Skip to main content

Imagine this scenario. You are scrolling your Facebook feed, and you come across a post with a negative and inaccurate stereotype about your home state or country. The post was written by a stranger, but in the comments section you see that a friend of yours has chimed in saying “Ain’t that the truth!”

You’re pretty sure your friend meant no harm, and you could just chalk it up to playful banter on social media. You tell yourself, “It’s no big deal.” But then you think, “It’s weird that my friend didn’t defend my home, or even just remain silent.” Then you wonder, “Am I making too big a thing out of this?”

How much energy did you just lose in this process?

I hear a lot of people say “We’re too sensitive in our culture these days! People need to just toughen up.”

I’m not denying that resilience is a positive quality, but let’s look at the idea of “toughen up” in more detail, and how communication, good or bad, affects results.

  • Taking constructive criticism is a helpful skill. We can exercise resilience when someone calls us on our behavior, but that is not equivalent to feeling devalued for who you are.
  • Feeling devalued, especially for who you are, costs energy. Studies show that even the threat of stereotypes affects test scores in schools and the workplace. And for those who say, “Stop being offended over every little thing,” please note that most of the time this energy loss is not conscious. In other words, it is often happening without the person’s knowledge. It has likely happened to you. That lost energy could be applied to more positive, action-oriented goals.
  • When it comes to sensitivity and awareness, power matters. If you are in a position of power, the way you express yourself means more. That doesn’t mean you always have to be gentle or sugar coat things. Quite the contrary. The higher you rise in leadership the more you need to demonstrate clarity, courage, and integrity. But as the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility. Your words and the way you deliver them have the power to cause harm, especially when you have blind spots to the power dynamics in your team or organization. To read my article on compassionate courage, click here:
  • Sensitive people bring unique gifts to the world, as do those with thicker skin. Applying “toughen up” as a blanket piece of advice may cause you to miss out on the empathy, networking skills, and diplomacy that sensitive people have to offer your organization.
  • Being adept with different styles of communication means access to diverse perspectives, which has been linked to positive financial return.

Emotional intelligence is no soft skill – it is a key predictor of success. High EQ allows you to be flexible and creative in your approaches to technical or strategic issues.

To find out how Highroad can help you increase your emotional and cultural quotient, contact us at or 770-936-9209.

Vicki Flier Hudson

Vicki Flier Hudson

Vicki Flier Hudson, Chief Collaboration Officer for Highroad Global Services, Inc. inspires people to leverage the full power of differences. She has helped countless large-sized corporations establish successful operations across the globe and build bridges across cultures, distance, and time.

Leave a Reply