At work, one of the things I’ve become known for is a saying I believe in, which is more or less translated into: “It’s all in the way you say it”.
This holds when you’re having a normal discussion with someone, passing on important information, joking with a person, telling someone about something they did wrong, asking for something, … anything; I believe it’s all in the way you say what you have to say.
This is not about sugar-coating things you have to say, it’s just about knowing how to say a certain thing to a certain someone at a certain time in a certain place in a certain mood for that person to fully accept what you have to say and react to it the way you want.
So, really when you need to say something to someone, you have to take all the different factors into consideration:
The message: what is it you really want to say? what’s the message you need to get across? how does it have to be said for full effect?
The person: what is this person like? what type of personality? what things should be avoided not to push their bad buttons?
The time: Obviously, not every time is the right time to talk about something, this should be taken into consideration. It has to be a good time for both you and the person you’re talking to; not always perfect, good can do sometimes.
The place: Where you are plays an important role in what kinds of issues you can talk about and how you talk about them.
The mood: the mood you’re in, the mood the person you want to talk to is in, the mood of the whole environment around you, all that dictates whether you can talk about a certain thing or not and how effective it would be if you talked about it.
So really it’s not just the way you say something, it’s about intelligently finding the best way to say it, taking into consideration all the different factors of the moment.