I talk to a lot of people as a pastor and it’s almost always a pleasure. However, I can usually tell when a conversation isn’t going to go so well when it begins with any of the following phrases.

1. “I don’t mean to hurt your feelings, but …”

Interpretation: “I actually know that I’m going to be rude, but maybe it won’t be as painful if I smile the entire time.”

2. “I know you are really busy, but …”

Interpretation: “Nothing on your schedule is as important as what I’m about to say. Cancel whatever is next, because I am taking this slot.”

3. “This is going to sound weird, but …”

Interpretation: “I have rehearsed this over and over, but I still sound weird, even to myself. However, even my own weirdness will not prevent me from sharing this with you.”

4. “You probably already know this, but …”

Interpretation: “You think you know, but I really have more insight and you need to hear it from me to get the facts straight. This is gossip, but I am going to present it as a prayer request.”

And finally, one of my all-time favs:

5. “I forgive you even though you did not know you hurt me.”

Interpretation: You made me mad, I realized I was wrong, but I still want you to know you made me mad, even though you did nothing wrong. Do you feel better now?

Thanks for letting me have some fun. People are mostly great, even when they stumble with words. What are some of your favorite, but awkward, conversation starters?

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