At some point in your life, you’re bound to encounter people who get offended easily but what do you do about it? Do you have a friend or family member who always makes a big deal out of even the most minor things?
Do you want to tell that person to calm down and not take things so seriously all the time? Or are you the one who gets offended easily, and you’re wondering how to loosen up and stop being overly sensitive?
Either way, this article is for you. We’ll take a look at why some people find it difficult to tolerate offense, including excessive expectations and deep insecurity, how to approach these people, and what you can do to stop feeling so offended if you’re the one in question.
We’ll also encourage you to consider whether someone is genuinely easily offended by something or whether the things you say are generally inconsiderate and offensive. Read on to take an honest look at the nature of taking offence and whether you’re also guilty of being too easily offended.
Why are some people so easily offended?
Some people are taking offense at anything and everything. There are several reasons for this type of attitude. Some are learned, some come from a complicated past, and others come from a sense of entitlement or narcissism.
Some people feel offended to a greater or lesser degree because of their expectations regarding other people.
They struggle to accept that one person can have completely different beliefs and perspectives than another, and when confronted with that reality, they feel hurt and offended.
Examples of over expectations
Ways of apologizing
For example, if you think that you should be treated and regarded in a particular way, any treatment or regard that is different might make you feel attacked, uncared for, or disrespected.
If you expect someone to beg for your forgiveness after they’ve done something wrong, but they only apologize once and then move, you might assume that they don’t feel sorry for what they did.
However, for that person, one apology is enough, and they genuinely meant it. Expecting an apology from someone who has wronged you is fair, but their way of apologizing may be different from what you want out of an apology.
Consider another example of expectations and taking offence. You might expect your friend to agree with you when you have a confrontation or argument with another person. You expect that your friend should stick up for you and agree with you no matter what.
If their honest belief disagrees with yours and aligns with the beliefs and perspective of another person, then you might be offended when they don’t agree with you.
In this case, you would care more about being sided with than your friend’s genuine beliefs. You might even turn the argument on them and berate them for not taking your side.
At their core, expectations of other people stem from a person’s inability or reluctance to accept other people’s realities.
Instead of listening with curiosity and compassion in an emotionally healthy conversation, the easily offended person expects others to fall in line with their own, often narrow, expectations of how things should be.
People taking offence easily typically suffer from insecurity. Insecurity is what is known as a self-conscious emotion.
Self-conscious emotions reach deep into our insecurities and make us act in self-protective and defensive ways but don’t always serve our highest good.
Insecure attachment is a psychological pattern most commonly found in childhood. It is the tendency to develop relationships with others based on their ability to provide validation, approval and security.
For someone who feels this way, forming close relationships can feel like a hard time due to the need for approval and validation from others.
Examples of insecurity
Insecure people, which could center around their looks, intelligence, abilities, or social status, might easily become offended when others speak or behave in ways that evoke those feelings of insecurity.
Changes in plans
For example, if someone was the last person informed about a change in plans, they might take offense because they’ve called into question their social status.
They don’t realize or accept that someone has to be the last to know and that it’s not always personal.
They probably wouldn’t be too concerned about someone else if that other person was the last person to know and might even call them out for making a big deal about nothing if they brought it up.
Differences in taste
If someone expresses distaste for a style of clothing that the person likes, they might also feel offended.
They don’t rest in the sense of security and confidence about their fashion sense but instead look to others to praise them and tell them they look good, cute, sexy, or handsome.
When these affirmations are not given, or someone (especially a loved one) dislikes what they’re wearing, they might feel deeply offended and even go on the attack, calling out that person for ‘flaws’ in their appearance or taste.
Although it can be frustrating when people get offended easily, sometimes ease of offense is a learned behavior, or a survival response learned from a difficult childhood in which the person suffered from a psychologically traumatic experience.
You can never fully know what someone has been through unless they share it with you, which calls for patience and compassion.
Approaching people who get offended easily
Dealing with people with insecure attachment can be challenging and often respond in a passive aggressive manner.
If they’re highly offended, they may be highly sensitive and extremely reactive, making it hard to engage them in a healthy, emotionally mature conversation.
Though it can be challenging to have a healthy conversation, it’s not impossible. These people may need to feel heard and validated before they can calm down and speak about things rationally and maturely.
Resentment is a negative feeling, which arises from the fact that you think you have been treated unfairly.
People hang onto their anger out of resentment because they feel empowered. It festers inside of you and can lead to depression and anxiety — while also making you less able to solve the problems in your life.
Some people are constantly criticizing you for the smallest of things, which is emotionally draining, upsetting, and makes you feel like they don’t like you. You are not at fault, you do not have anything to do with it.
Though it’s not your job to offer that validation and affirmation, doing so can help you reach the person and connect, at which point you can express how you don’t mean to offend them.
What to do if you’re easily offended
If you find yourself having significant reactions to things people say, having bursts of anger, and making people cautious about what they say around you, you might be someone who is easily offended.
There’s nothing wrong with standing up for what you believe in and even feeling upset if someone behaves unfairly or inappropriately toward you, but being overly sensitive is not a helpful personality trait.
Remembering that our friends and family love us is crucial to not taking offense too quickly. They don’t intentionally want to hurt us. Taking some time to figure out what someone meant is a sign of emotional maturity when someone offends you.
For one, it means that you go through a lot of stress, anger, hurt, and disappointment, often more than necessary. If you were not so reactive, you might experience these negative and uncomfortable emotions less frequently.
Secondly, understand that people generally want things to go well and run smoothly in life and relationships with others. As such, if you have significant, dramatic reactions to things unnecessarily, people will begin to walk on eggshells around you.
They’ll become less likely to share how they feel because they don’t want to elicit your offense, which hinders the authenticity within the relationship.
They might feel like they want to talk to you less because they’re worried about offending you and may even stop talking to you altogether. Ultimately, it can leave you feeling emotionally isolated.
Suppose you’re someone who is highly sensitive, but you don’t want to damage your social life, your relationships, and your emotional health and well-being. In that case, the good news is that you can learn to manage your temperament and shift your perspective to stop getting offended so easily. Below you will find some valuable tips to help you feel less offended.
Be honest with yourself
As mentioned earlier, ease of offense may stem from insecurity or fear. Next time you find yourself offended over something someone has said, take a step back and ask yourself why you’re having such a big reaction.
Consider whether the person meant to offend you or if what they said struck a chord and reminded you of something you’re worried or insecure about.
Value truth over ego
If someone makes a claim or statement that offends you because it goes against your beliefs or point of view, you will feel attacked, under threat, and even hurt if you cling too much to that point of view.
You might be identifying too strongly as someone who believes X or Y, rather than allowing for uncertainty and the possibility of other answers and perspectives.
If you value learning, broadening perspectives, questioning everything, and greater truth instead of holding too much to your position and your ego identification, you will find it hard to be offended.
When people say things that counter your point of view, you’ll feel better and grateful for the opportunity to reflect.
If someone presents you with an alternative political, religious, or moral set of ideas and perspectives, you won’t feel personally attacked but rather curious and eager to learn more.
Manage your unrealistic expectations
Suppose you expect people to treat you a certain way. Speak or behave in a way that aligns with your values, and exhibit a certain decorum. You’re bound to be upset and offended when someone inevitably fails to meet your expectations.
Let go of your expectations about how others should be to feel offended less often. If you can let go of most (not necessarily all) of those expectations, then those who do meet your expectation will be a pleasant surprise.
More often than not, being offended is a choice. Sure, some people are extremely rude and inconsiderate, but how much agency do we have in our lives if we let others control our emotions and reactions? It is within your power and choice to not be offended.
People who get offended easily are aware of the fact that they are offended, which means that they pay close attention to how other people behave. An offended person can also be anxious about their relationships and become upset when someone does not meet their expectations.
It takes some time to viscerally understand this, especially if or when someone in your life has been conditioned to believe that others should align with their own values and beliefs, but with practice, you can stop becoming so reactive and learn to detach from how others speak and act.