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The Exhausted Woman
with Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC

10 Worst Things You Can Say to a Highly Sensitive Person

highly sensitive personHighly sensitive people (HSP) are so aware of their surroundings that even the slightest change in mood, tone, or temperature is noted. They have a unique ability to sense the emotions of others, absorb the feelings, empathize deeply, and are keenly aware of how to make things better.

As natural perfectionists, not for the benefit of others but for themselves, they try hard not to make mistakes. They are intense thinkers and feelers, conscientious, easily overwhelmed, hypersensitive to smells and tastes, and need to withdraw to regroup. Many HSPs will say that they literally cannot live without the arts or music.

If you know of someone who fits this profile, there are 10 things which cause an immediate negative reaction in a HSP.

  1. “You need to go faster.” HSPs have a difficult time doing things at a fast pace and reminding them of this will most likely result in them going even slower.
  2. “It’s not that big of a deal.” Because a HSP is highly aware of circumstances, moods, and senses, they can see that something will become a big deal before it is even on the radar of others.
  3. “I know how you feel.” You do not know how they feel. They feel things so intensely compared to others that it is not possible to compare levels of feelings.
  4. “You are too emotional.” They are naturally emotional and the only way to cut back on feelings is for them to completely shut down. This is not productive in the end.
  5. “It doesn’t have to be perfect.” It might not have to be perfect for others, but it does have to be perfect for them. Perfectionism is their way of showing how much they care about something.
  6. “That smell is not that strong.” HSPs are particularly sensitive to perfumes and food smells. When they say a smell is making them gag, it really is. They are not being dramatic.
  7. “Why does it take you so long to eat?” Cooking and eating are events for a HSP. They like to savor their food and sometimes take tiny bits to drag out the process longer.
  8. “Really, you need another break?” Yes, they do. Because they take in more information through their five senses than others, they often need to take a break to decompress.
  9. “You make things more difficult than they need to be.” From the HSP point of view, others oversimplify things that should be thought through more thoroughly.
  10. “You think too much.” They already know that they think too much but are unable to turn off their brain. This is why sleep seems to elude some of them.

Avoiding these phrases with a HSP will dramatically improve your relationship. Words do have meaning for them and they can easily get hurt regardless if the comment was meant in a harsh way.


10 Worst Things You Can Say to a Highly Sensitive Person

Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC

Christine is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor by the State of Florida with over fifteen years of experience in counseling, teaching and ministry.

She works primarily with exhausted women and their families in conflict situations to ensure peaceful resolutions at home and in the workplace. She has blogs, articles, and newsletters designed to assist in meeting your needs.

As author of the award winning book, The Exhausted Woman’s Handbook, Christine is a guest speaker at churches, women’s organizations, and corporations.

You can connect with her at her website Grow with Christine at


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APA Reference
Hammond, C. (2017). 10 Worst Things You Can Say to a Highly Sensitive Person. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 28, 2020, from