There are different kinds of sensitivity. Some people don’t take criticism well and some people can’t eat ice cream, but it doesn’t really matter in the end, does it? As human beings, we survive through communication and in order to communicate effectively, we need to understand the people we are talking to.
Nelson Mandela once said, “If you speak to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you speak to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” I don’t think that needs to be taken literally. If you talk to someone with an understanding of who they are and where they come from, there is a lot less miscommunication. That’s a big issue today, isn’t it? We seem to be constantly misunderstanding each other.
By trying to understand each other before trying to discuss a topic, we could avoid so much conflict. Keep an open mind; the world isn’t all crazy villagers with pitchforks. I think that at some point in our lives, everyone has felt like the world is out to get them, but the fact of the matter is, we’re all just trying to be understood. If you’ve been told that you’re overly sensitive, that’s fine. What isn’t fine is getting defensive and lashing out at people for making an observation that you don’t particularly like. That goes for people that have been told that they’ve hurt someone’s feelings. You don’t get to decide how another person reacts to something you’ve said, but you can control how you respond.
Everyone has led different lives and experienced different hardships, and the easiest way to not offend someone or press their buttons is to try and understand them. It’s not like this is something we have to do as humans. There’s no law that says you have to try to understand the people you deal with every day, but a while back some Middle-Eastern guy with a beard said “Love thy neighbor” and I think loving someone can mean trying to understand them.
I’d like to make it clear that everyone, including people that happen to be particularly sensitive, should try and understand those around them better. As a sensitive person myself, I know how easy it is to interpret every offhand comment as a personal insult, but when I take a step back, I recognize that sometimes people say stupid stuff, phrase their words poorly, or, more often than not, have no idea that they’ve just said something that could hurt my feelings. I have the opportunity to clarify, without getting angry or defensive, what that person meant.
On the other hand, if someone tells you that you’ve said something to upset them, it does not automatically mean that they are calling you the scum of the earth. Take a second, calm yourself and clarify the situation.
What would happen if we just talked to one another, and tried to understand each other? Probably a lot more communication and a lot fewer misunderstandings. The next time you feel like you’ve been hurt, or someone tells you that you’ve hurt them, just take a step back and realize emotions are human and totally normal. Confrontation sucks, but once a misunderstanding is clarified, everything is solved in like ten minutes. What’s the bigger sacrifice? Ten minutes of trying to see through someone else’s perspective, or risking a friendship?