The home of Uncommon Sense: Providing Clarity, Promoting Intelligence

On Sensitivity

A few months ago, I found myself in a Chipotle restaurant. This was in the winter. It was around 9:00 PM when I was finished eating and I was ready to leave. It was dark outside. I had parked my car in a side parking lot that had no lighting at all, so it was even darker over there.

I walked out of the restaurant about 10 seconds after two other middle-aged women had walked out. As I started to walk to my car, I realized that these two women had parked right next to me, as they were heading in that same direction.

When I realized I would ostensibly be following these women, I stopped dead in my tracks and walked back into the restaurant.

Why did I do that?

Because I realized that following two women into a very dark, unlit portion of a remote parking lot may well have been an unsettling experience for them. Even though the women may have heaved a sigh of relief once they saw me get into the car parked next to them, why put them through needless worry or fear? Besides, in today’s crime-ridden realities, one of them may have been armed – an outcome that would not bode well for anyone.

Some might argue that I needlessly inconvenienced myself, inasmuch as I was not guilty of having any evil intentions. I don’t care that I was inconvenienced. It was a minor inconvenience and, although the women will never know it, inconveniencing myself was the right thing to do. Needlessly raising their anxiety levels served no one.

There are some lessons to learn from this: on that one, isolated occasion, I was being sensitive to the needs of others. I wish I could say I operate that way 100% of the time. I do not. As I grow older, however, I am seeing the value of being sensitive to others with greater frequency. And on many occasions, being sensitive to the needs of others may mean inconveniencing oneself, which is usually worth it.

There is plenty of narcissism going around, plenty of single-minded selfishness, lots of dog-eat-dog mentality. A little sacrifice of personal conveniences from time to time in the interest of making other people a bit better off is actually a good thing. It builds character.

Ara Norwood is a multi-faceted and results-oriented professional. Spanning a multiplicity of disciplines including leadership, management, innovation, strategy, service, sales, business ethics, and entrepreneurship. Ara is also a historian, having special expertise on the era of the founding of our republic.
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