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Dealing with insensitive people

Dealing with insensitive people

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We’re all human, which generally means we all come with emotional baggage. However, everyone’s life experiences are different and as such, we don’t all carry the same baggage around with us. This often leads to a lack of empathy and understanding of other people’s situations. While the majority of people are insightful enough to realise this, others aren’t quite so perceptive – or blatantly just don’t care. If you have someone in your life that is bringing you down through insensitivity how should you deal with it?

Figure out the reasons behind it

Is this person lacking in social skills or is she being purposefully insensitive to get a reaction? Are there underlying reasons, such as family issues, why she might be behaving in this way? Once you have the answers to these questions, you’ll have a better idea of how to move forward.


Sometimes people genuinely don’t realise that what they’re saying is offensive or hurtful to someone else. They may be trying to offer well meaning but cack-handed advice or don’t realise that the person they’re speaking to has personal experience of the topic. In this case, the best way to react is to try and educate them. Without being patronising or lecturing them, explain how the topic affects people and why what they are saying is upsetting. In doing this, you’ll help the person in question learn to think before speaking and increase the sensitivity they show towards those around them.

Change the subject

Dealing with insensitive peopleWhile it doesn’t challenge the other person, changing the subject can be a quick and effective way to get someone to stop talking without being offensive. If you know someone is likely to make insensitive comments then try to stick to light topics such as television, sport or music. That way the opportunities for distasteful comments will be greatly reduced.


If you’re dealing with a situation and someone is bringing you down by being insensitive, then it’s important to seek out support from those around you. This is particularly true if the person is a family member or colleague that you can’t easily avoid. The support of your partner, friends or family members really can make all the difference.

Know it’s them not you

You may begin to feel like perhaps you’re being a little too over-sensitive but that’s probably not true. Ask other people for an objective opinion and they’ll likely reassure you that the problem lies with the other person. Recognise that there’s only so much you can do to change someone else’s outlook. If you’ve tried to tell someone that her comments are hurtful and she continues to be insensitive then she’s being deliberately obtuse. Try not to take it personally.




About Maria Brett

About Maria Brett

Maria is a freelance writer with over 10 years' experience producing content for a variety of publications and websites. When not working or looking after her two gorgeous sons, she can usually be found playing flugelhorn in a brass band, helping out at her local hospital radio station, shouting at the television while watching Formula 1, at the cinema or plonked on the couch with a cold glass of wine.

Website: Maria Brett

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