When petting our cat, sometimes I think—Am I petting this cat too hard? I don't want to pet my cat too hard (or too soft)—And then it strikes me I am petting her with the right stiffness. Why?
Because a cat lets you know how hard to pet her by the hardness with which she pushes back on you. If you pet her too soft, she presses into your hand harder. If you pet her too hard, she shies away. Then she comes back, presses into my hand, and I pet her the right way
A cat lets you know how hard to pet. People are the same. We respond to what you're saying and how you say it. We let you know how hard to pet. The question is, are you listening to us?