“I’m a bit confused. When we spoke last Tuesday, you suggested that I handle this a different way. I’m open to both approaches, so do you have a preference—or did I misunderstand you?”
Your employee keeps joking about his mistakes and laughs off his inability to improve:
“I’m glad you’re not down on yourself. But really: You can laugh about this now, but after a few more flubs it won’t seem funny anymore. If it happens again I’ll have to write you up, and if you do it again after that I’ll be forced to put you on probation.”
A co-worker whose office is nearby won’t stop complaining about an irrelevant matter:
“I know you’re irritated about this. And I wish I could help, but I can’t. If you’re sure it affects your job, you should talk to your boss. But please stop telling me about it, OK?”
You’re nervous about a job interviewer’s prying questions about your current employer’s strategic plans:
“You want to know my role in the strategic planning process, right? Let me explain my responsibilities without getting into any specifics that might compromise my company.”
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