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How to Be More Sensitive for an Emotionally Insensitive Person

How to Be More Sensitive for an Emotionally Insensitive Person

Everything seemed fine at first. You were just having a chat, but then she walked off abruptly and you didn’t know why.

This common problem is often ignored because it’s not very obvious. People’s lips are moving and words are being said, but something is missing.

A lot of the social cues involved in communication are non verbal, so if these cues are not noticed, it can leave the other party feeling like they’re not being heard. Yes, you heard the words, but you didn’t see what they were saying.

Communication Always Goes Beyond Words

Unconscious signals make up most of our communication. Our brains tend to pick up on these signals without any conscious effort on our part.

We can usually feel when something isn’t right, or the mood in a room changes. We’ve probably all been in situations where everything felt right with an intimate partner, then we hit a cold wall.

UCLA research has shown that only 7 percent of communication is based on the actual words we say. As for the rest, 38 percent comes from tone of voice and the remaining 55 percent comes from body language.

The challenge arises for some people who haven’t internalized all of the signals which are being thrown their way. Just like anything in life, some people are naturally better at seeing what is being said.

Others need to train themselves once they become aware of a gap in social sensitivity.

Emotional Intelligence Is the Foundation of Sensitivity

Sensitivity can be learned like any skill. It’s mostly a matter of learning to read other people’s physical cues. Paying attention to empathy is also important. What would you feel in their shoes?

Emotional intelligence is a flexible set of skills that can be acquired and improved with practice. – Dr. Travis Bradberry, Talentsmart.com

This takes a conscious effort to do because it’s easier to not do. In other words, we have to try. Instead of running the same old mental record, it’s important to be conscious of what’s going when observing people.

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    Our emotional intelligence directly affects how sensitive we are to others. It allows us to read social situations, individuals, and even ourselves.

    Understanding Yourself Is the First Step to Understanding Others

    The first step in retraining your mind to be sensitive to others is to understand yourself. It’s shocking to see how many people are unaware of what they’re communicating through non verbal cues.

    Many people who suffer from depression, social anxiety or shyness could improve their own moods by becoming conscious of their body language. The same unconscious signals they’re projecting to others also affect their own moods negatively.

    The way we use body language isn’t just a projection of our feelings, it also affects our feelings.

    To first start becoming self aware, pay attention to the link between your body language and you emotions.

    What happens when you feel insecure socially? For most people, their hands go in their pockets. Many people will fidget. Shallow breathing usually accompanies all of it.

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    Exercise: When you feel a negative or positive emotion, what did your body do reflexively? A smile, clenched fist, tight jaw or staring at the ground will all correlate to your feelings. Pause when you feel a particular emotion and see what your body is doing.

    Becoming self aware will not only help improve your emotional sensitivity, it will also give you the power to change your emotions.

    Observe, Observe, Observe

    Now that you understand something about yourself, start paying attention to others. How do people react to you when you talk about certain subjects?

    I wouldn’t suggest it, but if you’ve ever been at a table when someone brings up politics, the change in mood is easy to see.

    Based on your own self-observations, you’ll be able to tell a lot about other people’s feelings. Is his fist clenched? That probably indicates stress. Hands in her pockets? She might be feeling insecure. If you’ve experienced it, you’ll be able to see it in others. Match your own self observations to the way other people behave.

    If someone is talking, drop your phone. Leave the social media, text, and emails alone in order to give your full attention. Sometimes emotional insensitivity doesn’t mean you can’t read the signals, it’s just that you’re not tuned in.

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    Distractions can have a negative affect on our relationships. I personally won’t even bother talking if someone is looking at their phone. Usually the abrupt silence will get their attention again. Sometimes a friendly reminder is necessary.

    Listen to Understand, Not to Reply

    Just as being distracted will kill communication, waiting to respond will also block true connections. It’s hard to truly understand what someone else is feeling when we’re just waiting to start talking again.

    Try this exercise to develop your listening skills. This is conversational method I call the snowball technique. Not only will you experience deeper levels of communication, you’ll also be able to keep the conversation going. No more awkward silences.[1]

    1. Pay attention – Obvious enough, but this is where many people fail. By paying attention, you’ll learn a number of different facts about people which could all become conversations on their own. This is one reason I call it the snowball technique, because your conversation will grow like a snowball as you continue.
    2. Reword their wording – Whatever they say, take the main point and summarize in your own words back to them. Not only will you show that you’re listening, you’ll also understand better using your chosen words.
    3. Add your opinion on their topic – Now that you’ve rephrased their point, add your opinion. This will keep things conversational so it’s not a question and answer session.
    4. Dig deeper – You have an understanding of his point, now dig deeper. Here’s a real opportunity to learn someone’s true feelings, motivations, and interest. It also creates some vulnerability. That vulnerability builds trust and a deeper sense of connection because we feel connections to those we open up to.
    5. Recall – You might be running dry on one topic, but if you were paying attention you can now recall another point he made earlier, and bring it up. Even better if it relates to the last topic but it’s not necessary. Recalling something he said 5 minutes ago will surprise most people, demonstrating your excellent listening skills and interest in what they were saying.

    Bring Conscious Attention to the Small Signals

    All in all, by bringing conscious attention to social sensitivity, you’ll learn the signals which paint the big picture.

    Start with understanding yourself better, and pay more attention to what people are saying and doing. Then you’re unlikely to run into sensitivity problems again.

    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    More by this author

    Eddy Baller

    Dating & Confidence Coach

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    Last Updated on April 8, 2020

    11 Things Overachievers Do Differently

    11 Things Overachievers Do Differently

    We all know some overachievers: supermoms who manage to get online degrees between cleaning, cooking, and taking kids to practice; students who write 10-page papers when the directions call for 4; managers whose resumes look more like pages from the Guinness book of Records.

    How do they do it all? How is it possible that one person can graduate at the top of their class, found an orphanage in India, run 30k marathons, write a best-selling book, travel all over the world and learn to speak Mandarin Chinese while having a full-time job?

    What’s the secret of an overachiever? Here’re 11 things overachievers do differently that you can learn from.

    1. They Know How to Manage Their Time

    It’s pretty simple actually – you can never become an overachiever if you don’t know how to organize your time efficiently.

    The great thing is that overachievers are ready to share their knowledge and time management talent with the rest of the world. Read The 4-Hour Workweek or The 4-Hour Body by Timothy Ferriss, and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

    2. They Don’t Spend Hours Watching TV or Playing Computer Games

    Mostly because they have better things to do, like exercising, reading, spending an evening with their family or volunteering to work in the local soup kitchen. Their philosophy is simple – the world is full of wonderful things to try, explore and experience. Watching TV is not one of them.

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    3. They Are Obsessed With Perfection

    Imagine Steve Jobs’ work approach and you’ll understand the level of perfection and painfully high standards that overachievers set for themselves and those around them. Often it pays off (especially if they focus on just one domain). But sometimes compulsive over-striving turns into a sure-fire road to disappointments and unfinished tasks.

    Learn how to strike a balance: How Not to Let Perfectionism Secretly Screw You Up

    4. They Know How To Inspire

    Overachievers learn quickly that it is much easier to achieve goals through collaboration (and especially delegation). So they know how to inspire, encourage, persuade and motivate people around them. Even though they often drive their team crazy with their stubbornness and perfectionism, people quickly follow under the spell of their enthusiasm and greater vision.

    Learn these 10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively.

    5. They Set Clear Goals

    The term “overachiever” itself implies that they know how to achieve goals. That is kind of hard to do if your goals are vague, unclear and lack specific deadline, which is why overachievers educate themselves, read goal-setting books, and think about the best way to approach a new task.

    Although, it’s worth mentioning that overachievers usually use their time management and goal-setting skills towards competitive, “I want to kick butt” type of goals rather than self-improvement, mastery goals.

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    Take a look at these tips to help you set clearer goals: What Are SMART Goals (And How to Use Them to Become Successful)

    6. They Are Organized

    It’s hard to imagine a disorganized overachiever, isn’t it? Their great organizational and planning skills usually serve three main purposes: keeping track of time, keeping track of progress and keeping track of achievements.

    This hasn’t been confirmed by scientific research yet, but overachievers might actually get a “runner’s high” from crossing tasks off their to-do lists, and making new to-do lists.

    Here’s How to Organize Your Life: 10 Habits of Really Organized People

    7. They Try to Avoid Failure at All Costs

    Some psychologists believe that overachievers place their self-worth on their competence, driven by an underlying fear of failure. Rather than setting and striving for goals based on a pure desire to achieve, their core motivation becomes avoiding failure. This may explain the fact that overachiever beat themselves up for even little setbacks and seemingly-insignificant mistakes.

    But be aware that having a strong fear of failure can wrek havoc your productivity. So the best thing to do? Learn to conquer the fear: Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Conquer It)

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    8. They Love Awards

    Who doesn’t love them, right? True enough, but unlike most people who like to feel acknowledged and appreciated for their efforts, overachievers are bent on collecting ‘awards’, be it university degrees, spelling bee prizes or unusual destinations.

    While loving awares isn’t bad, it’s even better if you’re driven by internal motivation instead of external ones which could be quite uncontrolable or unstable: Why Is Internal Motivation So Powerful (And How to Find It).

    9. They Don’t Understand the Concept of Work Hours

    Don’t get surprised if you receive a work-related email anywhere between 8 p.m. and midnight. It’s something overachievers usually do and you weren’t the only one. At least 20 more emails have been sent during these hours to other people. The concepts of over-achieving and working overtime usually go hand in hand.

    The downside of this is an imbalnced life, which may need to problems in other aspects of life including health and relationships. A better way is to Achieve a Realistic Work Life Balance.

    10. They Rest

    Overachievers might often be labeled as “workaholics”, because they often ignore bodily signs of hunger, fatigue and even a full bladder, hoping to finish just one last little part. This doesn’t mean that overachievers don’t know how to disconnect and relax.

    True that they tend to work in the highest gear, but they also have enough sense to give themselves time to rest and recharge. Of course, they do it in their own overachieving way, preferring climbing Mount Kilimanjaro or hiking through the Amazon jungle to lazing on the beach.

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    11. Overachievers Continuously Educate Themselves

    A great quality that most overachievers have is the hunger for knowledge. They surround themselves with bright people. They know how to listen, and most importantly, they get tons of mentoring.

    Despite the fact that overachievers want to excel at everything they set their minds on, they are humble enough to admit that to get on top of their game, they need help. And they are willing to pay someone to push, coach and guide them.

    You too can learn How to Create a Habit of Continuous Learning for a Better You.

    More Tips to Help You Achieve Success

    Featured photo credit: Nghia Le via unsplash.com

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