deeply. I think that’s an amazing gift as well to really feel how other people might be feeling or what a decision you make might cause somebody to feel. And also this, our amazing ability is sensitive people to notice the subtle things that other people might miss, to see things, you know, notice. I remember I used to sit in boardroom meetings for my sins when I was in the corporate world, and we’d be talking about projects and, you know, projects it need to be delivered by a specific deadline. And I’d sit there and I’d listen to everybody’s updates, and I think there’s no way we’re gonna hit the deadline. And I’d but then I’d sit there and I think, but why is nobody else seeing this? And then I’d question myself because I didn’t realize I was highly sensitive and could do this at the time. And so I’d always I’d end up just not saying anything and keeping quiet and then kicking myself when, of course, the project didn’t you reach, you know, wasn’t delivered by the deadline.

Nina Khoo [00:23:04]:

So I think it’s this ability to notice bits of information, whatever it is that other people don’t seem to notice and then relate that all to the big picture. It’s these abilities are absolutely incredible. And I really think that if sensitive people stepped into positions of leadership, we would have much better corporate cultures, they wouldn’t be toxic. They wouldn’t be it would the you know, there’s so many people that I’ve spoken to who have who have left the corporate world because they’ve either burnt out or it’s been toxic or they’ve just not been appreciated. And so I really think that needs to start changing. We need to have more sensitive people in government making policy decisions. We need sensitive people, you know, at the top of education. We need sensitive leaders throughout, I think, who really, really care and bring some compassion and empathy and depth of processing into the decisions that they’re making.

Nina Khoo [00:24:03]:

I really, really believe that.

David Hall [00:24:05]:

Yeah. Absolutely. And, definitely, this is a myth that we commonly busted. You know, we’re like we’re talking about is that highly sensitive people and introverts can make amazing leaders. It’s just the approach you take it might be a little different. You might take a different approach and use your strengths as we’re talking about, but also honor your needs. What are some of the stereotypes that sensitive leaders are fighting against.

Nina Khoo [00:24:33]:

Well, I think it’s probably you know, there is this because we see sensitivity as a weakness. We probably think that sense you know, sensitive people can’t be leaders because they’ll just be overwhelmed the whole time, but that’s ridiculous. Because if you learn how to manage your energy and you learn how to notice when you’re going into overwhelm and do things to stop that happening, that’s something you can definitely overcome. And also that sensitive people aren’t strong. You know? If we if we’re equating sensitivity as a weakness, then it follows that we don’t think of sensitivity or sensitive people as being strong. And I think that’s it’s definitely a myth. I think some of the strongest people I know are sensitive. It is so possible to be sensitive I’m powerful.

Nina Khoo [00:25:21]:

And I find that intersection really exciting.

David Hall [00:25:25]:

Yep. Just like, this podcast, quiet and strong. So. Yep. Absolutely could be strong. How do you help your clients find their strengths when they might not be aware of them yet as leaders and help them build confidence?

Nina Khoo [00:25:39]:

So I have a program which I’ve put together that is really everything that I’ve learned along my journey, as a sensitive person that has helped me. And so the first step in that program is appreciate accepting that you’re highly sensitive, understanding that you’re wired differently, that our physiology is different as a highly sensitive person. So we really understand what it means to be highly sensitive. We accept that we’re highly sensitive and really start to appreciate the strengths that it gives us. So that’s yeah. That sorry. I forgot your question now.

David Hall [00:26:20]:

Yeah. So how do you help them identify their specific Strengths that they can bring into leadership.

Nina Khoo [00:26:26]:

Yeah. So I think once we start to understand, you know, how we are wired as a sensitive person and how that shows up for us. And we start to understand that okay. So these are the things that I do that I take for granted, but actually that’s part of being highly sensitive. And these are the challenges I might have. So once you start to understand your trait, then you have a better idea of what your strengths are, and you’re more able to live more fully in your strengths while managing the challenges. And so I think yeah. For me, it comes from accepting and appreciating our sensitivity and really understanding it.

Nina Khoo [00:27:12]:

And then that’s when you start to really appreciate. Okay. I can do these things because I’m highly sensitive.

David Hall [00:27:20]:

And then how can those that you’re working with build their confidence if they don’t have if it’s lacking?

Nina Khoo [00:27:27]:

No. I think that comes with time, that comes with working closely with somebody who really sees sensitivity as a strength who can really hold and nurture you. And, also, I really believe that if you’re not confident as a person, when you are in a community of other highly sensitive people who are very much like you, you start to become you know, what you do, the way you feel is validated. So you start to understand. Okay. So I’m doing this because I’m highly sensitive, and it’s not just me. There’s other people who do things the same way, who have similar needs to me, who have similar challenges and similar strengths to me. And so this, I think there’s definitely strength in the community.

Nina Khoo [00:28:17]:

And once you start to be in a community of nurturing sensitive people that helps really build your confidence as well. And it’s also just having people believe in you and point out your amazing gifts. And point out that, okay, you can do x, y, and zed, and you can do that because of who you are and because of your sensitivity. And, actually, that’s a really amazing thing. So it’s really having people that believe in you and will support and encourage you. That really helps build your confidence.

David Hall [00:28:52]:

Yeah. And then you’ve mentioned, you know, sometimes being highly sensitive, you can get overwhelmed. So what does that leader do when, when, when overwhelm is setting in?

Nina Khoo [00:29:03]:

So I think, again, it really helps to have somebody there, either a sounding board. So I think that’s why coaches are so valuable. It really helps to have somebody that really knows you and that you trust so that you can talk to them and sort of just decompress and offload with them, have a vent if you need to vent or have somebody remind you. Okay. Look. Watch the signs. I think you might be taking on too much sure, you know, you’re going into overwhelm or who can remind you. Okay.

Nina Khoo [00:29:35]:

So maybe you need to take a bit of time out for yourself, or maybe you need to go for a walk, or maybe you need to go for a weekend away by yourself. So it’s definitely having people around you that you know and trust that can help and support you. Because I think all highly sensitive leaders need support we need support in our leadership. And that’s, you know, there’s nothing wrong with looking for support. I think everybody needs good support.

David Hall [00:30:05]:

And kind of related to that, we also as highly sensitive people or maybe introverts you might tend to, overthink things, more often than not. How what’s some strategies to deal with, overthinking?

Nina Khoo [00:30:22]:

That that’s an interesting thing, isn’t it? I like like to think of, you know, every yeah. Of course. We do have this amazing brain that likes to think and process deeply. So I like to reframe overthinking to, you know, I’m thinking deeply. But, yes, it can sometimes feel like your head’s a volcano about to explode or that, like, there’s a swarm of angry bees in there because of all the thoughts buzzing around. So I’ve actually I actually ran a master class on this recently, and I taught the people on the master class 2 very simple techniques. And one of them comes from a beautiful process called embracing. And it’s basically just the beginning of the process where you start to breathe and get yourself into a a coherent pattern of breathing.

Nina Khoo [00:31:14]:

So you breathe in for a count of 6, and you breathe out for a count of 6. And while you’re doing this, you imagine a sine wave. And so you imagine yourself breathing a ball up one side of the sine wave for a count of 6 and then down the other side side for a count of 6. And you do this for a few minutes, and this really helps to calm down your nervous system. And as your nervous system calms, then your thoughts will start to calm as well, and the overthinking will abate. So that’s one beautiful way of doing it. The other way that I personally stop myself overthinking or if I feel I’m going into overthinking, I do this. I dance near.

Nina Khoo [00:31:59]:

So there’s a form of dance called near, which is a combination of the dance arts, the martial arts and the healing arts, and it’s this really beautiful mind, body, spirit, emotion work out, really. And so there’s ways and different exercises in near that we can do to help with the overthinking, to drop out of that busy brain into your body. Because I think that’s part of the problem. We’re so busy in our heads with this incredible supercomputer in our heads that we forget that we have bodies, and it’s really important then to reconnect to our body. So even just something as simple as taking your shoes and socks off and walking, grounding yourself, sending your energy down into your feet, noticing any sensations in your body, that really just starts to get you to stop overthinking and connect with your body. And that’s really, really valuable and so simple to do.

David Hall [00:33:04]:

How often do you do that as more of a preventative measure?

Nina Khoo [00:33:08]:

A preventative measure for overthinking? Yeah. So I think, for me, it’s dancing near because that’s sort of a an ongoing practice, which helps me really get more into my body and have a somatic experience as well. So something like that, dancing, spending time in nature is so important. Having pets actually is great. It’s really hard to overthink when you’re, you know, stroking your cat or your dog. I I know a lot of people do wild swimming, and that’s meant to be incredible for your mindset. I personally haven’t done very much of that. I was brought up in the tropics, so warm water is sort of my love.

Nina Khoo [00:33:54]:

Yeah, having cold dips is probably a good thing. So, yes, there’s many things that you can do to re you know, reconnecting with nature and to there’s something bigger, something beyond yourself, I think, helps us really get out of our busy minds I’m tuning into everything else. And, also, you know, we talked about intuition earlier. It’s about learning to drop into your intuition. So when you find your brain is going like the clappers, it’s like really breathing in to your belly I’m dropping into your intuition wherever in your body you feel it. And then, yeah, it’s a process of going down and in as I was living in your head. You

David Hall [00:34:39]:

know, we’ve talked about that highly sensitive people and introverts can be amazing leaders. Something that I’ve found as a leader is I did have to get my time management productivity practices correct. You know, I had to get them to where I was meeting all my needs, also giving myself time to use my strengths, use my strengths of thinking, But also giving myself that downtime that I needed at certain times. How do you help highly sensitive leaders, you know, develop their productivity strategy?

Nina Khoo [00:35:12]:

That’s that’s a very interesting question because it’s actually something I’m grappling with personally myself. And until I can do it for myself, it’s very hard to teach other or, you know, nurture and encourage other people to do it. But I think it is very much about being conscious that we have a need to take time out, not to over schedule. I get very stressed when I look at my diary and it’s full. So it’s really it’s about, again, the boundaries come in. It’s like learning. Okay. I need to really consciously create space in my week and not to over schedule.

Nina Khoo [00:35:51]:

And it’s it’s always a balance between wanting to people please and say yes to do things and also actually to preserve time and space for yourself. So I need to I need to personally be stricter with myself and more boundaried about having certain times to myself during the week I used to be very good. I used to always have Fridays when I used to dance. I’d spend time with friends. You know, that would be my day where I didn’t work. Then I had a lovely long weekend. But as I’ve become busier, that sort of crept into, you know, work time on Fridays as well. But, yeah, I mean, it’s it’s a work in progress for me, but I think it is.

Nina Khoo [00:36:33]:

It’s just about being conscious. And sometimes it helps to have somebody else remind you to say, you know, to okay. That your diary’s looking a bit busy. Let’s let’s create a bit of downtime in there.

David Hall [00:36:49]:

Yeah. Have someone like that and not the opposite. Like someone, you know, asking you to do more things because there’s only so much we can do. We really have to prioritize what what is most important and so that we can have that downtime and it’s not always downtime. Sometimes it’s it’s it’s time, that time alone to be productive, you know, that that we also need it’s it’s not just about recharging. Recharging is very important, but we also just need time to think and plan and be creative.

Nina Khoo [00:37:19]:

Yeah, absolutely. Give give ourselves the time to think and daydream as well and come up with great ideas. Yeah.

David Hall [00:37:28]:

Yeah, daydream. I I I love that word. That’s important. And sometimes, you know, someone might catch you daydreaming and you’re not doing anything. And, no, I’m actually doing some work here.

Nina Khoo [00:37:39]:

Yeah. I’m visioning a future.

David Hall [00:37:42]:

Right. Nina, this conversation has gone by very fast. Is there anything else you wanna talk about in being a sensitive leader, especially a sensitive women women leader?

Nina Khoo [00:37:52]:

I think it’s really just to encourage sensitive women to step into leadership. Because I think for many sensitive women, especially, you know, we’re so we’re so prone to people pleasing. We’re so prone to becoming overwhelmed and thinking I couldn’t possibly lead because I can’t cope. It would be too much. But it’s really understanding that you can manage your overwhelm, that, you know, your sensitivity is a huge gift, but also I think sensitive people at this time, at this moment in time, almost have a duty to step up and make our voices heard. I know doctor Elaine Aron again says that sense people tend to be the wonderful royal advisers where we’d sort of stand behind the warrior kings and advise them by whispering in their ears. That I think we need to go a step further now. I think the world is in a state that we need to step forward, tell people what it is we’re seeing because I’m sure not everybody is seeing the things that we see, and really put ourselves forward, you know, be willing to step up and be visible, make ourselves vulnerable because the world really needs that.

Nina Khoo [00:39:09]:

The future generations, our children and our children’s children really need us to do that now.

David Hall [00:39:16]:

Very well said, Nina. Thank you. And so, of course, where can people find out more about you and the great work you’re doing?

Nina Khoo [00:39:23]:

So they can look me up on LinkedIn, Nina Koo, Niinaku Coaching on Facebook. I have a website, which is just, and I have a wonderful the quiz on there, I call it my sensitive leadership assessment tool that you can take. It’s quick and easy, and it helps you see where you where currently sit on the sensitive leadership scale.

David Hall [00:39:45]:

I will put all that in the show notes. Thanks again. This has been a wonderful conversation.

Nina Khoo [00:39:50]:

Thank you so much. It’s been such a pleasure talking to you, David.

David Hall [00:39:53]:

Thank you so much for joining me. I look forward to further connecting with you. Reach out at or check out the quiet and website, which includes blog posts, Links to social media and other items. Send me topics or guests you would like to see on the show. If you’re interested in getting to know yourself better, there’s now a free Typefinder personality assessment on the Quiet and Strong website. This free assessment will give you a brief report, including the 4 letter Myers Briggs code. I’ll add a link to the show notes. There’s so many great things about being an introvert, so we need those to be understood.

David Hall [00:40:32]:

Get to know your introverted strengths and needs and be strong.

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