Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah tackle eating soup, giving and receiving compliments, doing business with rude people, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we could.)
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Hosts: Nick Leighton & Leah Bonnema
Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton
Theme Music: Rob Paravonian
Nick: Do you eat soup the wrong way? Do you comment on the appearance of strangers? Do you use your phone in spin class? Were you raised by wolves? Let's find out.
Here are some 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 we're in New York today. And let's just get right down to it with our amuse-bouche.
Nick: So, for today's amuse-bouche, there appears to be quite a bit of confusion about soup.
Nick: And I don't know. Are we confused about soup?
Leah: I don't know.
Nick: So, in front of us, Leah, there is a beautiful bowl and spoon. Now, please, demonstrate. How do you eat soup?
Leah: I feel like I don't want to.
Nick: I want you to.
Leah: First off, I'm left-handed.
Nick: Okay. But what we're going to demonstrate, does not matter.
Nick: So, Leah's gonna ...
Leah: Can I move the microphone?
Nick: You can. You can move the microphone. Sure.
Leah: You can just do a blow-by-blow.
Leah: I feel like I'm about to let Nick down. So ...
Nick: Oh. No, if you do this correctly, then that'll be a let down.
Leah: Oh, okay. Good. Phew. All right. Here we go.
Nick: So Leah's is gonna be taking the bowl and ...
Leah: I'm gonna put it as if it was in front of me.
Nick: Okay. So Leah has the bowl in front of her and she is holding the spoon correctly. Yes? And now she is putting it ... And she is, okay. So Leah did 50 percent correctly. So what Leah did is she took the spoon and she moved it away from her. But then she put the spoon in her mouth like she was drinking cough syrup. So she got 50 percent there. And if you could see what she's doing now with this spoon. All right. Thank God. This is just a podcast. So with soup, it is correct, you want to go away from you.
Leah: I got 50 percent, right. That's way more than we all expected..
Nick: You know, that's passing, I guess. So, many people are confused by the expression away from you. And because this is the etiquette rule and maybe people don't understand what that is. Or maybe you out there listening know what's happening and this will just serve to validate the behavior you've been demonstrating all along. Well done. So the idea of moving away from you is you go from the 6 o'clock to the twelve o'clock position on the bowl. That's what it means to do it away from you. You don't drink the soup from the far side of the spoon, which some people do think.
Leah: You also don't drink from the bowl.
Nick: You also don't drink from the bowl. That was not on my list of things to cover, but I'm glad you brought it up.
Leah: I feel like we might as well just throw it in there in case.
Nick: You know, long as we're there.
Leah: Some people like to pick it up and spoon-pour it in.
Nick: Yes. In some cultures and in some cuisines, that's fine. But we're talking about good old American Campbell's soup here.
Nick: So you basically want to go from 6 o'clock to 12 o'clock. You want to scoop away from you. And the idea of this is that if there's any drips on the spoon, they will drop back into the bowl as the spoon is coming back towards your mouth. This is the point. Also, some people say that when you do it this way, it looks less like you're shoveling food into your mouth. And so somehow it looks more elegant.
Nick: And so that's why you want to do it. Which, by the way, very popular on the Internet. I can't tell you how many soup videos I've watched on YouTube.
Nick: The genre of YouTube videos about soup etiquette? Vast.
Leah: People are really into soup.
Nick: One of the videos I saw came with a warning.
Nick: Caution. You know, "Use of this video..." It had a whole disclaimer about like, "Only do this under supervision, only do it with trained professionals." Yeah. There was a warning on the soup etiquette video.
Nick: So, no warnings here. Just go for it. Be wild.
Leah: Well, what did I do wrong?
Nick: It was the shoving the whole spoon into your mouth part. You want to sip the soup from the edge of the spoon.
Leah: So I've gotta slurp?
Nick: No. You just sip from the edge of the spoon. The long end of the spoon.
Leah: But then I'm, I'm... Okay.
Nick: I think you just have to go with this.
Leah: You're risking a slurp.
Nick: I would rather risk a slurp than seeing the entire spoon in your mouth.
Nick: That's my preference, you know.
Leah: You know, my instinct was to actually sip from the side. But then I got nervous about a slurp. So I was like, just put the whole thing in.
Nick: All right. Well, now we know. But, yes, you do not wanna make noise. This is a very good point.
Nick: So I appreciate your instinct to kind of keep it quiet.
Nick: You also want to be mindful to not scrape the bowl with the spoon. Like, don't do that.
Nick: In terms of tilting, you know, there's that last bit of soup. Emily Post, she says you can tell the bowl. This is okay. She says you have to tilt away from you, though.
Nick: And if it's a formal dinner, I don't think you actually want to do any tilting. Just leave the last bit of soup in the bowl.
Nick: But in less formal, I think you can tilt. Tilt away. And then when it comes to bread and sopping, you are allowed to sop some bread if it's not a super formal dinner, but you do one hand at a time. So you've got to put the spoon down. Then, with your right hand, pick up the bread. Dip. Eat. And then you can go back to the spoon. You can't have bread and spoon held together.
Nick: We don't do that. So, if you wanted to indicate that you're pausing or you'd like done, then what you want to do with the spoon depends on what kind of bowl you have. So if you've got one of those plate bowl things where it's really just like a bowl plate with a large rim, then you can leave the spoon in that to indicate you're pausing or you're done. If it's a bowl on another plate or it's a cup, then you would take the spoon and put it on the plate.
Nick: You ideally want to avoid ever putting used silverware back on a table.
Nick: So. That's soup. Soup in a nutshell.
Nick: I mean, we cover everything here.
Nick: And we're back. And now it's time for a question of etiquette. Let's go deep.
Leah: Let's go very deep.
Nick: So, I want to talk about compliments.
Leah: This is such a big issue.
Nick: Giving, getting, what's good, what's bad. So you love compliments?
Leah: I do. I love giving and receiving.
Nick: And there is such thing as a bad compliment.
Leah: Oh, definitely.
Nick: Or an inappropriate compliment.
Nick: So let's just talk about the ground rules for things to be mindful of when giving compliments where we might run into some trouble.
Nick: So I think in general, you want to try and keep compliments where it's about someone's actions and their accomplishments. You want to try and avoid talking about people's appearance. And I think you don't wanna talk about people's body parts.
Leah: Yeah, I mean, I will compliment... I've seen some nails out there that are just fantastic, but I'm not complimenting ... The color. You know, people... I will say to a person, "I love those nails."
Nick: So I think you want to be mindful of whether or not you're talking about their nails or the color of the nails.
Nick: I think when we talk about color, I think that's a safer way to do it. But I think you also want to be mindful of what are we actually talking about. If it's like, "Oh, I love that color of your tight sweater." Like, that's a little different than, "I love your shoes."
Leah: Right. I will say to people that I know, not strangers, "This shirt is such a great color on you. It really pops."
Nick: Yeah. So I think that's a safer way to do it. I think when we talk about body parts, though, like, "Oh, I like the way your legs look in those pants." This is problematic.
Leah: Yeah, that is that is reserved for very close friends.
Nick: Right. Weight? We just do not talk when we talk about weight.
Leah: Don't talk about weight.
Nick: If it's up, if it's down, that's just off limits, I think, at all times.
Leah: All times.
Nick: There's never an occasion.
Leah: Although I have... I agree, a hundred percent. No, ninety nine percent.
Nick: What loophole can you find now, Leah Bonnema?
Leah: When somebody you know has been actively working on something, like maybe they're... I have friends that are bodybuilders, or somebody that's been on an eating plan. And I know that's something they've been working hard on. They've discussed it with me. I will say, "You look great."
Nick: So that would actually fall under the accomplishment category.
Nick: Because that's a little more about the accomplishment of achieving some body shape rather than just the shape itself.
Leah: I'll admit to this with all of our friends at home. Recently, a man came up to me and there was a group of people around. I wasn't talking about my body. And he said, "Oh, did you lose a ton of weight?" And I know he just meant it as a compliment, but a, you're implying that I weighed over a ton.
Nick: Right? Two thousand pounds.
Leah: Yeah. And then, now I'm in a group chat with everybody. You've drawn attention to something that I wasn't, and I feel very insecure.
Nick: Now everyone's looking like, "Did she?"
Leah: Now everybody's like, "Did she lose a ton?" And I don't want to talk about it. I hadn't brought it up. But I know that he was just trying to give me a compliment.
Nick: Yes. People try. People fail.
Leah: So that, it just makes it awkward for everyone.
Nick: Yeah. So I think you just want to be mindful of appearance. Anything that has to do with anything attached to someone's body. This is always a little tricky. One good way to tell whether or not a compliment is okay or not is if you can explain the compliment in a way that's not creepy. So if you're like, "I love your positive attitude. It makes me feel great to be around you." That's a nice compliment. The explanation for why it's a compliment, not creepy.
Nick: Or like, "You're so good with PowerPoint. I know our client feels like they're in really good hands." Also fine. Non-creepy explanation. B, "I love your eyes. Hard to say why that's why I like them."
Leah: Nick's using it as an example because there is a coffee shop near my house where they are regularly staffed by people with the most phenomenal eyes. And I just want to say, "Great job on those eyeballs."
Nick: What's going on with the genetics in this coffee shop?
Leah: And I'll text Nick because I won't do it. I guess deep inside I knew that I can't do it. But I've been like, "Can't I just be like, 'Wow, those eyes?'"
Nick: My text message is just a sad face. Yeah. So you don't want to do that. And I think the rule against like, not commenting on people's appearance? I think the more familiar you are with somebody, the easier that is, if you know it's going to be received as a compliment.
Nick: Like, you know, if I wanted to say something nice about Leah. Something specific is escaping me at this exact moment.
Leah: Wow. He's gonna have to dig deep.
Nick: Come up with something quick, awkward. But like, "Your skin looks great today."
Leah: Oh, thank you.
Nick: And it's like, she knows that this is not being said in a sexual harassment way.
Leah: Yeah, I don't feel harassed.
Nick: Great. And I was looking at GQ magazine, they had another test to see whether or not something is creepy or okay. If it's an I statement like, "I love that shirt." This is often more problematic than just, "That shirt is awesome." When it's the I, it sometimes makes it feel like you are doing something for my benefit.
Leah: Got it.
Nick: Like the niceness of your shirt is for me.
Nick: And that is sometimes a slippery thing. So that that's just something to be mindful of. So let's talk about how to accept a compliment.
Nick: So I'm actually not great at this. This is something I'm working on actively. I have to work on things, too.
Leah: We're all shocked.
Nick: So Miss Manners says that the key to the accepting of a compliment is just to say thank you and kind of leave it there. Because once you start explaining the compliment or trying to be modest about it, like, "Oh, this sweater? Oh, I've had it for ages," or "Oh, I was just lucky." When you start explaining it, now it becomes a conversation. It's not a passing pleasantry. And now it's a conversation, which is this thing about the compliment. And now that's kind of rude because you're wanting to belabor the point about how great I am or whatever this thing is that we're talking about. And by dragging it out, this actually is no longer polite.
Leah: Right. You're also giving the other person a job.
Nick: Right. They have to...
Leah: Now they have to defend their compliment.
Nick: Like, "No, no, I mean it." Like, "No." "Yes." Yeah, and it goes on forever. So you just want to say thank you and not try and justify the thing or explain it away.
Nick: And for me, I actually find this very difficult. So I'm working on that.
Leah: I think that's great.
Nick: So thank you for helping me work on that, Leah.
Leah: No problem, thank you.
Nick: Thank you.
Leah: Thank you.
Nick: No, thank you.
Nick: And we're back. And now it's time to take some questions from the wilderness.
Leah: What if I started howling there?
Nick: I would take it. Yeah, absolutely. If you want to howl, let it fly.
Our first question is, "I have a business etiquette question. I took a meeting at a company as a favor for an old friend. The president of the company and two associates came to my office and we had a really nice meeting. I wrote a thank you e-mail to the group an hour after the meeting and followed up on part of our conversation. I did not receive a thanks in return." Hmmm...
"A month later, someone from that company who I had not met reached out to me, wanting to set up additional introductions of people. I ignored him. Now, over two months later, the president of that company has been reaching out to me, wanting more introductions. I like them, but I feel like their lack of common business etiquette does not encourage me to help them build additional context at my prestigious firm. Am I being too uptight or should I just get over it?" Ooh...
Leah: Ooh, I was very excited to see what you were going to say about this.
Nick: So, here's the thing. In business, sometimes if you can make some coin, you might overlook bad etiquette. You know, sometimes you have to do business with people that you do not respect, that you do not like. And if you thought you might be able to make some money with this relationship, okay, let it go. Just accept the fact that these are bad people. But you might make some money. That's, I think, one approach.
Leah: Right. I didn't get the idea that that's what was happening here.
Nick: Yeah, I got the feeling that this is purely a favor and this does nothing for me.
Nick: In which case I think you could follow up after some time has passed now with an e-mail that sort of like, "Oh, I am so sorry. I was under the impression after our last meeting when you didn't follow up to my e-mail that you weren't interested in doing business. So, forgive me for being under that impression." I think you could say this in a different way, but that's kind of the sentiment. Like, I don't really want to do business with you.
Leah: Right. I think you could even say that in a way... This is what my therapist would say that you should say.
Leah: I'm guessing, because we've had a thing like this very recently.
Leah: And it would be..
Nick: Ripped from the headlines of your last session.
Leah: No co-pay for you guys. I would be very direct. "Hey, I got your e-mail. After our meeting last time, you know, because..." And I would say, "Because so-and-so asked for us to meet," reminding them I'm doing this as a favor for a friend. "And I followed up with a thank you, great to meet you. And I never heard back except for when blank asked for something, and now you guys are asking for something. This feels uncomfortable to me."
Nick: Okay. Call him out, but politely.
Leah: Yeah, no extra words. You know what I mean? You're just saying exactly what happened. There's no emotional comment on it.
Nick: No editorializing.
Leah: Nope. Just here it is. And I feel slightly uncomfortable about this.
Leah: Let me know your thoughts.
Nick: Okay. "I look forward to hearing from you."
Leah: Yeah, "Look forward to hearing from you." And then that's it, because that way you get it out of you. And you're not... You're just saying exactly what happened. This is what happened.
Nick: I like that. Yeah, it's sort of business-like, It's professional.
Leah: And you're giving them the opportunity to right a wrong.
Nick: Yes. If they apologize and are sincere or not sincere about it, I guess. But if they apologize and then, I guess, you would maybe agree to set up additional introductions for them.
Leah: Yeah.One could think of it as... I need to think about it this way so I don't feel guilty. I'm giving them an opportunity to fix the situation.
I think if you don't want to actually do anything more for these people, I think it's a blessing that they did a bad etiquette thing which gives you a free pass.
Nick: To not engage further. I sometimes enjoy when somebody has an etiquette digression because then it lets me be free to end it.
Nick: When I kind of always wanted to end a relationship. But like, "Oh, you did a bad thing. And now I have the high ground."
Leah: Yeah, you can just go.
Nick: And I get to end it. And sometimes I enjoy that.
Leah: Right. It's true. And you could also just tell your friend, "Hey, I'm letting you know."
Leah: I did this as a favor for you and these people are being poo-poos.
Nick: Yeah. All right. Our next question says, "My boyfriend and I have been going out for about five months now, and whenever I go to his place, I always feel the need to let him know I've arrived and then wait for him to open the door despite him telling me that I can just walk in. Is it weird or rude to still feel as though I need permission to enter his house every time I'm over? Any tips y'all can spare?" And they wrote y'all. "Any tips y'all can spare on how to get over the self-imposed awkwardness of just walking in?"
Leah: I love y'all.
Nick: So first of all, where is this magical place where we don't lock doors?
Leah: They could also have already been in the building. I mean, I'm from a place where people don't lock doors.
Nick: Yeah, that's crazy.
Leah: No, it's just not the city.
Nick: Okay. Well, I have trouble relating to that aspect of this question and I'm hung up on it. I guess there's nothing rude about respecting people's boundaries. I think that's fine. I think that's a nice baseline.
Leah: I think that you could meet both needs. You could knock and walk. You could still announce that you're coming in. So you're knocking, but then you're opening and saying, "Hey, I'm here."
Nick: Yeah, I like a good, "Honey, I'm home."
Leah: That way you still knock because you feel like you want to not just... You're not just walking in.
Leah: But then you're also taking the suggestion that you just come in. So you're doing both.
Nick: Yeah. I guess what you want to avoid here is barging in on someone.
Nick: That's the thing we want to avoid. So, I guess, if you are arriving at the appointed hour and they're expecting you at this time and you show up at this time, then this is fine to walk in.
Leah: Because they've specifically said you can just come in.
Leah: So you can do both. You do your knock for you and you walk in for them.
Nick: Okay. All right, this is a nice compromise. I guess, once the relationship gets to the point where you get a key, then we've really arrived somewhere.
Leah: I mean, no pressure.
Leah: Also, because there's no keys. This is...
Nick: Oh, right. There's no keys in this world. Yeah. We just.. Everything is just held together with string. Okay. So do you have questions out there? Of course you do. So send them to us. You can send them to us through our website — wereyouraisedbywolves.com — or you can text into us or you can leave us a voicemail— (267) CALL-RBW.
Nick: And we're back. And now it's time to play a game we like to call Vent or Repent. And this is our opportunity to vent about some bad etiquette thing that's happened to us this week. Or we can repent for some bad etiquette faux pas we've committed. So, Leah, would you like a vent or repent?
Leah: I'm gonna vent.
Nick: Bring it.
Leah: This is spin class. I don't know. My spin class is dark.
Leah: It's dark. And there's a few women at my spin class who keep their phones out and then they look at their phone. It's a dark room and everybody's there. This is my only 50 minutes to myself.
Nick: This is you time.
Leah: I understand. I've been take... I've taken care of someone before when they were sick and I had to be available all the time. And I would need to exercise, but I would sit in the back row and I would put the brightness so low that it wasn't disturbing. And you go into the front or even the middle, and then you keep your phone light all the way up and you just keep checking your phone? You're disrupting the whole class. It's unbelievable. What is... In the first few minutes, I try to be like, okay, maybe that person is going through something, duh duh duh duh duh. And then halfway through it I'm like, "My whole exercise experience turns into me trying to not lose my temper." Why would you do that?
Nick: Because it's rude.
Leah: It's so rude.
Nick: Yes. I think anytime you are disturbing someone and it's not required medically, that is rude. Yeah. And in spin class, I think because people are there for like me, me, me time, it becomes selfish me time. And you do things to the detriment of the people around you because you're like, "This time is for me. This hour is all about me." And you forget that you're still in public with other people.
Nick: And people kind of forget that there is still etiquette involved for me time.
Leah: And everybody in that room is trying to take a break from their phones.
Leah: That's why we took a class.
Leah: And we left our phones in the locker because we're not animals.
Nick: So, for me today, I'm going to repent. I know.
Leah: Oh, my goodness.
Nick: Mark this day.
Leah: I feel like I need to.
Nick: You'll never forget where you were.
Leah: I almost need to lie down.
Nick: So I was at Chelsea Market, which is near where I live, grabbing a quick bite. Delicious Cambodian place, by the way, for New York. Pop in, it's great. And I was having this rice bowl thing and it came with a lime and I was eating at Chelsea Market. There's some like high top tables and other people are around. And I squeezed the lime and this lime juice squirted so hard supersonic—you could hear the sound barrier being broken—square in the face of this poor woman. It was so fast and it was alarming. It was as if this tiny little line which had like a gallon worth of liquid in it somehow...
Leah: Oh, my goodness.
Nick: It was remarkable. And so, I apologized, obviously. Got the napkins. All of that. I was so embarrassed because I did the right thing with the lime, which is you're supposed to shield the lime with your other hand. That's how you deal with lime wedges and squeezing. Same goes for lemon. I did it. But just the arc of the juice just leaped over my hand in some miraculous way. It was the jet stream. Coriolis effect, maybe. Hard to say what physical properties were involved, but it was a lot. And so I felt bad that I had done this to this woman. Turns out no permanent damage was done. She dried off. It was okay. But...
Nick: It was a moment.
Nick: It was a moment. So, you know what? I'm human, too. Yeah.
Nick: I'm not a God. I do bad things.
Leah: Well, you immediately took care of a situation. So your bad things is a lime squeeze so I think...
Nick: Well, you know, it's all... It's a spectrum.
Nick: So, Leah, what have we learned?
Leah: I think maybe you want to go first on this one.
Nick: I learned that you loves compliments. But who doesn't?
Nick: And you? What have you learned?
Leah: I've learned... I really like the way you talked about, the way you articulated compliments. What are appropriate compliments? Someone's body versus like a thing they're wearing. I felt that, you know, when I give compliments, where that line is. But I think you articulated it very nicely.
Nick: Ok. So we're not going to compliment any baristas on having nice eyes.
Leah: Yeah. I never did. I just really want to.
Leah: You guys should see the eyes on these baristas near where I live. I mean, mind boggling. I don't know if that's how they're hiring there. But every time I'm just taken aback.
Nick: Well, thank you, Leah.
Leah: Thank you, Nick.
Nick: And thanks to you out there for listening. If I had your address, I'd send you a handwritten note on my custom-engraved stationery. Please subscribe to the show wherever you listen to podcasts and leave us a nice review. Check out our Instagram, which is kind of adorable.
Leah: It's so fun.
Nick: It is fun. So you actually would enjoy it, I think, as a listener. If you like the show, you'll like our Instagram. And like us on Facebook and check out our website. You can send us a question or sign up for our newsletter. And now, hopefully, people won't ask, "were you raised by wolves?" See you next time.
Nick: Ok, Leah, it's time for our petit four of kindness.
Nick: Our kindness cordial.
Leah: I'm forcing Nick into doing kindness cordials.
Nick: This is Leah's opportunity. I'm giving her exactly 30 seconds to say kind things that have happened. Ready? Go.
Leah: Okay, so very recently, I stopped going to the gym because all these things were happening. And then I... It was a struggle to get back into it. And two different friends, and they're gym friends, and they've become closer friends. But they both went out of their way to like, meet me on the corner and be like, "Let's just do this." And then we went in together and it was totally fun. And another friend saved a yoga mat for me and I didn't even ask. It just made me feel really loved and supported. And it was really wonderful and I really appreciated it so much. Twenty nine seconds.
Nick: Oh, nicely done. Okay, right out of the buzzer. Thank you, Leah.
Leah: Nick's not gonna do 30 seconds of kindness.
Nick: I mean, I'll do 30 seconds of kindness.
Leah: All right.
Nick: Okay, fine.
Leah: Maybe we should bump yours up to a minute.
Nick: Oh, god. All right. Now it's torture. I'll give you 30 seconds. So I was in my favorite coffee...I don't even need 30 seconds. It was just, I was in my local coffee shop and they bought my Americano there today.
Leah: That's so nice.
Nick: They're like, "Oh, looks like you're having a nice day. Here's a way to make your day nicer.
Leah: That is so nice.
Nick: It was very nice. So I don't even need 30 seconds.
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