Dealing with people who get easily offended
It seems like we have to walk on egg shells every time we are around them.
So someone got offended with your words…now what? Should you immediately apologise? Or do you just ignore them? It can even get ironic when you point out how they are easily offended and they say: “But I am easy-going! How dare you say I am not! You don’t know anything about me!”
Yes, it gets very difficult to deal with people who are easily offended. It is even more stressful when such people are your close friends.
They are the kind that get worked up about their interpretation (or misinterpretation) of a phrase (or even one word) in a sentence or tweet you made, and that sets them off like a fire in an ammunition warehouse.
So how do we deal with people like them?
Firstly, I would recommend taking three very deep breaths before reacting. This will calm you down and help you process what you are about to say. Any reply you make without calming down will be emotionally charged and put their defences up.
Personally, I had to limit my interaction with some of my friends. When I realized how easily they got offended, I felt that there is no point being around them as I have to always walk on eggshells.
For situations with overly-sensitive strangers (especially online), simply decide whether it is worth talking with them. If you decide to confront them, do so without being too emotional and belligerent.
However, while in a situation that requires an important and technically correct decision, remember that the facts trump the opinions. If the offended person is offering to solve a problem with an opinion, that person merely wishes to oppose the facts because they cannot prove their reasoning.
In a group-work scenario, if they take offense to other ideas, it is their problem, not yours. If you are already trying not to antagonize someone, you cannot be held responsible for that person’s behaviour.
Complicated people are part of life. We can choose to avoid them, but this cannot happen often and is not healthy anyway.
As the acclaimed author, Radhanath Swami, once said: “Humble people don’t get offended easily.” So if they do get upset, it is probably not their feelings that got hurt, but their ego.