After much thought, I think that when it happens, it involves the following:
1. Someone says something. (the text)
2. I fail to grasp any intended subtext (e.g. "pay me a compliment", "ask me for details", "don't challenge me on this").
3. I refuse to hypothesize about possible intended and especially unintended subtexts (e.g. "I'm insecure", "I need attention", "I'm compensating for my childhood", etc. ad absurdum) without some perceived data. I refuse to do so because, to me, this is a breach of the person's privacy, as well as a presumptuous thing to do. This refusal is key.
4. At a loss, and with some exasperation or frustration, I am thrown back to the literal text, sometimes with some force, which finds expression in my response (e.g. impatience, aggressive discourse).
This may have been crystal clear to some of you who've been observing me for some time, but it wasn't to me, and I hope I can develop this into a basis for improvement.
Ahh, Joni Mitchell is so wondrous!