Should people learn to be more sensitive to others feelings or should sensitive people learn to toughen up?

I tend to come across this problem very often. I was raised to be tough. My mother would kiss my boo boo like everyone else only afterward she would tell me not to act like a baby and stop crying. A regular theme in my mothers family was "Los hombres no se lloran" which translates to men don't cry. My father was short tempered and had little patience so I couldn't get away with much crying around him either. It's not like he's completely insensitive either. He tells me he loves me and we hug each other often enough. The difference is he also tells me I'm an asshole and sometimes he calls me Beavis(his way of saying Butthead). My mother actually calls me worse things but she has a better vocabulary. I wouldn't even know where to begin with what my friends and I call each other.

I just don't understand why I have to be the one to be careful with what I say. A few years ago I was written up at work for calling a co-worker an asshole. This kind of crap bugs me. That and strict sexual harassment policies. I have two sisters and a mother who I love more than anything who taught me how to respect women so I would never go there.(*note I have never been accused of sexual harassment but I do fear that I might someday say something that would be considered offensive to a woman)

I get tired of tip toeing around peoples feelings and I think people should just learn to toughen up and also lighten up some of us don't like to be serious all the time I like to joke around often.


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That's a fantastic question. I think Stephen Fry and Christopher Hitchens put this fantastically.

The points Stephen Fry make are that the terms respect and offense or the act of taking offense are to be respected. Respect is subjective and just because someone believes they're due respect it does not mean that respect is due. I think many of us give respect where it is not due, such as the long standing taboo of criticising religion which is absolute bullshit. The irrationality is NOT to be respected, in fact it should be disrespected instead. The ideas should be attacked rather than the people for believing in it, although the religious consider their beliefs to be as important to them as a vital organ such as their heart.


Everyone can be offended by anything and everything. Someone can be offended if I swear or like a certain rock band. Someone can be offended if I say I dislike a sport but it doesn't give them a right to hold this offense against me as if I'm some sort of criminal.


It's the old saying people teach their children. 'Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me'. DID EVERYONE SUDDENLY FORGET THIS OVERNIGHT?! It is a wise saying because words are words and you choose to be offended and choose to be sensitive and reactionary to things which are said. If someone says something with which every part of your being disagrees with, you need not pay it any mind. You can simply brush it off for the nonsense that it is and move on. Being insensitive to bullshit and possibly offensive things people say should be in our best interests because taking offense at everything that can possibly be offensive serves no purpose.


It is a choice whether or not to become angry, upset and offended from something someone says. If someone walked up to me and punched me in the face, it would hurt and I would be offended because I have been physically harmed. Whereas if someone makes a racist remark, which I do unfortunately receive (though not for a long time) being in an ethnic minority, I don't choose to become angry or offended because it's merely someone stating their opinion and what they think. Why should I care? 


I definitely agree that people should become more thicked skinned and less sensitive to things which are not worth being sensitive to. People need to toughen up and stop whinging over what others think since it serves no purpose. Crying over a disagreement in point of view is what it is, which is completely nonsensical.

I do think that out of respect for others, you need to temper your language and responses.  You can make a point without using offensive words. 

Certainly the workplace is no place for intemperate language.  This does not mean tucking your tail between your legs and hanging your head. 


All that said, I do think that many people take offense when none is intended.  I taught school until I retired.  I know that I had to be careful not to even compliment someone because it might have been misinterpreted.  Telling a female co-worker that "that's a nice outfit" was an absolute no-no unless you had a close working relationship with the female.

Kasu "You have grown up in an environment where it's normal to "jokingly" say hurtful things to people, but why is that anyone else's problem?" 

Why should it be my problem? I'm the one who has to change my behavior to placate the sensitive. They don't have to do or say anything different for me.

That co-worker is an asshole. My dad calls me an asshole when I'm behaving like one and he calls me Beavis when I do something stupid. The joke is the expression but the expression is born of truth. In my family we bust each others balls because we don't like to bullshit each other.

Are you saying we don't love each other in my family? That is offensive your making me cry now. lol 

We do love each other and I think we love each other more than most Americans. I think its another topic for discussion but I feel Hispanics have a better sense of family then most Americans. We constantly hug each other when we are around each other and I don't go more than a week ever without speaking to my parents or my sisters. I have more cousins then I care to do the math and figure out exactly how many but they are all like brothers and sisters to me.(in spanish the translation for 1st cousin is Primo-Hermano which translated back means cousin-brother that is why what you would call your second cousins we call our nephews and nieces)

I'm generally hesitant to provide my opinion because I put things bluntly and honestly, which I know is bound to bruise some emotions. I wish people would be less sensitive about their ego and more open to criticisms, but unfortunately that is rarely the case. Most people have skin so thin they could succumb to a paper cut.

I completely agree. I've always been the one to state the plain and obvious truth which everyone knows but are too afraid to say and have many times been met with the reaction of "oooooh!". Usually it's stating an opinion or the harsh truth but truth is never REALLY harsh, it's neutral but then discussing what someone's idea of truth is opens up another can of worms.


For some reason we have a culture of not criticising, even if it's constructive criticism or through rational inquiry. I believe we have to power to change this discourse by making criticism more commonplace. I welcome criticism since it gives you a chance to reflect on why you think the way you do and why you are the person you are and to refine yourself and improve.

My advice to you is that if the work situation is to strenuous or hostile that you start an EEOC procedure to ensure your workplace is acceptable for the almost 1/3 of your life that you will be spending there.

The EEOC was intended to make all work places reasonably acceptable to EVERYONE, not just women or minorities.  And minorities in this case could be men in mainly women employed businesses.

And basically you can be yourself as much as being in public anywhere.  Just remember though, the other people have a right not to be stalked, or abused (physically, verbally, or mentally) just as do you.  So, treat it like you are out in public with friends.  Don't antagonize, but still be yourself. 

Learn peoples "buttons" and don't push them, but don't try to live 1/3 of your life as a different person either.

It's context specific. On gaming night with my friends, we trash-talk horribly and call eachother assholes and curse our friends when they play a good hand against us. But that's okay, because we're friends, and we know in that context that "asshole," means "buddy." If one of us really does a dick-move, we all understand the context & know when "asshole" really means "asshole," and whether it was deserved or not.

In public, around strangers, in more formal environments in general, I don't know people well enough to use that kind of language openly. Calling a stranger "asshole," is a confrontation, and that will get people's hackles up. Still, if I see someone being a dick, I'll call them on it.

If someone calls me an asshole, I think about why. Did I do something to merit it? If yes, then they are within their rights to do so, and I better clean up my act. If not, then they are full of shit and I don't have to pay attention to whatever they're yammering about. I don't feel the need to get offended unless someone's actually trying to provoke me. I'm tall & huge & polite, so that doesn't happen often.

So yeah, people need to grow some skin and not get upset about what other people say. If you're not actually being hostile, what's the problem? But still, in a work environment, I'd think the standard threshold for flying expletives should be a little higher than at home.

Frankly, I would say that the "suck it up" mentality is terribly misguded.  It leads to repression which leads to emotional volatility.  People who experience the range of emotions which humanity has evolved end up having healthier minds.  Healthy people just learn how to properly channel those emotions.

The bigger question is "Why should someone suck it up"?  Also what kind of social behavioral patterns does this encourage?  Does it contribute to better lines of communication, less misunderstanding ect?

Men don't cry is completely an imposition of arbitrary gender roles.  What matters is being mentally sound, which has a lot to do with how one channels their defense mechanisms.   Someone could be using very immature defense mechanisms and still not be crying.  The goal of "men don't cry" for example, is to help a person develop good means of dealing with their feelings maturely.  Men don't cry is outdated.  There are more appropriate measures of teaching this that are much more effective these days.  Don't cry is archaic and flawed, because it does not efficiently ensure one will not adopt very immature defense mechanisms.

We have a hyperindividualist society.  But think about it from a collectivist perspective.  The facts are that you benefit from all of the things that participation in a society provides you, including this internet.  The society at large determines the appropriateness of behavioral patterns.  Society ends up being more efficient when misunderstanding occurs less.  In this sense, you need to adapt to the society in which you live unless it requires you to do something unethical.  No matter the inconvenience, you still get more benefit from appropriate participation in society.

Now granted, this does create a slight level of oppression and should for you, but it is unavoidable.  Because society has particular behavioral expectations, you have to measure which of those you can get away with and which of them lead to such confusion as it becomes more inconvenient to not adapt than it is to suffer the inconvenience of adapting.  It simply isn't worth it.

This question has no value without context. It is impossible to say which one of the two choices presented would be the better option when we have no clue as to the context it is being used in.

If you say something to someone that they did not deserve then you need to be more sensitive.

If you say something innocuous and they take offense then they should "toughen up."


But without that context there is no way to even attempt a definitive answer.

It's the context in which a remark is made that is important. In a work environment you need to be careful about what and how you say something. As you get to know people on a more personable level you hopefully develop a sense of what is and is not OK to say. We're all individuals with different backgrounds and sensibilities.


Using bar conversation in an office environment will probably create problems.

You have to know the people and build the relationship. I worked with a lady that when I had ordered equipment she submitted the order and would keep the paperwork in her desk. At time I needed to check status of the order, I would walk in and say "Linda in need to get into your drawers", it was not a problem. Many of the other women  in that office I would have never gone there. You have to pick and choose.

This is also a form of control, be aware and good luck.


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