In another life where we didn’t struggle with being highly sensitive, the title of this post would come as an insult.
But because we’ve known what it’s like to be on the receiving end of people who don’t understand this trait, we remain unbothered.
In fact, we feel inclined to share our thoughts on how to communicate with a highly sensitive person. Because we’re tired of the lack of sensitivity in conversations, constant misunderstanding, and having to end up not being heard.
So here are 5 ways to effectively communicate with a highly sensitive person. According to us.
How to Communicate with a Highly Sensitive Person
1. Speak ‘To’ them, Not ‘At’ Them
When you communicate with a highly sensitive person (HSP), watch the way you speak.
You know that old saying, “it’s not WHAT you say, it’s HOW you say it”? Words matter a lot to an HSP, and how you say those words matters even more.
Highly Sensitive People don’t like to be shouted at. They prefer open and calm conversations about the issue at hand. And they prefer that you speak to them, not at them.
Because the minute you raise your voice is the minute an HSP feels attacked. And when they feel attacked, anything you say or do is taken negatively.
This means you won’t end up communicating the message you intended.
And because an HSP can tell your tone of voice from a mile away, there’s no way around this. So if you love and care for the highly sensitive person in your life, you’ll need to learn how to lower your tone of voice.
2. Avoid Small Talk
Highly Sensitive People hate small talk.
Some can power through it, and even manage to have a successful conversation. But many are those who will do anything to avoid it.
An HSP will fake an illness to avoid attending a party (and go on to feel bad about it).
They’ll say they’re not available for an office retreat or another engagement requiring interaction. And they’ll volunteer to clean up after people, just so they can avoid making small talk.
Because you see;
HSPs are wired to always look for meaning in every little thing in their lives. They look for it in the people they meet, the things they do, the thoughts they have, and the conversations they have. And that’s why they find small talk unbearable.
So if you want to effectively communicate with a highly sensitive person, avoid small talk. Instead, aim for deeper and meaningful conversations.
More about this in our next point.
3. Go for Deep Conversations
As we mentioned in number 2 above, HSPs are always looking for meaning in life. They love to look deeper into things, explore WHY things are the way they are, and find out HOW everything happened the way it did.
So if you’re interested in pursuing a highly sensitive person (romantically), be prepared to answer some deep questions. Especially on the first date. In fact, if you want to get a second date, communicate with a Highly Sensitive Person through deep conversations.
And yes, we know this might go against conventional advice for dating. But remember you’re not trying to date someone in the majority 80%. HSPs make up a minority of 20% of the population, so conventional advice will not do.
Also, deep conversations aren’t meant for dating alone. They’re for every communication you intend to have with a highly sensitive person.
4. If In a Group Setting, Pull Them Aside
Many HSPs are empaths. They absorb other people’s energies and emotions like a sponge. And oftentimes, this becomes a problem as the HSP in question is unable to express themselves fully.
So when in a group setting, the first thing an HSP will do is pick up on everyone’s energies. Be it negative, or positive. They’ll absorb these energies and end up becoming a little bit of each person in the room.
Which means they won’t be representing themselves in whatever conversation you’re going to have. Instead, they’ll be echoing the views and thoughts of other people in the room.
So to effectively communicate with a highly sensitive person, pull them aside and have a one-on-one conversation. Ensure the environment you’re in is calm and quiet, and that they’re as comfortable as they can be.
You May Also Like: 13 Facts about Highly Sensitive people
5. Be as Direct as You Can Kindly Be
If you’re going to beat around the bush, you’re going to have a hard time communicating with a highly sensitive person. Because HSPs prefer when you’re direct in your conversations.
You see, a highly sensitive person has the tendency to overthink, overanalyze, and assign meaning to every little thing you do.
They tear apart every word in a sentence, take in your tone of voice, observe your facial expression, and remember conversations you’ve had in the past. And then they use that to interpret what you say.
Because to an HSP, everything you say is said for a reason. Every conversation you have is a serious conversation. And everything you do is done with a purpose to it. Whether that’s the way you intended it or not.
So if you were trying to be funny, there’s a chance we’re not going to get it.
In fact, you’ll find many HSPs are quite slow when it comes to getting a joke. It’s not because we don’t have a funny bone — trust us, we do.
It’s only that our first thought is to take you seriously.
Because as we mentioned, HSPs try to find meaning in everything happening around them.
So to effectively communicate with a highly sensitive person, be as direct as you can kindly be. And we add kindly because some directness can come out as rude.
In the End
These 5 ways to communicate with a highly sensitive person aren’t cast in stone. They aren’t rules to follow when having a conversation with an HSP. They’re polite recommendations from sensitive people who’ve had a hard time interacting with people.
Not because we have a problem with interaction (or people in general), but because we tend to misunderstand what people say, and people tend to misunderstand what we say. Plus we tend to attach deep meaning to words that weren’t intended to carry any meaning. And so we end up getting hurt in the process.
But what bugs us most in this whole communication thing, is when people refuse to converse with the sensitivity a polite conversation deserves. When people don’t take in other people’s feelings and emotions when speaking. And end up hurting others with their words.
So if you care about not hurting someone with your words, please try and implement these 5 tips. Even when you’re not addressing a highly sensitive person.