I put together a questionnaire to which 45 highly sensitive people in Denmark responded regarding how they would prefer others to react to them when there is anger in a relationship. I was surprised how many different answers I got. But there were still some recurrent trends.
I have put these into a leaflet for people close to a sensitive or introverted person, which you can see below. It may not be entirely suitable for you, but you may be able to use it as inspiration to create your own personal wish list for how you would like those around you to act when there is irritation or anger between you.
You can print out the leaflet as a poster here
Or read the content of it below.
- Don’t shout because, then, I become shocked and afraid and lose any ability to listen to what you are saying.
- If you express yourself too violently, I will probably forgive you later, but I will be shaken to my core, and my nervous system will probably be affected and out of balance for several days. This even though it ended with a reconciliation, and you may think it was good to clear the air.
- Tell me quietly and calmly what it is that’s making you angry and what you want me to do differently. Then, I will be extremely cooperative, use all my empathy to try to understand you, and all my creativity and imagination to find a solution we both can live with.
- When I am angry, you need to give me time. I need to find my peace of mind – and I may withdraw from you while I find it. You will certainly find out what is wrong, but I need a long time to think it through and formulate what I want to say.
- Please stay calm while I tell you what it is. If you interrupt or react with anger, I will freeze up. And if I feel you are not listening, I won’t be able concentrate to finish. I will lose my thread of thought and my desire and energy to finish what I was saying.
- Know that the situation feels dangerous to me – and I need your understanding.
The idea is not to create a set of commandments for your partner or whoever it might be with whom you have a relationship. You can give it to them as a wish list and use it as a starting point for a discussion about how you each functions best when there is a disagreement or conflict hanging over you. Perhaps you can find a compromise with respect to how you will act toward each other in situations in which irritation or anger arises.