It’s strange how most people oscillate between the two extreme states of sensitivity, seldom settling at an optimum level, somewhere around the middle, within a range favoring sanity. Those two states are – insensitivity and oversensitivity. While insensitive people become a reason for other people’s problems, oversensitive people consistently remain a reason for their own hurt and pain. Alas! While the former is damaging, the latter is equally destructive.
Specifically in profession, oversensitivity of one person affects everyone connected, as there is an interwoven structure with continuous interfacing. But how does oversensitivity change people for worse? Why do people become touchy? Why do people misinterpret? Why do they overreact? Why do they become so difficult to deal with? Well, before we delineate the answers of these questions, watch this video to get the gist of the matter…
Yes, oversensitivity makes you read too much into everything. When we are upset then in people’s actions and reactions, we often look for an excuse to get hurt. In other words, our low self-esteem increases our insecurities to such an extent that we become prone to exaggeration, overreaction or misinterpretation. Well, like for any behavior, the root of this point lies in neuroscience.
If we will look at our brain then we will find that our brain has a ‘set of two’ of an almond-shaped part amygdala. Amygdala is center of emotional memory and of emotions like fear and anger, and is impulsive and reactive. When amygdala gets aroused, our vigilance increases, but there is a side effect as well. Yes, when amygdala is aroused, it makes ‘accidental connections’, making links where there may not be any.
In this state, our brain misinterprets the incoming data. This misinterpretation happens through a rule of generalizing. For instance, if you have seen a snake recently then your brain suddenly becomes more alert even towards those objects which resemble snake even vaguely. Similarly, if we are going through a difficult phase then we begin to see contempt in smiles, taunts in words, indifference in the tone of the voice, offending touch in gestures, and all sorts of such things.
That’s why, when we are going through a difficult phase, if we fail to look at things in a matter-of-fact manner, our bitterness will cast a shadow on our assessment and inferences. As a result, we will be vulnerable to misinterpretation due to oversensitivity. Well, but to appreciate this fact, social & emotional intelligence is needed. This ‘emotional & social intelligence’ is about one’s insight into the design and functioning of human brain, and how they impact people’s behavior and choices.
This coming together of neuroscience and psychology sets the foundation for developing emotional & social intelligence – the skill of managing self and connecting with others. Yes, this all-important skill of all intrapersonal & interpersonal skills can be learnt, practiced and mastered. However, it all begins with some important realizations like…“Oversensitivity makes you read too much into everything”.
Dr. Sandeep Atre
‘Emotional & Social Intelligence’ Expert
Founder – Socialigence
Note: Socialigence (www.socialigence.net) offers self-paced video-based online course on ‘Social & Emotional Intelligence’ with content that has relevance across the globe, and delivery specifically customized according to the work-scenarios in India.