(Source: Island Art Gallery)
The first time I heard this word being discussed was when I attended a leadership seminar in Baguio City when I was in high school. In one of the sessions, we sat on the floor forming a big circle. The group facilitator started the topic on sensitivity as applied in human relations. The other student-participants took turns in discussing their take on the subject, while I kept quiet in my place. I wasn’t just too timid to open my mouth, I also didn’t have any clear idea about the subject matter.
There was this thin and fair girl beside me who was soft-spoken but articulated well her deep understanding of sensitivity. I had listened to her intently, and although I can’t remember now what she said, I knew that she spoke of the subject accurately. I had wondered then why she had learned all about the topic of sensitivity, and I had not. I can’t remember ever learning it in school, or being discussed in our home while growing up.
The memory of that girl articulating about sensitivity stuck in my mind. But as I matured, I realized that God has planted that virtue in my heart and I was compelled to nurture it.
Sensitivity as applied to human relations is defined as “awareness of the needs and emotions of others.” This is rather a short definition but the subject of sensitivity is really deeper and wider in application and touches other moral values including biblical teachings.
Synonyms of sensitivity are:
keenness – exceptional discernment and judgment especially in practical matters; the state or quality of being able to sense slight impressions or differences
perceptiveness – discerning; observant
acuity – keenness of perception
Whereas INSENSITIVE is defined as not responsive or susceptible; lacking feeling or tact. Some of its synonyms are:
callous – feeling no emotion; feeling or showing no sympathy for others
compassionless, hard-hearted, pitiless , ruthless, unfeeling, unsympathetic, unsparing
And the antonyms of insensitive are: compassionate, humane, kindhearted, merciful, sympathetic, tenderhearted, warm – words which describe a person having and practicing sensitivity.
The practice of sensitivity is mostly demonstrated in our speaking. Indeed, it is best excercised in the way we talk and communicate. “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Mat. 12:34). There are many verses in the Bible that teach us to be sensitive to the feelings and needs of others whenever we open our mouths to speak. Here are some of them:
A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous [harsh] words stir up anger. ~ Prov. 15:1
A wholesome tongue is a tree of life… ~ Prov. 15:4
… the words of the pure are pleasant words. ~ Prov. 15:26
Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones. ~ Prov. 16:24
He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit. ~ Prov. 17:27
The words of a man’s mouth are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook. ~ Prov. 18:4
Among the many values that we teach our children while they are still young, the practice of sensitivity must be one of them for it is the precursor to other, bigger things in life, like compassion and charity.
Please do visit the comment section below – I have made some important clarifications. Thank you.
Endnotes: All definitions, synonyms and antonyms are from www.merriam-webster.com