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Don’t you hate it when people preface some nasty remark with an insincere up-front apology – as if that justifies their tone or gives them leeway to be ungracious. I always cringe when I hear certain caveats that just serve as a trigger for delivering some especially sharp retort or critical insight.

Here are some of the most commonly used apologies:

– Please don’t take this the wrong way, but… (What other way did you think I would take it?)

– I don’t mean this to sound harsh, but… (sure sounds harsh to me)

– I don’t want to throw stones, but… (no but you have no problem heaving boulders)

– I hope this doesn’t sound critical, but… (it sure doesn’t sound encouraging)

– I’m not pointing the finger at anyone, but… (just remember whenever you point fingers there are three fingers pointing back at yourself)

– I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but…

– I ain’t trying to diss you, but…

– I don’t want to harsh your mellow, but…

(You can see I got some help from the younger generation at the end there.)