The other day I received a backhanded compliment from a woman who said my hair finally looked good which made her suspect I was wearing a wig. What does one say to a compliment that has you rubbing your cheek to ease the sting? I’ll tell you what I said. I said, “No, Mother. It’s not a wig. It’s my real hair.” It cut deep coming from my own mother.

Some people don’t mean for their compliments to be backhanded and yet, they are. It’s like when someone compliments your weight loss with, “Boy, you look really good. You should be proud of yourself. At least now you don’t look as bad in that dress.” What do you say?

What do you say to the person who compliments your newborn baby with, “Oh, she’s adorable. I’m sure she must look like your husband.” You’re torn between thanking them and punching them.

Sometimes it’s not what a person says, but the tone in which they say it. A person’s tone can convey if they’re insulting you, mocking you and being funny or sarcastic. By now most of you reading this column have already decided which tone you think I’ve written it in and that’s the tone playing in your head during the entire read. Only, since your tone may be different than the tone I wrote it in, it opens the door to misinterpretation.

Sometimes it’s easier to say what you mean without using any words. Married couples have their own non verbal world of communication. Eye rolling on the wife’s part silently tells the husband, “You’re such an idiot.” When a wife kicks her husband under the table it means, ‘Shut your mouth before you land in hot water.’

Even with non verbal communication there’s room for misinterpretation. It’s easy for a husband to misinterpret a wife’s smile, come- hither look and beckoning finger to mean he’ll get lucky tonight. However, it’s hard for a wife to misinterpret the hand gesture given by the husband when he’s told, “No. Not tonight. I just needed you to take out the trash.”

Yep, that particular hand gesture has one meaning and one meaning only. The wife gets the message. There’s no room for misinterpretation.