Immediately assume the attitude of taking it the right way.
Certain elements of conversation are impossible. Certain things can't be said.
Things such as:
what makes you think that I care what you think?
That's too many thinks.
And retorts get confused by awkward language. They lose their mojo.
Less words. Always good as a rule.
For that matter, less twenty dollar words.
Sometimes the five dollar word is more effective.
Sometimes someone must tell another person bad news about something they have done.
Ok. No problem.
How does the recipient of the bad news get it across (to the messenger) that they are ok with this?
Because anything the recipient says in that respect will seem defensive.
So the recipient says nothing.
But there's the nagging question of why exactly did the messenger make such a production of breaking such news (to me) so gently?
Wasn't it a bit contrived (the kid glove handling of one who is clearly already a well adjusted recipient of so much bad news)?
Had the recipient ever given the messenger any reason to feel that they couldn't simply, unemotionally inform the recipient of ANY bad news?
And as I write this I realize that there's an episode of Seinfeld about this.
One time I mistakenly wandered into a website that was designed to teach kids strategies for defusing potentially violent situations with words (complete with colorful graphics).
It listed every possible insult one might endure.
When I clicked on an insult, a matrix of non-escalating responses would open up.
The person who designed the website had considered the myriad of ways these conversations could go.
The responses were designed to unravel hatred via mild confusion.
So that the response to:
"..hey nice Kmart t-shirt.!"
"..thank you, it's 3pm.."
This led to googling verbal self-defense.
Millions of things popped up.
Just as I suspected.