"In order to understand what another person is saying, you must assume that it is true, and try to imagine what it could be true of."
I have mentioned Miller's Law in that post and Miller's Law in that post. Suzette Hadin Elgin uses Miller's law to good effect in Language Use in Emergency Medicine. She expands upon it in How Verbal Self Defense Works and in Stopping the Pain of Verbal Abuse.
Dale H. Emery expands a bit:
When communications get tangled, a helpful principle for untangling them is Jerry Weinberg's Rule of Three Interpretations: If I can't think of at least three different interpretations of what I received, I haven't thought enough about what it might mean. Before responding to any one meaning, think of at least two other possible meanings.
Also helpful is Miller's Law, which says, "To understand what another person is saying, you have to assume that it is true and try to imagine what it might be true of." To apply Miller's Law, ask yourself, "If what the person said were true, what else would have to be true? Under what circumstances would it be true? In order for me to believe that, what else would I have to believe?" The answers you get are presuppositions — the unstated, but implied, meanings in the message. Identifying the presuppositions helps you to fill in the information that the sender left out of the message.
(he has more to say in an article on resolving resistance)
George Miller formulated the first version of Miller's Law as follows: "In order to understand what another person is saying, you must assume that it is true and try to imagine what it could be true of. (Interview with Elizabeth Hall, Psychology Today, January 1980, pp.38-50 and 97-98)"
There's another Miller's law (from a satisfying list collected by Michael Shermer
Geoffrey Miller's Law of Strange Behavior
To understand any apparently baffling behavior by another human, ask: what status game is this individual playing, to show off which heritable traits, in which mating market?