Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this bonus episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about asking doctors to wash their hands before an exam, waiting for bosses who are never on time to meetings, telling therapists that they are yawning too much, and much more. Please subscribe! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we had your address.)
QUESTIONS FROM THE WILDERNESS:
THINGS MENTIONED DURING THE SHOW
YOU ARE CORDIALLY INVITED TO...
Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton
Theme Music: Rob Paravonian
[Instrumental Musical Introduction]
Nick: Hey everybody, it's Nick Leighton.
Leah: I'm Leah Bonnema.
Nick: We had so many great questions from you guys in the wilderness-
Leah: [Animated Howling]
Nick: Ooh! That we have a bonus episode. So here we go. Our first question is-
Leah: Terrorizing! [Giggling]
Nick: "How do you politely ask a doctor or nurse to wash their hands when it's clear that they have not done so before they examine you, or if they put on sterile gloves touch every single surface in the room and then begin to approach? I have tried every single possible tactic from apologizing profusely and claiming that I'm a germophobe - which frustrates me since I haven't done anything wrong, and it's not paranoid to ask you to follow very basic hygiene protocol - to simply asking 'Would you mind washing your hands first?' But that question seems to insult them, as if they think I'm implying that they're dirty. What I'm asking them to do is follow simple protocol. Often we're standing underneath giant posters that shout 'WASH YOUR HANDS' and still it seems to frustrate them." So, Leah, how do you feel about people not washing their hands and then touching you?
Leah: I started sweating.
Leah: I sweat when I read it the first time and then, now you reading it now-
Leah: -I actually feel like I might have gotten a temperature in the middle of that read.
Nick: Okay yeah ... Feeling a little warm. So, in general, I think we always want to keep in mind that health and safety always trumps etiquette. We should never put ourselves in harm's way just for the sake of being polite. So, I think we just need to remember that - that health and safety ... If you are in danger you do not do something just because that's the polite thing to do. Don't get kidnaped and be like "Oh but they asked ..." So no!
Leah: No, and I'm always glad that you remind people of this because I think, often, people do get put in danger because they feel the need to be polite. The whole book by Gavin de Becker that I read, and I just blanked the name on, is all about specifically how people prey on people because they feel the need to be polite.
Leah: So, that's a very real thing, and one of the things I love about you - The Gift of Fear is what it's called - is that you really always bring up people's health is at the forefront.
Nick: Right. So, this is a health and safety issue. This is not etiquette. This is germs that are going to be touching you, potentially, and you don't have to take that. So, I think the question is: how do you ask in a nice way? I think it just comes down to the value-neutral, nonjudgmental request, which is, "Oh would you mind washing your hands before examining me" or "Would you mind putting on a fresh pair of gloves before we begin?" You just say it like that, and that's it. You don't have to explain why. I don't think we need to give excuses like "Oh, I'm a germophobe." No, we're all germophobes. Nobody's into germs. So, I don't think we give excuses for why we want that done-
Leah: [Giggling] Nobody's into germs. I think it is saying this sentence and then- I understand feeling uncomfortable saying it. I get so anxious around doctors. I feel like if you had weird doctor experiences when you were a kid, you just never quite are able to go in and-
Nick: Oh, I get it. I mean, a lot of people are fearful because they fear that their care is going to be jeopardized; that if they challenge the doctor- and that's a power dynamic.
Nick: We do feel like there's a power differential in that relationship ... A lot of ink has been spilled on that dynamic, and how that affects health care, and patients not feeling empowered, et cetera, et cetera. Regardless, I think you just need to get over it, and you need to just state what you need because I think, at the end of the day, especially in health care, defining your needs, and being clear about what needs you have in health care is very important in getting the care that you actually need. If you don't ask, you don't get.
Nick: So if you ask for fresh gloves, or handwashing, then you'll get it. So, if you need that thing, then you have to ask for it.
Nick: Yeah. It's about being your own advocate at the end of the day.
Leah: I think what Nick said is so important. You just say the sentence and then, that's the end of the sentence.
Nick: Yeah, but any value-neutral, which is not judgmental, like, "Oh, you clearly are a bad doctor because I see you didn't wash your hands." Yeah, you have to cut that tone out of it. So, it's just, "Would you mind swapping your gloves before examining me?"
Leah: That's perfect. That was perfect.
Nick: Just leave it there, and no explanation needed, and that's it. Our next question is: "I run a goat dairy on a historic 1877 ranch in the national forest with stunning views. I'm a fab cook and raise fresh fruit and veggies. My days are very busy. Animals to feed; plants to water; repairs to do. Increasingly, I'm having so many bored, cooped-up friends from the city drop by any old time, and expect food and drink. So, they lounge and recoup, while I serve and clean up. I actually enjoy my time alone and have plenty of things to do. How do I politely decline these random visits?"
Leah: I just wrote underneath it: "Oh, sorry. I have work this week. It's not a good time for me."
Nick: Yeah. In general, we've got to set some boundaries.
Leah: You don't have to be available for people to stop by any time.
Nick: Yeah. No is a perfectly fine answer. "Oh, I'm so sorry. Now is not a convenient time."
Leah: And I think that's it.
Nick: That's it. Yeah. I think you just leave it there.
Leah: If they're people you really want to see, and you want to give them a reprieve from the city, you can say, "I'd love to see you. It's sort of tough because I work at home ..." but this is an option B - I think the first one is the best option - but if you're in this middle ground, where it's somebody you do want to see, you can say, "You're welcome to come, but I can't sit there with you. If you just want to hang out, be outside ..." You know what I mean?
Nick: Right. Like, "You're welcome to enjoy lemonade on my patio, while I do my watering." Yes. I guess you could set expectations for your guests. One thing I do get from this question is that the quality of these guests is not great. These are not actually great guests because a great guest who comes from the city might actually help you with some of your chores, or might participate in the entertaining, or make it less of a burden on you as host.
Leah: Cook dinner for you.
Nick: Right. I'm not getting that. I'm getting that "Not only are you disrupting my day, but I don't really enjoy having you around."
Leah: Yeah. That's why I think the first option is the best option.
Nick: I'm afraid now is not a convenient time.
Leah: Yeah, and they should understand - people are busy.
Nick: Yeah. I think, if you want to not leave somebody empty handed, you could then, in that same breath, say, "Oh, but let's set up a Zoom call to catch up."
Leah: That's nice.
Nick: That's not in my house. Win-win! Otherwise, you just feel used.
Nick: So, there's that. Our next question is: "I've been working for the same person for a few years. We have scheduled daily one-on-one calls early in the morning and later at night. Each time, I'm always left on the conference line solo waiting around for at least 20 minutes for them to join. Sometimes, they don't join at all. They've only reached out a handful of times to let me know that they're running late, and usually it's after me reaching out to them 20 minutes in and asking if they plan to join.
Do you think this behavior is rude or should I just accept it because they're my boss? I'm still counting the wasted minutes on the clock, so I'm getting paid for my time spent waiting, but it's just getting very frustrating because I work my schedule around these calls and even wake up early in order to dial in on time. We could easily change the times, but the person is very busy and tries to squeeze in as many obligations as possible within the same time slot. I'm curious as to what you guys think and how to deal with it."
Leah: A, up top, it's rude.
Nick: It is disrespectful of your time. Yeah, it is.
Leah: I think that you have every right to feel like this person is rude.
Nick: Yeah, well, and here's why it's rude ñ because, as we've discussed in previous episodes, when you're late, that is theft. You are stealing time from me, and stealing is wrong.
Leah: And the idea that they wouldn't even text you if they weren't going to show up!
Nick: Yeah. Well, what this really says is that- when you're late, you're basically saying, "My time is more valuable than yours." The boss is basically saying, "My time is more valuable than the time of my employee," which may be true, but that doesn't make it less rude.
Nick: So, I don't love this. What do we do about this?
Leah: I don't love it. I also think, unfortunately, in this dynamic, I do think it's appropriate to text, "Oh, hey, I'm on the call. Were you gonna show up?" I think that's fine, after 20 minutes-
Nick: I don't even think we need to wait for twenty minutes. I actually think we should confirm before the call - an hour before the call ñ "Hey, are we still good for 10:00?"
Leah: But, I mean, if they're getting up early, you can't confirm before it; you're just getting up. I think, though, that if you have to be on this call-
Leah: -this is a thing ... I would assume- for me, to not lose my mind, I would assume they're not going to be there. I would tell myself" I have to be there; I'm counting the hours; I'm going to get paid for it; I'm going to have other things to do while I have this conference open.
Leah: Because you don't want to ... Be prepared. You're ready. You're waiting ... I'll make my coffee while I open that.
Nick: That's true. Yeah. I'll just busy myself with other things and then, I'll jump in when-
Leah: When they're there.
Nick: Yeah. I guess that's good.
Leah: Then, if they say something - they come on and I'm doing something - I'll say, "Oh, I'm just trying to multitask because often you're late, and I don't want to waste [Nick giggles] the company's time.
Nick: Uh, that gets a little dicey.
Leah: No, you're right, that's probably dicey. I wheel it back; I wheel it back.
Nick: Well, I mean ... I think you can- oh, can you say that? "Oh, yeah, I was making coffee because you're always late, so I just figured I'd have the time."
Leah: No, I would say I was multitasking-
Nick: " ... because you're always late. So, I figured I could."
Leah: Because I don't want to interrupt what you were doing otherwise.
Leah: It's just, no matter what you say, it's wrong. So, I don't think you're going to say anything- I would just do other things-
Nick: Yeah. I don't think you explain why you're multitasking.
Nick: Yeah, no. I think if we can focus the schedule a little better- if that morning meeting is always pushed, can we just reschedule it permanently? Does that 9:00 a.m. call always have to be a 9:00? Maybe we just push it to 10:00. Maybe that's an idea.
Leah: I think you can have a conversation about rescheduling, being like, "Oh, are there better times, because we have these ..." I would have that conversation. Then, if it doesn't move anywhere, I would find a way to write it off in my brain that they're probably not going to be there. I'm getting paid for this. I'm going to log on, but I'm going to have other things to do, so I'm not just constantly waiting.
Nick: Yeah, the waiting, I do find a little maddening. I think if you've been working with this person for a few years, you probably do have insight in their calendar, and you probably can predict when they're going to jump on or not. If you knew who they were meeting with beforehand, or what their day was looking like, you probably know their rhythm enough to predict, like, is this call going to happen?
Leah: But I think you also are writing in because this has annoyed you for a very long time, and you needed an outlet.
Leah: I'm agreeing with you that, yeah, I think they're rude.
Nick: Yeah. We're going to validate you on this. This is rude behavior. Your boss shouldn't do it. Your boss should be more respectful of your time, and your boss should also realize that he's paying you for your time to sit around, so he should try and get the most bang for his buck, which is not waste your time.
Leah: Or her buck.
Nick: Or her buck. Yes, true. You don't want to waste people's time. Time is money.
Leah: It's just weird to have somebody sit and wait for you.
Nick: Yeah. So, sorry, letter-writer. We feel ya. We're on your team here.
Leah: We think ñ have another activity to do.
Nick: Yeah. Macrame. Our next question is-
Leah: [Giggling] Macrame. You could actually use that- you know what you could do? Side note, really quick: you could make that time "you time," since it's the kind of irritating thing that they're doing to you ... So, you could be like- during that period time, I'm gonna get myself a book that I love-
Leah: -that's like a real trashy book that's like a fun fiction-
Nick: Ooh, a bodice ripper?
Leah: Yeah, like a bodice ripper; maybe a Karen Robards. Yes, Karen Robards!
Leah: During that period of time, you get to read your Karen Robards.
Nick: Wow ... I was wondering how long it was going to take before Karen got brought up. This is one of Leah's favorite authors.
Leah: So, that way, you're treating yourself-
Nick: Okay ...
Leah: -by being available, but you're not going to just sit there. You're going to read little Karen.
Nick: That's actually ... This is a great option. I totally endorse this.
Leah: Oh, thank you!
Nick: Especially if it's Karen Robards novel.
Nick: Google that. You're gonna love it.
Leah: I can write them for you. I've read them all.
Nick: [Giggling] Sidebar: do you have a favorite novel? Where should people dip in first?
Leah: With Karen?
Leah: There's obviously a paranormal romance series.
Nick: [Giggling] Obviously.
Leah: If a person is not into paranormal romance, they should stay away from that series.
Nick: Okay, that's fair. Yeah, know if you're into paranormal romance or not.
Leah: Yeah. Then she obviously has her historical romance. I don't know why they're called historical. I don't think they're based on real events.
Nick: But this series is basically about romantic relationships with ghosts.
Leah: A ghost.
Nick: Oh, A ghost.
Leah: It's one monogamous ghost relationship.
Nick: Okay. We've gone off the rails, but-
Leah: We have, but it's important. I can't recommend until I know what type of- do they want a historic romance, a ghost romance, or just like a thriller? You know what I mean? Then, I can recommend. [Giggling]
Nick: Karen Robards. Our next question is: "A "friend" mentioned that her therapist regularly yawns during their sessions. In a previous episode, you got a question about a therapist who texted during the session. I liked the idea that you could stop talking to pause the moment, but I feel like it might be too passive to say, 'I must be rambling.' Thoughts?"
Leah: This bothers me. It's not like A yawn, which obviously, people yawn sometimes.
Nick: Yeah, it's a gerund. It's yawning.
Leah: Yeah. So, I said- my suggested sentence ... You're in therapy to be honest. I think you could say, "It makes me feel weird when you yawn."
Nick: All right, so you want to use an "I" statement?
Nick: "I feel that when you do this, it makes me feel ..."
Leah: Because the other alternative is to say, "Are you tired?" Which is ... I don't feel good about that.
Nick: Yeah. Why this bothers our letter-writer, or the "friend" of our letter-writer [crosstalk] These letters are anonymous, anyway. You don't have to pretend it's a friend. We know what's up. Why it bothers you is that yawning makes people feel like you're bored, or you're tired, or disinterested in what you have to say. That's the problem here. "I don't care if my therapist is tired. I do care if they are not listening to me, or if I'm boring them, or if they're distracted."
Nick: So, I can see that. But it's a lot harder to stop yawning. That is typically an involuntary thing, whereas texting - you can stop texting. So, I'm not sure if there's really anything you can say to make someone stop yawning. I mean, I guess you can make someone feel more conscious about it, but can you really make them stop?
Leah: But if it's a good therapist, and I say this knowing that I would struggle so much saying it-
Leah: I think you should be able to have a ... How much better would our letter-writer feel if they said, "It makes me feel sort of weird when you yawn. It makes me feel like you're not interested."
Leah: They express it as what the feeling is.
Nick: Yeah, that's good.
Leah: Then, the therapist could address it. They could say, "I'm sorry. I'm very interested. I don't even notice I'm yawning ..." you know what I mean? Then, it's a conversation.
Nick: Okay, yeah. I think you could totally do that. That's a nice, direct, polite, very forward, honest approach. No problem.
Leah: A good therapist will be like, "Oh ..." and then talk about it.
Nick: Right. Right. Yeah, I think if you can do that, if you can muster the strength to say that, then great. I think if it's happening a lot though, session to session, I think that we've got to change the time of our session. That 6:00 p.m. slot is just not working.
Leah: But I think that you could just address it.
Leah: Because what if you change the time slot, and then it's a 10:00 a.m., and then-
Nick: Same problem.
Leah: -they're yawning.
Nick: Or if it's after lunch I'm tired. Yeah.
Leah: Or, they're like, "Why do you want to change the slot? This worked so well." Then, you have to make up a lie?
Nick: Oh, that's true. Yeah, no, that's worse. All right, so we're just back to the nice, direct, "When you're yawning all the time, it makes me feel not heard, or that I'm boring you," or whatever.
Leah: Yeah. I think you just come in with how it makes you feel, and then open it up for a dialog because I, personally, couldn't see a therapist - and we all know I see a therapist, so I don't feel there's any ...
Nick: No secret there.
Leah: No secret there - who yawned all the time; unless, when I started with her, she was like, "I have a thing where I yawn." Some people do, "And I just want you to know that because I don't want you to think it has to do with my feelings about what you're saying." Then, I wouldn't mind at all because it wouldn't make me feel insecure about the deep dark secrets I'm divulging.
Nick: [Giggling] Right. That's fair. I mean you want to feel like that relationship is sort of a safe space where you feel heard.
Nick: Leah's right. Go with that.
Leah: At least a month, I get one.
Nick: Your next question is: "I work in HR for a large international company. While a lot of my workload is project-based, and behind the scenes, I am most visible when fulfilling the customer service aspects of my role; that is to say helping out with admin questions, or issues for employees. I try to be as available and responsive as I possibly can, but if I responded to everything immediately, I would get none of my actual work done.
It drives me absolutely mad when somebody calls me three times in a row, sends me an email, and then follows up with a Slack message, all within a span of half an hour, when I'm in calls or trying to work on a project. This is not a rare occurrence. Do you agree with me-" And you know we will "-that it is incredibly rude of people to be so insistent when trying to contact me?
To me, when somebody doesn't pick up the phone, I assume they are busy with something and will call me back as soon as they can or will try again later. Really hoping for some validation here-" You're gonna get it "-as this kind of behavior actually drives me up the walls with rage. Is there a polite way to tell people to back off? Thanks for your help!" So she wants validation ...
Leah: [Giggling] Yeah, we do agree with you that it is incredibly rude of people to be so insistent in trying to contact-
Nick: Yeah. I get it. I know this scenario. I've experienced this, and it's sort of like, "I just got your voicemail. Do we need the 90 emails on top of it, and the text messages?"
Leah: And then to have that happen, I'm sure, a lot because of her position must just drive you crazy.
Nick: Yes, I think HR is definitely a profession where this happens more than other professions, for sure.
Leah: Everybody thinks their thing is a crisis. Also, I don't think people necessarily understand the full job of people in HR.
Nick: No, people do not get how big of a job that is-
Nick: -and what is involved. They just think it's like, "Oh, I just ... My health insurance benefit ... I need a new ID card ..." No. It's so much more than that.
Leah: "I want you to tell Lisa that I don't like her sandwich."
Nick: Yeah. "Somebody's microwaving tuna again." At the end of the day, it's about expectation setting. That's it. You always want to set expectations and then you want to exceed expectations. So, the expectations that you want to set are that: "I will get back to you. I will respond to your email. I will answer your question. I will respond to your voice mail, all within some time frame that is reasonable."
You can set that time frame for whatever it is. So, it's like, "I will respond to all emails within 24 hours." Okay, so you've set that expectation and then, you just have to make sure you actually do that, and you put that as your voicemail message; you have that as your automatic auto-response on your email. I don't use Slack, but presumably you can have some sort of like auto message on Slack. I don't know, but maybe ... So, do that, so when people message you, they'll know, "Okay, I will hear back from you within 24 hours."
Leah: I think that's great.
Nick: Then, don't respond until you're ready.
Nick: That's fine. They can keep texting you; they can keep sending you emails, and you can ignore them all because you know that they know - 24 hours.
Leah: I love that. I had a different idea. I think yours is significantly better.
Nick: Okay, well, let's hear yours. Let's let the audience decide.
Leah: Well, mine is- I know it's giving people too much information. I'm working on being like, "You don't have to explain yourself."
Nick: You? Oversharing?!
Leah: I know-uh! So not me!
Nick: What? Weird!
Leah: So, I thought you could write this, and then cut and paste it over and over again.
Leah: It would say ... I don't think it's our letter-writer's responsibility to explain to people what her job is.
Leah: But maybe they would stop if they understood that they personally are not her whole job.
Leah: Having said this ... You know what I mean? She's doing other things!
Nick: Okay, so how do you ...?
Leah: This is what I thought could be a thing that she cuts and pastes.
Leah: Let me get to the end of it before we say why it's bad. I already know it's bad ... This was my first thought. "Is this an emergency? If so, let me know, and I'll be right with you. Otherwise ..." See, I wrote it, and I got really excited halfway through; something like, "I'm on a deadline for a project. I'll follow up with you (whatever it is) by the end of day."
Nick: Okay, so same idea that we want to set expectations. I think that's good. Yeah, I mean, I think your answer is actually pretty much the same that we have said when we will get to this thing.
Leah: Yeah. The difference is that I'm explaining - which I know we don't have to do ñ why, that it's I'm on a deadline for another project.
Nick: Yeah. Unfortunately, in the customer service world, you never want to make customers feel like they're not the only customer. You want to make them feel like, "You're the entire world. Your business, your issues - that's my whole focus." You don't want to explain, "No, no, there are other more important things than your issue." You never want to make a customer feel that, even if it's true. You don't want to convey that.
It's sort of like when you explain what your whole job is and how they're just a small part of it, this is a very slippery thing. I think you could definitely explain that the reason why you'll get back at a certain deadline is something else going on. Maybe? Yeah, I don't like excuses. I think we don't explain. We just set the expectation. Not like, "Due to more important things that I do for my job, I will get back to you."
Leah: No, but it's a larger- "I'm in the middle of a thing. I'll get back to you as soon as I finish this thing."
Nick: You're always in the middle of a thing. There's always a thing.
Leah: No, you're right.
Nick: Every day, there's the thing. You're in the middle of it.
Leah: No, you're absolutely right.
Nick: Also, the idea of, "Oh, if this is an emergency, well then I'll get to it." Well, who is defining emergency?
Leah: Well, that was more to remind the person, like, it's probably not an emergency. You didn't need to call three times.
Leah: That's why I'm deferring to your ...
Nick: Yeah, my answer's better.
Leah: What you said- yeah, it's definitely better.
Leah: I just wanted to say that I tried.
Nick: A for effort. Love it. Really appreciate it. You did great.
Leah: I really like yours.
Nick: Thank you. Our next thing is a repent.
Nick: So, as you may not know, we recently launched VentorRepent.com, where you can share with us some vents or repents from your own life. This is a safe space. You can send them in anonymously and get it off your chest. So, we got one, which is great.
"I sent a friend a birthday card and gift almost an entire month late. I feel like I crossed whatever timeline is even appropriate to wish someone a happy belated birthday." That's it. You know what? It was a little late, but by the powers invested in us by Romulus and Remus, we grant you a full pardon for this etiquette crime, and now you have a clean slate. So, don't let it happen again.
Leah: [Giggling] Nick will pardon you, and I'll be like, "That's not even that bad!" [laughter]
Nick: But, for forgetting birthdays, we have calendars, people. Use them. Set a reminder next year, a month ahead of time, that you have to buy this person a gift, or send a card, or whatever it is, so that you don't forget. A month ... A belated month, this is not the worst-
Leah: It is nothing!
Nick: -etiquette crime that has come across the transom.
Leah: Man, you should have met me 10 years ago. I'm still catching up.
Nick: [Giggling] So, if you have vents or repents, send them to us - VentorRepent.com. If you have any questions, we'd love to hear them. Please send them to us. Send them to us through our website, wereyouraisedbywolves.com, or you can leave a voicemail/send us a text, (267) CALL-RBW (267-225-5729) We'll see you next time.
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