The key ingredient of empathy is presence: we are wholy present with the other party and what they're experiencing.
Put your attention on what's going on with them and increase the likelihood of your not taking the message personally.
What is he needing that he's not getting?
Focus on what he needs, not what he's thinking. You'll find people to be less threatening if you hear what they need rather than what they're thinking about you.
Focus on what they're needing and ask "are you unhappy because you need…"
When paraphrasing, ask for the speakers reality, not simply for information.
Thank you once again, Marshall Rosenberg PhD and NonViolent Communication