Is Sensitivity a Good or Bad Trait?

“Being sensitive” is an interesting trait because it’s often thought of as positive and yet also often thought of as negative. It is sometimes used to describe someone who is empathetic and can easily tell how others are feeling and how their actions/words affect others. Yet it is also used to describe someone who is too thin-skinned, weak, and prone to become hostile at the slightest provocation. In fact, I recently heard the same person use “being sensitive” as a criticism of one person and a compliment towards another in the same week (she probably didn’t even realize she had done it). It’s interesting, because when I Googled the definition of the word, two of the first synonyms to appear are responsiveness and reactivity.

Responsiveness seems to have an inherently positive connotation to a lot of people. For example, someone who is responsive is bound to be considered caring, responsible, organized, and not afraid to lead. On the contrary, being reactive seems to have an inherently negative connotation. When one is reactive, they are often acting on emotion, without first applying thought, and not altogether in control of themselves, almost explosive.

I think if we all were less sensitive when it comes to our own emotions (which are often fleeting) and our own egoic reactions to situations that come up or things that are said to us, while being more sensitive when it comes to other people’s emotions and reactions to what we do and say to them, this world would be a better place. In doing so, we’d all grow into stronger people who are less swift to anger, less given to making assumptions, and more caring towards each other. In short, let’s all try to practice more responsiveness and less reactivity.