When Elder Bednar, an LDS apostle, makes invitations, they are universally unoffensive because he lovingly validates the efforts currently being made, and he also takes the time to clarify his message, thereby eliminating any perceived subtext.
My Bad Experience: I gave my manager a handful of iPad styluses to offer as gifts to employees on our team in recognition of a specific good job they do. As I walked away, it never occurred to me that my gesture might have be viewed jab. I didn’t consider until later was that my gesture could have carried with it this unspoken message, “You don’t recognize the great work our team does frequently enough. Let me get you started since you’re so obviously bad at it…”
Good Example: I could have avoided that potentially offense gesture by taking a page from Elder Bednar’s metaphorical book. He spoke to our entire department earlier this week about regarding a department re-organization. Our managing director asked him what his vision was for our new department. In reply, he prefaced his statement by validating the good work that we already do. Then he said, “now we need to do it better.”
Moral: In relation to how others perform their work, validate what good work they have done, or are already doing, beforehand. Be genuine. If you don’t know what they have done, recognize that. If they are not doing a good job, be kind about it.
Bottom line: Avoid unnecessary hurt feelings due to subtext.