Every word nerd has a pet peeve and mine is “don’t get me wrong.”
No phrase makes me want to stop reading more. “Don’t get me wrong” is usually a tell — a kind of backpedaling that sets off an internal alarm and suggests I’m a) reading a hyperbolic argument (which, admittedly, describes the majority of online writing these days) or b) that the writer is just lazy. Either way, when I see “don’t get me wrong,” I start to suspect I’m reading a piece of writing that might not be worth my time.
My friend Alan Jacobs tells his students, “If you write ‘Don’t get me wrong’ what you’re really saying is ‘I know what I’ve already written is sloppy and vague and susceptible to misinterpretation but I’m too lazy to go back and fix it’.”
If you find yourself using “don’t get me wrong,” I have a suggestion: Delete the phrase and rewrite what came before it so I don’t get you wrong.