18 Things You Can Say to Someone Who Thinks You’re “Too Sensitive”

Being told you’re “too sensitive” can be hurtful and an easy way for someone to dismiss your strong feelings or avoid taking responsibility for their actions. Luckily, there are a few choice phrases you can use in response—here are 18 things you can say to someone who calls you too emotional instead of accepting and acknowledging your feelings.

“I prefer the term ’emotionally aware.'”

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Science Direct claims that emotionally intelligent people aren’t necessarily sentimental. Reframe the conversation by offering an alternative, positive description of your more empathetic nature. This will help turn your perceived weakness into a valuable trait, which has been proven to improve leadership abilities and social skills.

“Everyone experiences emotions differently.”

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Try reminding a less sensitive person that an emotional response that seems strong to them is just how you experience things. There’s no right or wrong way to feel! Research by the NIH suggests emotional sensitivity is influenced by several interplaying biological and environmental factors, including a specific gene associated with reactivity.

“My sensitivity allows me to make real connections.”

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Studies show that emotionally sensitive individuals tend to be more compassionate, altruistic, and responsive to the needs of others. Highlight the benefits of sensitivity by explaining how deeply you bond with others and how lasting and meaningful your friendships are.

“Being sensitive takes courage.”

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Being called “too” sensitive implies that emotional reactivity is a negative trait. Explain that it simply means you have strong emotions and aren’t afraid to express them—which is actually the opposite of weakness! Plus, emotional expression is a natural and healthy coping mechanism for dealing with stress and difficult situations, improving your mental well-being.

“I would appreciate it if you could be more mindful of your words.”

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Politely requesting that the person refrain from using hurtful and dismissive language is a dignified and effective response to the ‘too sensitive’ label. Science has proven that using dismissive language about someone’s emotions can negatively impact that person’s mental health, so make sure you set boundaries and defend your right to feel the way you do.

“Do you even understand what triggered my emotions?”

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People who lack empathy struggle to see alternative perspectives, so you may need to carefully explain exactly what aspect of a situation, behavior, or conversation sparked your emotional response. Invite the person to put themselves in your shoes and consider the event from your side—they don’t need to share your feelings to acknowledge why you had them.

“I won’t apologize for feeling emotions.”

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While expressing that you’re working on managing your emotions in healthy ways can be a good idea, never apologize for a genuine emotional response—only actions or words require apologies. If you say you’re sorry, it reinforces the idea that your sensitivity is a fault rather than a natural expression of feeling.

“Please rephrase what you just said in a more respectful way.”

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According to Sensitive Refuge, using the phrase “too sensitive” is offensive and inflammatory, so try pointing that out. Offer the person an opportunity to rephrase their comment with more consideration, which will allow them to reconsider their words and attitude. If they refuse to use respectful language, the relationship may be more toxic than is healthy for you.

“I’m not asking you to agree with me.”

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There’s a big difference between acknowledging someone’s feelings and personally agreeing with their emotional response. Request that they respect and understand your feelings, but don’t insist they feel what you do at the same intensity. Simply ask them to use respectful language and not judge you for feeling things differently.

“Is this really how you want to treat me?”

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Once you’ve clarified how hurtful such a comment can be, try directly asking if the person intended to be malicious or was just careless with words. Thoughtlessness is forgivable, but intentional cruelty is often unacceptable, so make sure you call out their behavior and question their motives.

“What actually bothered you in that situation?”

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Shift the focus away from your apparently unacceptable emotional response by trying to discover the root cause of the issue, according to the other person. In conflict situations, research suggests that focusing on problem-solving and clear communication is the most effective resolution method, so try ignoring the insult and moving on.

“I’m not responsible for how you feel about my emotions.”

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While it’s perfectly okay that others don’t share your emotions, it’s not your job to deal with their discomfort or lack of understanding. If you’re not demanding that they feel more than they do, they shouldn’t insist that you feel less to appease their awkwardness. Assert that all adults are responsible for managing their own emotional responses.

“If you’re truly interested in understanding me, you will listen.”

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Name-calling and allocating blame aren’t conducive to active listening, so encourage the person to be attentive and absorb what you’re saying before being insulting. Active listening can improve communication, reduce conflict, and strengthen relationships, whether they are romantic, friendly, or familial.

“Sensitivity is a strength, not a weakness.”

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If subtly making this point doesn’t work, try being direct and asserting how beneficial sensitivity can be, allowing heightened levels of compassion and connection. Scientific research confirms that emotional sensitivity is linked to other positive qualities as well, such as creativity, intuition, group problem-solving, and social intelligence.

“Your comment makes me feel like I need to suppress my emotions to fit in.”

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Express that ‘sitting on’ your emotions or ignoring them isn’t a healthy or sustainable way to live; sensitivity is a common trait of successful people that shouldn’t be mocked or condemned. Defend your right to be you and explain that suppressing emotions can lead to depression, anxiety, and even physical illness.

“I’m proud of being a sensitive person.”

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It’s hard to mock or insult an aspect of someone’s personality if they’re genuinely proud of that particular trait. Embrace your true self and accept that there are both positives and negatives to every personality type. This can help the other person see the confidence and self-assurance that come with being comfortable with who you are.

“I may need to distance myself from you.”

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If another person refuses to respect or acknowledge your emotional responses, consider taking time apart or re-evaluating the relationship. Establishing clear boundaries is important, so ensure they understand that there will be consequences for continued insensitivity and dismissive comments.

“Being judgmental says more about you than it does about me.”

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So, they like judging others? Flip the situation around and point out that their inflexible and rigid approach to interacting with others is overly critical and self-obsessed. Remind them that labeling others based on their sensitivity levels negatively reflects on the name-caller rather than the person being labeled.

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