If your experience is similar to mine, you’ve most likely encountered reading situations where the cards drawn are so wildly at variance with the context of the question that you’re hard-pressed to meet your professional obligation of giving your sitters something meaningful to work with. As you strive to salvage your credibility, it can seem entirely too glib to advise them “The cards are telling you something other than what you asked about” and then force the spread to make some kind of sense by steering the narrative down a murky and convoluted path. This can be an exercise in futility for both you and your querent since the latter may have no clue what you’re talking about and can’t see the point in any of it. This can be especially true in “majors-only” readings where every one of the 22 trump cards can be a “heavy hitter” while the question may have been superficial in the extreme. You might be asked “Will my package arrive today?” and you get the Devil, the Tower and Death. What do you say? “Porch pirates will steal it but have a serious accident that will kill them and also destroy your package.” Yikes!
There are several ways to deal with this. One is to pull an additional “clarifier” card for every one that doesn’t fit the individual’s circumstances, a time-honored technique that many tarot writers recommend. I find this to be a rather “pat” way to approach it because it’s taking the easy way out. You can wind up with an ungainly monster of a layout that rebuffs your prowess at wiggling out of interpretive jams. Plus, it just feels dishonest to me and an admission of failure. You could also tell your sitter that the cards are offering psychological rather than practical insights about his or her state of mind: “Relax, you’re being overly anxious about this. It’s only a postal delivery.” Once again, this is not very helpful. You might simply admit defeat, scrap the reading and do another one, perhaps with an alternative spread that is more suitable to its scope and/or with a different deck. You could also remove the trump cards from the deck in advance for routine questions, thus affording a less dramatic perspective in such cases. The best solution of all could lie in even more aggressive “pre-positioning:” ask leading questions that help you avoid these traps before you encounter them. The drawback is that you may learn more about the matter than is seemly when your stated intent is to just let the cards “speak their piece” without undue foreknowledge or prejudgment on your part. I know I want to avoid pushing my assumptions on the sitter in any way.
I have to admit that my tendency is to just tough it out and “read ’em as the lay” (which can often land me in the old card-player’s dilemma: “Read ’em and weep.”) Having a large vocabulary is certainly an advantage in choosing language that lets me finesse my way through overtly negative scenarios without scrubbing them of their cautionary content. However, resorting to equivocation can be all too tempting when the overriding goal is to empower and not frighten the querent. In means walking a fine line between stating the unvarnished truth and offering bland, upbeat assurances intended to soft-peddle an undeniably troubling outlook. You do no favors by being accurate but harsh in your observations, nor by being overly eager to please; either one could wrongly prejudice your sitter in dealing with the situation.