In mathematics, when two negative numbers are multitelplied together, a positive product results.
Quite similarly, when my roommate, Brad, goes into one of his schizophrenic (just my lay opinion, not diagnosed) fugues, it is my wont to tell him,"Shut up, Old man. "
When anyone else tells him to hush up or even be quiet, he gets very put out.
Telling him to shut up is an insult, a negative (-) comment, as is calling him an old man (I'm ~20 years younger than him). I knew that from the start. I juxtapose the two phrases to soften, mititigate, and diffuse the impact of my rhetoric. I always say it with a smile on my face and always get a chuckle in response. And half the.time, that's the intended effect, the other half of the time, I really do want him to shut up. Either way, it still works. When you have a hammer, the world seems full of nails
Sure, I could be very polite and deferential, but then that would be tantamount to lying, because it's just not in my nature. As one of my other roommates wryly tells me, "you've got jokes for days."
I suppose I use humor as a defense mechanism, a tool in my arsenal; and, oh what a pluripotent tool it is.