To give an idea how I read with reversals, here are two examples of simple three-card spreads with reversals. How I read reversals is reflective of my own personal reading style, and as with all of tarot reading, there is no "right" or "wrong" way to read with them.
Ok, so when I read reversals, I keep my mind open to all the various possibilities just as when I read the cards upright. I don't lock myself into one set of meanings for reversed cards any more than I do for upright. Keep in mind, then, that reversals don't always mean a card's negative side is being highlighted. It could mean just the opposite, as you will see in this sample reading.
In this simple, Past/Present/Future three-card reading, the reversed card, the nine of swords, is in the Past position. The center card tells us what the issue is about. Three of Cups may inform of a get together with close friends or relationships with sisters or other women friends.
Apparently, with the Nine of Swords reversed, the potential for a friendship or group of friends breaking apart was there, but was averted. This card shows a positive result of some hard thinking and less worry and obsession than if the card were upright. The swords become a kind of ladder from which the figure can descend from the heights of anxiety to stand on solid ground. Whatever was the cause of worry in the first place, it did not get out of hand, and it looks like the get together with the friend or friends is now looking very positive. In fact, the future position shows that there will be a new start to things, even possibly a joint venture that will bring tangible reward to this person, maybe a gift of some kind with the Ace of Pentacles in the Future position. Basically this reading is saying there's nothing at all to worry about, everything is not only just fine, it's great.
If the Nine of Swords was upright, I would probably have read the cards very similarly. The only difference is that I can see, with the reversal, that the worry and angst really wasn't that overwhelming and in fact was muted a lot by the positive cards. Upright I might have said, yeah, you were were pretty upset about what might have happened, but you got the right support at the right time to allay your fears and worries. Overall, though, the meaning of the three cards together tell the same story.
Here's an example of reversals in their classic sense:
This Past/Present/Future reading shows all kinds of sticky issues. The King of Swords on his head does not bode well. Kings tend to get nasty when upside down, they don't like it, and usually take it out on others. This King, who is usually level-headed and even-tempered can become incredibly wishy-washy or strike out in cold, calculated spite. His inability to be rational has resulted in a situation that is unsavory: The Devil. Poor decision-making has brought this about, apparently, so now we've got a situation that nobody likes and now wants to get out of, but with the Devil in full swing, I kinda think it's going to take hitting bottom of some sort to do it. This brings us to Judgement reversed. Usually Judgement can indicate that bright turning point where you totally get it and make that profound decision to change something significantly, but with it reversed...well, it looks like the Devil wins this round and that wake up call isn't going to be answered just yet. See, the person involved is just having a bit too much fun or something, is being too self-focused and self-indulgent to make the proper decisions at this time. Judgement reversed could also indicate that Judgement will fall on his or her head as a direct result of their indulgence and it's not going to be pretty. That was an unpleasant reading, wasn't it?
A very similar reading would be seen had the cards been upright. With the King of Swords next to the Devil, I would have suspected he was up to no good and would have read him as being a bit of a hardass and inflexible in his stance, making a decision that primarily benefited himself. This would result in Judgement and with the Devil front and center, I would have seen him getting a severe wakeup call that "judges" his decisions and actions and that would probably send him for quite a loop. How he responded to the wakeup call would be, of course, up to him. But see, with the unbending attitude of the King and the strength of the Devil card in the center of the spread, it seems unlikely to me that he would respond positively to the call of Judgement.