Sensitivity training has settled comfortably in as the solution for when a co-worker, college student, or celebrity says something that may offend the easily offended.
There has always been an element of watching what one says in public. That’s how things like class and decorum were determined. But as we’ve given more weight to the politically correct, watching what one says is becoming not only a full-time job, but also quite a guessing game.
There’s no way to know who will find what offensive. And the scales of society have tipped to give weight to the offended.
Perhaps we should flip the scales back. Perhaps we shouldn’t focus on sensitivity training for the speaker.
We should create offended training for the listener.
When someone hears something that offends them, we send them to offended training to learn how to grow a thick skin and focus on what’s important.
As long as there’s free speech, people are going to share thoughts, words, and ideas that they may find offensive. And because people can control what offends them and when they’re offended, the power lies with the listener.
It’s time to give power back to the speaker. Speaking one’s mind is already a tall order because many people aren’t comfortable sharing their true thoughts. It’s often difficult to get someone to say what they really think. Knowing there’s a possible punishment in store has made this worse.
We need to encourage people to speak their minds. This is how true societal change comes about.
If someone says something truly racist, it’s only by them saying it that we get the opportunity to address it in a productive way.
Conversely, when someone says something deemed racist, questioning the speaker may reveal that it wasn’t intended as racist at all.
Conversations give us all an opportunity dig deeper, understand further, and clear up misunderstandings. It also gives us a chance to change one’s mind or heart.
If more people learned how to hear things without being offended, we’d bridge many more gaps and have the kinds of conversations that make us better as a people and as a country.
Time to end sensitivity training. Offended training is the real solution.