Thursday, September 2, 2010

Emotional/Sensitive vs Insensitive People

I was reading a thread yesterday about "prejudice against emotional/sensitive people".  Of course, both sensitive and insensitive people came flooding to this thread and immediately started arguing about absolutely everything.  I read the whole thing after about a week and this was my post:

"I think sensitive and insensitive people have a hard time communicating because they don't see eye to eye. If you go back and read this thread, you can pick out all the sensitive people because they spend a little time in each post empathizing with eachother and making eachother understand that they feel sorry for them and now how they feel. On the other hand, insensitive people are really only reading what people are saying and trying to dismantle any opinions or arguments that seem illogical to them. If you do that to an insensitive person, they respond by arguing. If you do that to a sensitive person, they tend to take it personally or get defensive in an unproductive way. If you want to disagree with a sensitive person, you have to be a lot more gentle and considerate way. That's just they way I see it. I've been reading though this and those are the patterns I'm seeing. It seems like insensitive people are trying to get a handle on the words that are written because they are more likely to mean what they say the way they say it. Sensitive people are trying to read the emotions/intentions behind the words because they are more likely to use their words to display an emotion.
For example, a few pages ago there was an exchange in which an insensitive person stated that they've come across people who cry a lot and use it to manipulate others. A sensitive person was offended because they read into it that all sensitive people were being put into the same category as only doing it to manipulate people. This was ridiculous to me because I am insensitive. I read only what was written and it was written nowhere that all sensitive people were like that. If that insensitive person tries to argue with the sensitive person about the subject, the sensitive person will feel personally attacked (again?) because they are reading a perceived emotion. They probably feel the other person is angry because they're arguing. Sensitive people are more likely to get angry when they argue or argue because they're angry, so they assume the insensitive person is doing the same thing. Meanwhile, the insensitive person is really only making the situation worse by trying to deal with the sensitive person as if they were insensitive. This is all a bit funny to me (albeit frustrating) because sometimes I'm an insensitive jerk. An insensitive person will understand what I mean by that, while a sensitive person would say, "No, you're not a jerk. Why would you say something mean like that about yourself?" as if it were a bad thing and I have low self-esteem.
Do you see where I'm going with this?
The prejudice, like usual, really only has to do with majority and minority. If I'm in a room full of sensitive people, the prejudice is against me, for being rude or mean, whether or not I actually mean any of what I say or do in that manner. I'm too confrontational and argumentative. If a sensitive person is in a room full of people like me, they are unable to listen to what other people say because they read emotions into it and get upset to quickly."

People seemed to think it was a good explanation of what was going on, so I thought I would post it here for general insight on conflicts in communication between sensitive and insensitive people.

...(Edited to add)  After a conversation with my mom (very sensitive) about this situation, I realized that there is one thing I failed to address.  I realized about half way through our conversation of her getting upset with me and hating everything I said, that she equates being insensitive to being an a**hole.  I would like to submit that these are not the same (although the result may be similar).  After a few remarks that I don't care to repeat, it suddenly dawned on me that, despite my explanation, she was still operating under the assumption that one who is insensitive does not care about other people's feelings.  In other words, insensitive = mean.  This is far from the truth.  As mentioned before, a person who is insensitive simply doesn't read all of the emotions that one who is sensitive reads.  It would be like saying someone who is color blind just has poor taste.  Not necessarily true.  One who is color blind just does not perceive things visually the same way.  Those of us who are insensitive simply do not perceive all of the emotional meanings in the same way that a sensitive person would.  There is no mal intent.  An insensitive person will certainly care if they realize they are upsetting someone.  It's just less likely that they will notice and they are much harder to convince.  They have to be convinced usually with reason and evidence.  Statements like, "Come on, you know what you did/said," or "You know how it feels when someones says/does..." will not get the point across.


  1. This is so accurate omg i am insensitive and i hate myself for that. Arrived late for an exam hours ago. I was all out of breath when i walked in without taking a break, I said the reason why i was late, in which dont seem offending to me. After i finished the test my friends told me that i was so bitchy speaking like that to our professor. That's when i had thoughts of did i really sound mean? Of course i didnt mean it. Ive been thinking of this until now odg i just needed an outlet thanks

  2. I'm a highly sensitive person and dealing with an insensitive's hell most of the time. Thanks for this article. I wish there are more information on this topic. It would be great to have a 'sensitivity switch'.

  3. Being "insensitive" means that one is safe from others' manipulations. Facing the mere truth, people strive for their own well-being. They just look like showing empathy for others' misfortunes.
    Q: How did you become insensitive?
    A: Life taught me to act like one.
    I can answer the question in a different way.
    A': People-others.

    1. Huh...interesting idea but I can't agree. Side note: I haven't seen a self-interview in a long time. :)