Following a blog drama fiasco, somebody gave me the advice that I should "always talk to people as if they were dying." This definitely would have steered me clear of that particular fiasco, but when I tried it, it failed badly. The conversation went like this:
Giles's Aging Father: "Would you like some tea?"
Giles: "Dammit, you asshole, why didn't you go to the doctor? I told you to go to the doctor!"
Giles's Aging Father: "What?"
Giles: "I'm going to miss you!"
Then I started crying.
Giles's Aging Father: "What's going on?"
Giles: "I'll try to be strong."
Giles's Aging Father: "Are you going through puberty again?"