Daily Living

Communicating with Sensors – Why You Need to Filter Yourself

The Sensor nervous system is always filtering & processing. When you filter yourself, you reduce the load for the Sensor.

Natalie Howard Natalie Howard
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I was giving a presentation on how to communicate with Sensors, (communication & behaviour is my coaching specialty), when I was asked an excellent question: “Is extraneous information a distraction for a Sensor?”

The Need to Filter

I had explained the need to filter out extraneous information from your communications with a Sensor. This includes:

  • Expressive emotional displays, especially if it is not contextually relevant e.g. in a professional setting
  • Refraining from telling convoluted ‘stories’ rather than just getting to the point
  • Minimising excessive use of emojis / expressive punctation in text can be annoying
  • ‘Overshares’ – getting too personal if you do not have an existing relationship that allows that
  • Moderating your tone, pitch, volume, use of gesture etc in spoken communications.

The reason for this, is that whatever you don’t filter, the Sensor nervous system has to. Given that this is a nervous system that is the most sensitive to everything in the external and internal environment, it is already in constant information processing mode. It is constantly filtering more than many people are even aware of – because this system IS always aware of everything (or believes, and therefore feels, that it is.)

Distraction & Focus

I wasn’t in my max processing speed at the time of the presentation, so this answer came to me later: extraneous information (literal, sensory, social and environmental information) is not a distraction, because the Sensor mind is not really ‘distract-able.’

Distraction implies a shift in focus – something else is being attended to, while the previous thing is not anymore. Following stimulus like butterflies. In my experience, additional information always produces a widening of the focus, an increased awareness – all the information is held in awareness and added to the processing and filtration system. (In contrast to the Crusader mind, for example, which is highly effective at compartmentalising focus, or the Connector mind which shifts focus and follows new stimulus rapidly.)

In balance, this is precisely what the Sensor mind wants – information awareness. However, if that (very delicate) balance goes too far, then the focus is too wide, taking too much in. This sensitive body / mind then needs to activate stress responses to reduce the information intake and narrow the focus. We need to increase our filtration processes to keep up with the information load. Given that we are constantly filtering everything as information, it’s easy to max out on processing, and then activate withdrawal / shut down mechanisms as defence. That’s when we can’t think clearly anymore – not because we are distracted and have ‘forgotten’ what we were focusing on before – we are focusing on far too much and our computer mind finally says ‘no.’

Meaningful Focus

So, the awareness for the Sensor – and working with Sensors – needs to be in assessing what information is most pertinent in deserving attention (and therefore energy). This then determines what information is prioritised when meaning is constructed, or conclusions are drawn and choices are made. It is a case of shifting between the ‘birds eye view’ of all the information to see the whole picture, then narrowing in on the details that are most meaningful and impactful to the system as a whole. You can only know what is most meaningful in detail if you know where it fits in the system, and you can really only know how the system works if you know all the pieces that make it up. At least, this is how a Sensor mind processes and experiences the world.

The Steps

Communications with a Sensor are most effective when they follow this process in shifting focus: wide, narrow, wide.

1. Start broad, with the big picture meaning & purpose of why this is even being discussed.

2. Logically outline all the details – the steps of what, when, where, who and how.

3. Conclude with the clear focus for future direction – the meaningful ramifications.

You need to answer the question in the Sensor’s mind, “What was the point of my investing energy in this entire exchange, and why should I continue to invest more energy in this in the future?” That big picture really needs to be meaningfully motivating for the Sensor mind, otherwise they are likely to conclude that it makes sense to do things on their own, because it is a far more efficient and predictable use of their energy, without the need to filter or factor in anyone else. Sustainable use of energy is a key driver in the Sensor’s independent behaviour patterns.

If a Sensor is giving you their attention, they are giving you their energy – or, so they feel. More accurately, they are expending their energy in processing and filtering you and the infinite load of information you are bringing to them – so it feels like “giving it to you.” Because Sensors store the least amount of energy of all the HealthTypes, we don’t tend to give it lightly. So when we do – realise how meaningful that really is.

The Bird

Remember that the Sensor is like a bird: they start in the sky, swoop down for what they need, then return to the sky. That space of the big picture, the essential meaning or purpose of things, feels like being in the sky for the Sensor. It is peaceful. There is space. We need the details to feel safe to come down to earth, to “know exactly what’s going on,” but we can’t stay there forever. It gets too much, especially if the details are ‘too much’ –  like the point above about “oversharing.” That’s why we need to activate our filtering mechanisms when we are dealing with other people (like standing a bit further away, keeping encounters short, unconsciously holding our bodies tense and still.)

Filtering takes up a lot of our energy, which is why we need you to – please – filter yourselves for us. That will save us energy, which means we can stay around for longer, because we’re feeling comfortable in the space.

But, remember, we can’t ever stay. We always need to return to the sky to feel really settled again – to let our nervous system switch off. It’s not personal, it’s just who we are.

If you’re a Sensor, and need some people to make sense of you, pass this along and let it do the talking.


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