1. Look at people when they talk to you or you talk to them (show that you’re interested in them by giving them your undivided attention).
2. Listen to them when they speak to you, don’t interrupt, unless they have a problem of being long-winded.
3. Observe non-verbal cues.
- Facial expressions: sad-frown, anger, disappointment, happy-smile, question-look, lonely, fear, serious, etc.
- Gestures of body movement: backs off or keeps distance, nervous movements (plays with something in hand or rubs something or bites nails), arms folded tight around body, legs crossed/uncrossed, walks away when seeing you coming, touches the other person, etc.
- Eyes: little or no eye contact, looks away when you look at them (i.e., hurt or angry, fear or shy or ashamed), tears or blurry-eyed, etc.
4. Verbal cues.
- Tone of voice: high or low pitch or conversational, sighs or grunts, gets quiet suddenly, sharp or soft or gruff or blunt words/answers.
- Vulnerability – open or doesn’t respond/initiate as usual.
5. Ways to be sensitive:
- Put yourself in the person’s shoes/place.
- Don’t joke if they’re serious.
- Ask questions to find out what they’re feeling, seek to understand, and don’t be quick to judge.
- Ask if you can help or do anything for someone if they’re down, burdened, tired, etc.
- In sorrow, just be there, weep with them, or express concern with your arm around their shoulder. Share a similar situation you’ve gone through if appropriate and similar.
- Encourage people when they’re depressed, fearful, burned-out, etc. by writing them a note of encouragement, hugging them, or verbally telling them that you’re praying for them, etc.
- Be around people who are sensitive so you can pick up their sensitivity.
- Be discerning in the timing of any confrontation/correcting that needs to be done. It’s best not done when a person is tired, upset already, burdened down with more serious matters, etc.
6. Know when to push/press a person to do something and when to back off.
7. If you sense a person is not his usual self, ask if anything is wrong, if they want to talk about it, or if you’ve offended him in any way.
8. Tell a person what to say in a difficult or new situation if he is fearful/shy/insecure. Don’t just leave him hanging.
9. Seek to understand where a person is coming from, why he feels the way he does. Probe with gentle questions.
10. Clear up any misunderstanding, hurt feelings, offenses, etc. as soon as possible.
11. Be filled/controlled by the Holy Spirit before you do anything.