Nov. 29, 2021

Devastating People With a Glance, Interviewing for Colleges, Discouraging Office Interruptions, and More

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah tackle devastating people with a glance, going on college interviews, discouraging interruptions at the office, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we could.)

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah tackle devastating people with a glance, going on college interviews, discouraging interruptions at the office, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we could.)

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  • A QUESTION OF ETIQUETTE: College admission interviews
  • QUESTIONS FROM THE WILDERNESS: I just found out that a wedding I'm a groomsman for took place without me...what should I do? How do I decline invitations for events that are months away and I'm not sure if I want to commit yet? How do I get people to stop interrupting me in my glass-walled office?
  • VENT OR REPENT: Abandoning conversations, The butterfly effect
  • CORDIALS OF KINDNESS: An invitation to Arizona, A nice review







Hosts: Nick Leighton & Leah Bonnema

Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton

Theme Music: Rob Paravonian



Episode 116


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Nick: Do you forget to send invitations? Do you disturb people in offices? Do you use your phone in the wrong places? Were you raised by wolves? Let's find out!

[Theme Song]

Here are things that can make it better

When we have to live together

We can all use a little help

So people don't ask themselves

Were you raised by wolves?

Nick: Hey everybody, it's Nick Leighton.

Leah: And I'm Leah Bonnema.

Nick: And let's just get right down to it with our amuse-bouche.

Leah: Delighted!

Nick: So for today's amuse-bouche, I want to talk about the most devastating thing you could do to someone socially when somebody does something rude to you—or at least what you could do 200 years ago. So it's called the cut.

Leah: [gasps]

Nick: C-U-T. The cut. And this term probably originated in England in the late 1700s. And it was widely used in the Regency period, so think Jane Austen novels. And it basically means to snub somebody, but somebody who totally deserves it. So you like a good Regency-era bodice ripper. Have you come across this sort of situation in one of these novels?

Leah: I have not. And now that I know it exists, I feel like it's desperately lacking in the novels that I've been reading.

Nick: So if you're gonna cut someone, you're basically gonna pretend that you don't see them. That's the whole thing. And it's devastating. So Emily Post, she's weighed in on this. And she says, quote, "For one person to look directly at another and not acknowledge the other's bow is such a break of civility that only an unforgivable misdemeanor can warrant the rebuke." And it's not just like absent-mindedness or forgetfulness. That can be explained away. Like, "Oh, he just didn't see me." No, no. The cut is deliberate. And Emily adds, "It is a direct stare of blank refusal, and not only insulting to its victim, but embarrassing to every witness. Happily, it is practically unknown in polite society." So the cut is so dramatic that you would never do it in polite society. Like, inconceivable. How could you possibly do this?

Leah: I have goosebumps. Like, genuinely. I'm visualizing it, and it is wild.

Nick: Yeah. So there's a lot of different rules about how you do the cut and different flavors of the cut. And so there's the regular vanilla cut. Sometimes this is called the "Cut indirect." And this is just when you just don't look at them. Maybe they're across the street, maybe you're in your carriage, and you just don't, like, make eye contact. And that's just sort of the "Cut indirect." They might wave at you across the street and you just don't see them. Okay, fine.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: Then I was actually looking into this great dictionary from 1811, which is called The Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, and basically, the author went around London in the middle of the night, going to all sorts of seedy places listening for vocabulary. And he put together this great dictionary of words. And so he actually describes other types of cut. So there's the "Cut sublime," which is when you sort of just look up at the clouds. Or in the dictionary, he says that you quote, "Admire the top of King's College Chapel." So you just sort of like, look up. "Oh, I don't see you." And then this dictionary also describes the "Cut infernal," which is when you look down and you just, like, look at your shoelaces. But then the most severe version of the cut? This is the burn all the bridges, scorch all the earth, mutually assured destruction. This is the "Cut direct." And this is when you stare right in their face and you make eye contact and you pretend to not know them and you do not acknowledge their existence.

Leah: Whew!

Nick: If you do this, there is no turning back. This is permanent. It is irrevocable. You gotta be very careful if you do it.

Leah: This is thrilling! I see a whole story around this. Obviously, with a lot of outfits.

Nick: Sure. Oh, yeah. No, there's hats. There's definitely some hats involved.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: And so there are rules, of course. There's definitely some rules. So you can only do the cut, any of these cuts, if somebody truly deserves it and has done something so horrible that not only do you know about it, but everybody in your social circle knows about it. So that's very important. It really has to be very high crime and misdemeanor. And you have to be careful because you can be challenged to a duel if you do it.

Leah: Oh, wow!

Nick: So this can happen. There are stories where a cut goes bad, there's a duel, and then we all know how that can go. Because what happens with the cut, and why you actually have to be very careful when you do it, especially if you have status in, like, a community, is that if you shun someone publicly, everybody else sort of is gonna follow your lead. And so if you're like a high-ranking person and you have a lot of social status and you basically cut someone, then they can actually not have marriage prospects. You can ruin their life.

Leah: [gasps]

Nick: Like, you can definitively destroy their life. This is the basis of many Regency novels. Yes!

Leah: I was just thinking we should just write a novel immediately about this.

Nick: Yeah. No, just glances. Mm-hmm. Yes, all about glances. What they mean, what they can do, the destruction they can cause. Yeah. So definitely you have to be very careful that the cut is appropriate, because if it's disproportionate—this has happened—there are stories about, I think some, you know, king or duke or prince or whoever, like, did the cut. It felt, like, a little overblown, a little too extreme, and it actually backfired. Like, oh, he's abusing his position.

Leah: Mm!

Nick: So it definitely has to be a serious enough issue where the cut feels justified, everybody in your social circle agrees with it, and then you do it. But once it's done, it cannot be undone.

Leah: Whoo! I definitely have a little sweat on my back.

Nick: Yeah. So the cut. But yeah, I mean, this even happens today where people give people the silent treatment or shun people, you know? Or you cut people out of the group text. Like, there's definitely a modern version of this.

Leah: Block people online.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, I guess that's what it is. Yeah. So it's fun that modern etiquette behavior has very ancient roots.

Leah: I love this.

Nick: You can see even today walking up to somebody and they reach out their hand about to shake their hand and you pretend they don't exist. Like, that is super rude.

Leah: It's super rude and so dramatic!

Nick: You can imagine how much more dramatic this felt 200 years ago.

Leah: Oh, especially with wigs on? I mean ...

Nick: I mean, wigs turn up the volume on everything.

Leah: They really do. Once a wig is involved ...

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: The stakes are raised.

Nick: They don't go higher.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: And we're back, and now it's time to go deep.

Leah: Mmm, deep and away for four years.

Nick: [laughs] So for today's question of etiquette, I want to talk about the college interview.

Leah: Which is, I think, terrific.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, I think it's important because it's a type of interview. So all of the standard interviewee things happen, but it's a different flavor. It's a slightly different flavor.

Leah: A different flavor, and I think it's always—you know, when you come up with back pocket expressions, I feel like this is such a good thing to just throw some helpful hints out there.

Nick: So do you remember your interview? Did you have one?

Leah: I do remember college interviews, yes.

Nick: Okay. And so did those go for you?

Leah: You know, I mean, I got into the college I wanted to, so ...

Nick: I guess it was fine.

Leah: It was fine. You know, now as an adult, I think I'd be much more—I think I'd be a lot more organized. [laughs]

Nick: [laughs] Okay. Yeah, I can imagine rewinding a younger version of you, what that looks like.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Sure.

Leah: It just gets bigger and more chaotic, you know what I mean?

Nick: Yeah, I get you. I remember mine. I think it was in a Starbucks, I recall. And it was pretty casual because mine was with an alumni interview. It wasn't, like, on campus with somebody from the admissions office. And so it was just sort of like a casual coffee, just that was sort of all it was. And so it worked out because I got in. So that's good. And I've actually done alumni interviews as an alumni for prospective students. So I've actually done the interviewing. So I've definitely seen a lot of different styles of people being interviewed and what I thought was effective or not. So happy to share some thoughts in a moment.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: But yeah, I think in general, it's an interview at the end of the day. And so all of the things that you would do for any type of interview? They all apply. You need to be on time. You need to, like, dress appropriately. You need to be polite. You know, so, like, all of the standard things? Like, that definitely applies.

Leah: That's what I had on the top of my list. It's still respecting the time, and people's time is like right at the top.

Nick: Yeah. And I think there's actually two different types of interviews. There's the alumni interview, which is what I did and also what I do now for prospective students. And then there's the interview with an actual admissions person. The stakes feel slightly different for both of these.

Leah: They do, right?

Nick: Yeah. Because I know for a fact that the reports that I write up after the interview? They're read, they're considered. I think if there's two identical candidates, and one had a dramatically different interview with an alumni than the other, that could maybe tip the scales. But I think that's very rare. I think all the alumni interview does is either confirm what's already in the rest of the application, or add a little more sort of color to the package. I don't think it really tips the scales unless something goes horribly wrong.

Leah: Right.

Nick: In an admissions office, yeah, I think it probably is slightly more definitive.

Leah: And I think having good questions is great.

Nick: Yeah. So I think definitely I was always surprised where people show up at the interview and aren't prepared, and didn't really have anything that they wanted to contribute to the interview. So the number one question I ask everybody, and I think you can always expect, is: why are you applying? Why do you want to go to this school? And so having an answer that doesn't sound like, "Oh, it's a good school, and so that's why." That's not good enough. A lot of good schools out there. So I think having a thoughtful answer to that question alone? Let's start there.

Leah: I think really bring yourself to the interview. Why do you want to go there? What are you excited about?

Nick: Yeah. Authenticity, I think, is key. I think you definitely don't want to be somebody you're not in this interview. Or I don't think you want to be who you think the college is looking for, because I think that never works out. Because let's say the college thought you were somebody else and then admitted to you and then it's like, oh, actually, you're not a good fit for this campus. Like, that's not good, either. I was always struck by the people who showed up at the alumni interviews I did in, like, full suits with, like, a little briefcase. And it's like, that's cool. I appreciate the effort. But it's like, do you go to class this way? Is this like, actually an everyday thing for you, or is this just for my benefit? And if it's just for my benefit, it's like, okay, noted, but not necessary.

Leah: But I totally understand that. It's your interview. You feel like you should dress up, and ...

Nick: Yeah, I would much rather you be a little more authentic and, like, dress like a nicer version of a high school student rather than like mini-businessmen.

Leah: I think the trick is to just make sure it's clean. You're clean.

Nick: Yes. Yes. Cleaned is good. Yeah, I'll start there. Sure.

Leah: [laughs] I mean, that's my bar.

Nick: But also for these interviews, I think it's important to have good questions for the interviewer. And I think that just shows engagement. Even if you don't really care what the answers are, I think it's still nice to ask because then it feels like a conversation. So good questions are like, "What did you enjoy about the school?" Or, "What was something you wish you knew about the school before you went that you only learned afterwards?" Or, "What were your favorite things to do off campus?" Or, you know, just something about just the life of a student beyond just the academics.

Leah: And I think if you're really excited about a particular—it's a sport, it's a department, I think show your enthusiasm and ask those questions. "Do you know anything in particular about this department? I'm looking—this is something I'm excited about. I'd love to get as much information as I can about that."

Nick: Well, enthusiasm, I think, is a great word, because I think for every school, they're looking for enthusiasm in some aspect, which is why they focus on, like, oh, what are your extracurriculars? What are you passionate about outside of school? What subjects are you really enthusiastic about? Why are you enthusiastic about coming to our school? Which major are you enthusiastic about? Like, everybody is looking for, like, what are you into? And so I think it is important to just sort of present information about whatever that is. And it doesn't matter what it is. I think in general, they just want enthusiasm. And I think so often people are so nervous or don't know the answer to that that they just sort of come across as sort of like non-enthusiastic, and who wants that on your team?

Leah: Yeah, I think enthusiasm can carry a person over any kind of—you know, say you feel nervous because you don't know something, or interviews make you nervous. Enthusiasm will carry you through that because it's contagious. People love it.

Nick: Yeah, and nobody likes people who are not enthusiastic, right? Can we say that as a universal?

Leah: I think that's universal. I do understand people get nervous, and then they can come across as unenthusiastic when really what they are is timid.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: Which I think is completely understandable.

Nick: Yeah, that's true. And about being nervous, totally understandable. Not a problem. Know that your interviewer is also probably nervous, and may actually not be very good at it. You know, you don't always get a two-time Emmy Award-winning, you know, interviewer to chat with.

Leah: Nicholas Leighton.

Nick: I can make that 30 minutes so delightful. On my end, it's like the world's most boring talk show with no commercial breaks. On your end, you're like, "This is great!" So you don't always get that.

Leah: Yeah. And also, I think in that way it's helpful to remember that everybody who's interviewing you has also been a college kid doing an interview.

Nick: And then one thing that I had experienced when I was doing interviews is people speaking poorly of other schools. And don't do that, because it's not like a competition. Like, I don't care what you think about other schools, and I'm not threatened by other schools. Like, I'm also postgraduate many years so, like, definitely don't care. But it just looks bad because it's sort of like if you're speaking ill of this other school, then are you gonna speak ill of me and the interview we had to somebody else? And it's like, I don't want to go down that path. So never speak ill of any schools or other interviews you may have had.

Leah: I think that's a good tip across the board for any kind of situation. It's always going to look bad.

Nick: Yes. No, all these tips are good for every situation, I think. Yeah, my next on the list: don't chew gum. Turn off your phone. But, like, do we have to mention it? I guess we do.

Leah: We do.

Nick: Yeah, we do.

Leah: And I think I've mentioned this before: a good thing for if you have the nervous nellies is to chew gum, but then you have to make sure you have time to get rid of it before you go into the interview. Because it keeps your mouth wet, and it actually lowers the physical symptoms of anxiety.

Nick: Hmm. Okay.

Leah: So if you do like to pop a gum because it calms you down, make sure you have ample space to get rid of it.

Nick: And, you know, I think it's always fine when you sit down and start an interview saying, "I'm a little nervous." I think that's fine just to sort of admit that right up top. Like, "Oh, you know, I'm a little nervous." And I think that's always fine. I'm never bothered by that.

Leah: I absolutely agree.

Nick: Yeah, just call it out. And ideally, that person will be like, "No need to be nervous. We're cool here."

Leah: I think the goal is to be your most you, unless you're a late person who wears wrinkly clothes, then be your most you on time with a steamer.

Nick: Yeah. No, you want to be authentically you unless you is actually not good.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: [laughs] In which case you should be somebody else. Right. Okay. That's great advice. Leah. Thank you so much.

Leah: No, but you know what I mean? Like, sometimes people think things about themselves are, like, weird or whatever. But honestly, that's always in interviews, I think, what's interesting.

Nick: Yes. No, definitely I want to get a sense of who you are and what makes you different from everybody else I'm chatting with. Absolutely. So if you can give me those things, if you can highlight those things for me, then that definitely makes my write-up easier or my impression of you easier to sort of encapsulate. Like, oh, this is what this person was all about.

Leah: Yeah, just do those things on time and with a lint roller.

Nick: Because why that's important, just like why it's important, is that as the interviewer, we are looking for somebody who is, like, professional and organized and competent. And that goes for a college interview, that goes for a job interview, that probably goes for internet dating. You know, that kind of goes for everything. You're looking for somebody who sort of is enough of an adult in enough categories. And so you just want to be as much of that as possible, because the flip side is nobody is interested in hiring or dating or enrolling somebody who is late, disorganized.

Leah: Eating wings.

Nick: Incompetent, rude. Like, nobody wants to be around that. And so that's the point. That's why you bother.

Leah: And I think in that vein, because, you know, I always like to, when I have an interview, go through all the things that could go wrong in advance.

Nick: [laughs] Like what?

Leah: So I will always physically go to the location if I'm unfamiliar in advance.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: I did that with my first job in New York.

Nick: That's commitment. That's serious.

Leah: Well, because I find college campuses very confusing unless they're small.

Nick: Oh, that's true. Yeah. Know your way to where you're going. Sure.

Leah: Maybe you don't have to physically go there and there's GPSs, but time it out.

Nick: That's true. Yeah, just because you arrived at the parking lot on time doesn't mean you're actually on time 20 minutes into campus.

Leah: Yeah, you're gonna have to show an ID somewhere. Just add in that extra time because it's always ...

Nick: That's a good point.

Leah: Because I feel like what you don't want to do is get nervous about things that are not important to the interview. I mean, that aren't about the interview. Like, you spend so much time being anxious about, "Oh, I'm late. Oh, I can't find that door," that then you show up and you don't get to be your best self. Have everything organized in advance so you can be your best self. So put that on your side.

Nick: So you can just focus your anxiety on the interview part.

Leah: Yes!

Nick: [laughs] Okay.

Leah: Well, if I'm not anxious, I get anxious about all those other things, and then the interview itself isn't the part for me personally that makes me nervous. It's the "Where am I going? Who did I have to talk to? What documents do I have to have?" So if you knock all that out in the beginning, then you could just show up.

Nick: Right. And then the most important thing—do you know what I'm gonna say, Leah?

Leah: You're gonna say "Write a thank-you note."

Nick: [laughs]

Leah: And I had it. I had it.

Nick: I don't mind being predictable. Yeah. No, you really should. And you should send it quickly, at least for an alumni interview because as I'm sitting in that Starbucks with my laptop after you leave, I'm writing up all the notes that are fresh in my mind and I'm about to hit send. And so if you can send that quick email out the door a couple of minutes later, "So great meeting you. Really appreciate you taking the time. I'm very excited about attending X Y Z School," if I get that email before I've hit send, I'm gonna definitely incorporate that into my thoughts and my notes about you. So definitely send the thank-you note. Definitely send it if it's an admissions office too. Absolutely. Like, that's also very important. But thank-you notes. Yeah, they really make a difference.

L And I mean, that's carried all through anytime—I still have a meeting, as I leave, I send a thank you through an email.

Nick: Right. And if you do do that, the number of high school applicants that actually send a thank-you note after these interviews? 0.000001 percent. So if you do it, you will stand out so much in such a good way

Leah: And it doesn't have to be complicated. "Thank you so much for your time. It was wonderful meeting you." Boom!

Nick: Boom! Send. It can be that short, and the impact that that will have will be actually very measurable. So thank-you notes, they can be totally a selfish act. And that's fine.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: And we're back. And now it's time to take some questions from you all in the wilderness.

Leah: [howls]

Nick: So our first question is quote, "I was recently asked to be in a wedding for my best friend and college roommate. The wedding was originally scheduled for this month, and a few months ago I still hadn't heard any details about the wedding and was getting curious on how to move forward with making travel arrangements, what the schedule was, if I'd be making multiple trips for pre-wedding celebrations, et cetera. Not wanting to bug the couple, I reached out to my other best friend who was also in the wedding to see if he knew anything I didn't. He was told by the groom that the wedding was postponed until next spring. The date TBD. I just let it go, despite the groom never reaching out to communicate this to me. He's never been great at making plans or following through, so I figured I'd just get something last minute and I blocked out all of spring.

Nick: Then I start to see posts on Facebook and Instagram about an upcoming wedding. My wife follows the bride and said the same thing and encouraged me to reach out. But again, not wanting to be bothersome about a potentially touchy subject, I again reached out to my fellow groomsman. He also didn't know anything about an upcoming wedding, and it turns out our best friend for 15 years got married on his original wedding date after asking us to be groomsmen and without any notification to us that plans had changed. The wedding seems small and I would say for family only, but friends of the bride were there. Is this his way of ending our friendship? How would we move on from this? What's the best way to reach out?"

Leah: You gotta communicate.

Nick: Yeah. Yeah, that's—yes. Mm-hmm. [laughs]

Leah: I feel like being—which I understand as a person who often goes through all these thoughts is well, you don't want to—the fear is reaching out about something that's touchy, and then you put them in a position where they have to say something. So then you're like, "Oh, maybe I shouldn't." But you have to reach out and just say something.

Nick: Yes, absolutely. Because it wasn't touchy until you kind of thought it was gonna be touchy.

Leah: I also—I mean, this is not in the question, but if I was interviewing this person to get the full depth of the situation, I would want to know, are you talking to this person about other things? Like, are you guys going out for drinks or bowling and then just not discussing the wedding? Or are you not talking at all?

Nick: Yeah. So my first question is: are you guys friends?

Leah: Well, it says "Best friend for 15 years."

Nick: Yeah, but, like, still? You know? I mean, how close are we? So that was—I had that question, too. Because are you talking about all these other things and the wedding never came up? Like, how is that happening?

Leah: Like, are you going out, hanging out, having a great time, and then they're purposefully not bringing up the wedding in any way?

Nick: Right. So then the next thing on my list of questions was: does the bride hate you?

Leah: Yeah, it felt like if her friends were there—well, it's not just our letter writer. The other groomsman was also not there.

Nick: Well, that detail is also material and very interesting.

Leah: Very interesting. If it was just you ...

Nick: Then yeah, the problem's you.

Leah: [laughs] Then for sure they're ending the friendship. But ...

Nick: The other guy.

Leah: The other guy's not there either.

Nick: But everybody is being very passive, and I think that was not good here.

Leah: Somebody's gotta go in.

Nick: Somebody's gotta go in. Now the benefit of the doubt is that this was a wedding, okay, fine. The thing that you're invited to is a reception which will still be taking place next spring, date TBD. Now why do we need a groomsman at a reception? I don't know. That's a little non-traditional. But maybe that's what that is. So maybe that's the world we live in, that this was a very small wedding that you were never supposed to be invited to. And then the thing you are invited to has yet to take place.

Leah: I can also expand on that and offer up one more option.

Nick: Sure!

Leah: There was gonna be the wedding that you were going to be the groomsmen at.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: Then they wanted to postpone.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: Then something came up last minute, say perhaps it has to do with the bride's family where they wanted to get married right away.

Nick: On the original date.

Leah: On the original date. So they're like, let's just go through with this because maybe family can only be there at a certain time. Maybe it's something private.

Nick: Sure.

Leah: Who knows? But then, as you said, they're still gonna have this larger engagement for the TBD.

Nick: Right.

Leah: There's just so many possibilities and variables here, but you're just gonna have to ask.

Nick: So totally agree. I think we do need to say something.

Leah: And I wouldn't actually go through this other groomsman. I would do it myself.

Nick: Yeah, I don't think we need to subcontract.

Leah: No.

Nick: Yeah. No, because clearly that's not working.

Leah: Yeah, it's not working. They don't know either, and I think you should just go in.

Nick: So there's two options I have for going in. The first is you can pretend you're not aware of any of those social media posts, and you could just reach out innocently. "Hey, just making some plans for spring. What are the details for your upcoming wedding?"

Leah: I think they're gonna know you know.

Nick: [laughs] They would probably know that you know. Right.

Leah: I think you could say—and you have to land it.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: Some sort of a, "Huge congratulations! Beautiful photos! I wanted to make sure I didn't miss anything. I thought we were rescheduling for the spring. Just wanted to check in about that."

Nick: And so, "Did I miss something, or are you a bad person?"

Leah: Yes. And the last part is silent.

Nick: Right, right.

Leah: The last part is like the silent K in "knife." You just leave it out. It's there, but we don't pronounce it.

Nick: Correct. So I think you would have to land that in a tone that did not feel aggressive.

Leah: Which is, I think, that's why we come in with the congratulations and a sincere compliment about the wedding.

Nick: Right. So I think we would want to do that because if this is friendship ending, well, it's gonna be friendship ending no matter what you do if you have the conversation or not. At least know if there was some horrible mistake, or that there is actually some reception in the spring, well then great, then no actual problem has happened here.

Leah: And I think also you don't want it, like, riding in your mind. Like, it's better to just—and I also think sometimes these things, texting feels so much easier, but we lose so much.

Nick: This is a phone call.

Leah: This is a phone call or a face to face.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: Yeah. I would really want to do this face to face, because so much is lost. And when it's delicate like this?

Nick: Hmm. So the question is: would you want to bring in the other groomsman? Like, "Oh, let's grab beers. Congratulations!" Do you want that other person at that beer summit?

Leah: I think you could.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: If you'd already discussed with the groomsman that you feel like it's uncomfortable.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: You could maybe call them and say, "Hey, how about we take him out for drinks?" Feel it out.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: Or if you feel very close with his friend, and you really don't understand and you just want to have a heart to heart.

Nick: The other possibility is that this offer to make you a groomsman was tossed out casually, so casual that this guy doesn't remember.

Leah: I would feel that way if there wasn't—not I would feel that way—I would think that was a possibility. But because there's another person who's in the exact same situation, it feels different.

Nick: Yeah. No, this one's a little bonkers.

Leah: It's a little bonkers. And it feels since the bride's friends were there ...

Nick: That's the detail where you're like, "Oh, okay."

Leah: Then it sort of feels like it's her people and not his people.

Nick: Right. Unless you're not his people.

Leah: And that's where I bring back the idea that there's two people. And I think he would have recognized some of his people in the picture. He would have been like, "Other people were there and I wasn't invited."

Nick: Yeah. I mean, if you know this person for 15 years from college, yeah, I mean, I think you'd know some of the other people in the circle.

Leah: So I really do get the idea that it's her people, not his people.

Nick: Okay. And what's kind of nice about this is that so often etiquette is not about actually getting closure. And on some level, etiquette is actually about never getting closure, leaving something open-ended and not actually closing the loop. For this, I think the correct etiquette response actually is to try and get closure here.

Leah: Yeah. And I think it's perfect to take him out for—like, go get an iced coffee and congratulate him and be like, "Hey, did I miss a thing?"

Nick: So keep us posted on this one. Definitely curious how this unfolds. So our next question is quote, "I have a friend who always asks what my plans are for holidays—Halloween, New Year's—three to four months in advance before I've had a minute to think about it. It's starting to really bug me that I have to commit to a plan so far in advance. I feel I haven't had a minute to consider what I want to do for the holidays, or even hear what other things might be going on at that time. I know, I know it sounds bad wanting to consider my options before committing to a plan, and she's so generous to offer to plan something, but it's so early that I feel it would be almost strange if I said I might have other plans. Should I just accept her invitations and be happy that I have a friend that wants to share these holidays with me? Or do I need to start planning further out so that it can ensure I don't accept an invitation I can't or don't want to commit to? Or do I tell her I'm just not sure what I've got going on yet, but I'll let her know soon? Maybe none of the above? Thank you for your help."

Leah: I think one thing that I have really learned in my life, and also I think that keeps coming up in the podcast is, if you're honest in a way that's about you and not insulting to them, it seems always to be the appropriate response.

Nick: Yes, totally.

Leah: You don't want to commit this early because you're not sure how you feel. And you really appreciate how she always sets up these wonderful plans, but this year, you kind of want to leave it a little—you want to be a little flexible.

Nick: Yeah. And that sounds like such a nice, polite, honest, respectful response.

Leah: And I mean, if they're mad at you for that, then there's really—you're allowed to want to have flexibility, and you're being gracious about how you appreciate their planning.

Nick: Because we don't want to live in a world in which you're obligated to accept invitations to anything you don't want to go to, or something that is so far into the future, like, who knows what your life is gonna be? I'm just trying to get through Friday here. I don't know what's happening six months from now.

Leah: I don't know what's happening in four hours.

Nick: [laughs] I don't know what's happening in the next minute.

Leah: [laughs] And I do think that any time we make something up like, "Oh, I already have plans ..."

Nick: Don't make stuff up.

Leah: It never works out. Don't make stuff up.

Nick: No, definitely not. Now you can be vague, but never lie.

Leah: I think saying how you feel in this situation, it's not offensive to her in any way.

Nick: What you said is so perfect.

Leah: Oh my goodness, thank you! Wow! Let's bask in that for 30 seconds.

Nick: Okay. All right, now I know what I'm doing for the next 30 seconds, I guess.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: But yeah, I think just, "I don't know what I'm doing, but thank you so much." And I think the idea is, "Oh, let me know when I need to let you know by." Because maybe you're buying tickets for something or you're trying to make plans for some trip or something. Then like, "Give me a deadline, and then I'll let you know by that time if I can do it or not."

Leah: Also, I do feel like it's a real thing that sometimes holidays come up and we're exhausted, and we wish that we had just stayed home in our pajammies. And so the idea that you want to sort of have flexibility around a holiday is completely relatable.

Nick: Yeah, totally. So I think just, yeah, the honest, direct approach. How novel! That's the way to go here.

Leah: Perf.

Nick: So our next question is quote, "I'm pretty sure this happens all the time. I have an office with a glass door. When I'm uninterruptible, I close the door. However, too many people stick their faces up to the glass and wave, waiting for me to give them the signal that it's okay to interrupt me when it is not. How do I get people to keep on walking by my door when it's closed? Is a 'Do Not Disturb' sign on my desk too pushy? I can't get rid of or cover the glass."

Leah: I felt like you were almost gonna break into a song that had to do with walking, and I loved it.

Nick: Yeah, we don't have the license to whatever song that would be, so you don't get it.

Leah: I love the visual I got of the person sticking their face on the glass. Like, in my visual, they went right up on it.

Nick: Oh, no, no. Their nose was pushed up, so it gave them, like, pig nose.

Leah: Yes! And they got the breathing on the glass, and you on the other side are like, "Oh, my goodness."

Nick: Yeah. I mean, she took off the best option that I had, which was cover the glass. So that's not gonna work.

Leah: I think we get one of those—you know, those little suction cups?

Nick: Yes, something that would say normally "Baby On Board."

Leah: Yes.

Nick: But then we change it to "Do Not Disturb."

Leah: Yeah. Or they have, like, cute little signs you can hang off those, and I think you can get one that says "On a Phone Meeting" or "In a Meeting." So people see it, and we just put it right in the middle of the door when we close it.

Nick: Yes. Or if it's glass, you can actually put it on the other side of the glass at, like, eye level. I think you don't want to have it on your desk. That's too far away.

Leah: No, put it on the glass.

Nick: It needs to be at the glass where people would normally be standing, yes.

Leah: No, I think you put it on your side facing out.

Nick: Yes. Yeah, so they can't touch it.

Leah: Yeah, they can't touch it. Nobody can flip it over. You're clearly in a meeting. It could be a phone meeting, a Zoom meeting.

Nick: Or you're just trying to get stuff done without all you people bothering me.

Leah: Yeah, but I think you say "In a Meeting."

Nick: No, I think just "Do Not Disturb" is enough. I don't think you need to explain what you're doing. I think it would be nice to put some time on it, because I think people will respect the sign more if it feels, like, immediate. Like, if it said "Do Not Disturb Until 2:00 p.m.," then, like, that actually feels real. Like, "Oh, actually, really I mean it. Don't disturb me until two o'clock." Whereas if it just says "Do Not Disturb," that feels a little general, right?

Leah: Yeah. I think that you could then get one of those dry erase boards.

Nick: Oh, dry erase! Yeah, that's good.

Leah: If you want to be specific. That's why I like "In A Meeting," because it sounds like it will end, as opposed to a "Do Not Disturb."

Nick: Well, I think my point is that offering when you can be disturbed again is nice for the passerby. Like, "Don't disturb me now, but in two hours you can disturb me."

Leah: Hmm. Yes.

Nick: So is this that easy? Did we just solve this problem?

Leah: I'm hoping our letter writer gives that a try and see if it works.

Nick: Okay. Dry erase board.

Leah: And then I think there's also a commitment to ignoring people who're standing at your door.

Nick: Yes! Yes, you have to teach people how you want to be treated.

Leah: So if they're standing there reading the sign, like, very aggressively hoping that they'll pull your attention, you're gonna have to ignore them.

Nick: Well, what do you do? I mean, do you just shrug? You don't make eye contact.

Leah: I hate to do a callback, but you do ...

Nick: A cut?

Leah: You do a cut. [laughs]

Nick: Do you do a sublime cut or do you do a cut infernal?

Leah: I would do a sublime cut.

Nick: Okay. All right. That's nice. What you can't see is Leah's now looking up towards the heavens.

Leah: I looked up.

Nick: Okay.

L:We would have to add a new cut in these modern days, which is a look directly into your device cut. A tech cut. We'll call it a tech cut.

Nick: Oh, yes. A cut technologique. Right. Okay.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: Yeah. Now one idea I did have—I don't know how practical this is. Can we rotate the desk so your back is to the door?

Leah: I could never have my back to the door.

Nick: It's not great feng shui.

Leah: Well, it also feels vulnerable, you know? What if a bear comes in the office? You have no idea.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, if you were working in Maine, that is a possibility.

Leah: Just seems like some sort of a fire hazard. You know what I mean?

Nick: Fire hazard?

Leah: I don't know. It seems dangerous. It seems dangerous to have your back to the door.

Nick: Okay. All right. We'll take that off the table. All right. We're back to dry erase board.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So do you have questions for us? Let us know. You can let us know through our website,, or you can leave us a voicemail or send us a text message: (267) CALL-RBW.

Nick: And we're back, and now it's time to play a game we like to call Vent or Repent.

Leah: Vent or Repent!

Nick: Which is our opportunity to vent about some bad etiquette experience we've had recently. Or we can repent for some etiquette faux pas we've committed. So Leah, would you like to vent or repent?

Leah: [sighs] You know, it's always such a toss up.

Nick: Is it though?

Leah: No. But I want to pretend.

Nick: [laughs] Okay.

Leah: I'm gonna vent, Nick.

Nick: Okay. What has happened to you?

Leah: This vent actually, I feel embarrassed by it.

Nick: Oh!

Leah: You know when something happens where you're like—and they're like, "No, this is them."

Nick: Hmm.

Leah: This is never—I don't think this has ever happened to me this directly. I've heard about this happening. This has never happened to me. I was at an event, a comedy event, and I'm talking to a gentleman who's another comic. We're not close friends, but we have worked together. We are mid-conversation. Like, not even a breathing point in a sentence.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: And he—a person who books the show walked by us. He turned his back to me mid-sentence and walked off.

Nick: Walked off?

Leah: Walked off!

Nick: Not just like a "Hey, Chad!"

Leah: No. Left me standing there alone. I was standing there alone. He just turned his back and walked away.

Nick: Oh, wow!

Leah: I mean, I literally was like, not even—I even understand, like, it's a work person that you want to ...

Nick: Oh, definitely want to catch his eye.

Leah: "Excuse me one second, I gotta—oh, I really wanted to talk to this person." Mid-sentence, turns his back to me, walks away, and I'm just standing there all by myself.

Nick: It's like, "Oh, have you caught that new episode?"

Leah: Boom.

Nick: Gone.

Leah: Yes.

Nick: [laughs]

Leah: And, like, not even a finger.

Nick: No gestures indicating "I'll be right back."

Leah: Nothing.

Nick: A pause. "I'm so sorry. Excuse me for a moment."

Leah: None of it. Just boom! Gone. And I'm just—and I was the only other person in the conversation, so I'm just standing there by myself.

Nick: And so obviously he came back to apologize and resume the conversation.

Leah: No.

Nick: Oh, no, he did not? Oh, how weird.

Leah: I didn't get a message on Instagram.

Nick: Oh!

Leah: He didn't come back.

Nick: I mean, what do we do with this?

Leah: We just feel momentarily hurt.

Nick: Uh-huh.

Leah: And we recognize that we are in a business with people.

Nick: No, I do not give that excuse. I am so sorry. That is not how things are done. No!

Leah: No, I don't either. I know. It was just incredibly rude.

Nick: Yeah, I'm sorry that happened to you. And for me, I would also like to vent.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: And so there were two unrelated events last weekend, but maybe they were related. Maybe it's like quantum entanglement. You know, in quantum physics, where you have quantum particles that affect each other over great distances? Yeah, you know, like that. So there were two people on cell phones. And so one episode happened in a restaurant. And I'm at the next table, and this woman is on the phone. Full conversation. Just having a conversation that does not feel like immediate or necessary or emergency or whatever. And the person she's dining with is just sort of sitting there twiddling his thumbs, eating some roll. Okay, fine. And then she passes the phone to him, and then he proceeds to have this entire conversation with the same person about nothing at all. And then she has some roll. And so I was like, "What is happening here?" And then I was thinking, like, is it rude? Because they're both doing it to each other, so they both have the same etiquette values. So maybe that's fine. Maybe it's fine.

Nick: Episode two happens in a store. And I am next in line, and at the cashier is a woman who's doing a return, but she's on her phone the entire time.

Leah: No, she is not.

Nick: And the cashier, of course, has some questions. There's some follow up that is required here. "Oh, will you be doing an exchange? What is actually wrong with it? Do you have your receipt? Do you have your original form of payment?" And the woman on the phone is acting like she's being so inconvenienced, and that the cashier is being rude for interrupting her phone call. And it's sort of like, no, you have stepped up to the cashier. You're the one being rude. But again, it was sort of like, is this affecting my life? Is this rude? Is this a vent? And then I was like, oh, no, no. This is the butterfly effect. You know, there's that scene in Jurassic Park where Jeff Goldblum is trying to explain what chaos theory is, and he's like, "If a butterfly flaps its wings in the Amazonian jungle, then there'll be a storm in Europe." And how everything is connected. And so, yeah, these people, they're flapping their little phone wings and they're causing etiquette storms all around the world. And that affects everybody. And so, yes, I was not directly affected by these people in the restaurant, I was not directly affected by this person at the cashier. But as a society, we are all affected. And so I was like, yeah.No, that's a good event.

Leah: Absolutely. And it's like, it affects your fellow humans like that poor woman who's just trying to do her job getting a return.

Nick: She's like, "Ma'am, is this a return? Is there something wrong?" "One minute!"

Leah: [gasps]

Nick: [laughs]

Leah: Oh!

Nick: I think she may have even said, "I'm on the phone."

Leah: Oh!

Nick: [laughs] It's like, yeah, well maybe finish your phone call and then come back.

Leah: Oh my goodness!

Nick: So we have our work cut out for us, Leah.

Leah: We really do.

Nick: We really do. [laughs] All right. Well, another couple thousand episodes, maybe we'll solve all the world's problems, we'll achieve world peace and then we can retire.

Leah: Oh!

Nick: So Leah, what have we learned?

Leah: I learned, and I'm so incredibly delighted by, because it's gonna visually replay in my mind, is the cut.

Nick: Oh yes.

Leah: The drama!

Nick: And I learned that sometimes you'll have an answer that I agree with and I think it's totally correct.

Leah: Right? I mean, it was beautiful. It was beautiful.

Nick: It's bound to happen once.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: Well, thank you, Leah.

Leah: Thank you, Nick.

Nick: And thanks to you out there for listening. I'd send you a handwritten note on my custom stationery if I could.

Leah: He would!

Nick: So for your homework this week, we would love it if you would check out our website, click on "Monthly Membership," and see if supporting our show on Patreon is something you'd like to do.

Leah: We have videos!

Nick: There's videos. Leah has permission to upload them without supervision or review.

Leah: [laughs] There's no review process. I actually have one scheduled tomorrow that I accidentally put the wrong time. It's an uneven—it's like, you know, 11:03 or something. Instead of, you know, 11:00, 11:15. And then I was like, I'm not even gonna—I'm just going to let it be at 11:03.

Nick: So become a member on Patreon and you can see it. And we'll see you next time.

Leah: Bye!

Nick: Bye!

Nick: All right, Leah. It's time for Cordials of Kindness, the part of the show that you make us do, but I only give you 30 seconds to do it. Ready, set, go!

Leah: I'd like to do a shout out to Bill.

Nick: Okay, who's Bill?

Leah: Bill is one of our listeners who sent us an email inviting me to Arizona.

Nick: Oh, yes. Yes, I noted he didn't invite me to Arizona.

Leah: Because he knows that you don't struggle with daylight savings. And it was because I appreciate that Bill recognized that I've discussed my hatred for daylight savings because it always throws me into an emotional turmoil. So Bill invited me to move to Arizona, so I didn't have to deal with that anymore. And I really appreciated that.

Nick: Invitations are lovely.

Leah: Invitations for—when somebody is like, "Oh, I get you. Why don't you come over here?" [laughs]

Nick: Well, thank you, Bill.

Leah: Thank you, Bill!

Nick: And for me, we just got a nice review, which is quote, "I would like to send you both a quick thank you for all you do each week. I'm a middle school teacher in Manhattan, and have started listening to your show as I get ready and commute. Your chemistry as co-hosts is amazing, and your witty banter greases my gears rather than grinds them. Unfailingly after listening to you two, I arrive at work with a smile, ready to meet the day ahead. I've shared your podcast with several colleagues, and we all agree you're the best."

Leah: That is so nice.

Nick: That is very nice. So thank you. We really appreciate it.