Aug. 15, 2022

Harvesting Office Cilantro, Returning Dirty Aprons, Painting Nails on Airplanes, and More

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about harvesting cilantro at the office, returning aprons dirty, painting nails on airplanes, and much more.

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about harvesting cilantro at the office, returning dirty aprons, painting nails on airplanes, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we could.)

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  • What do I do about a coworker who picked all the cilantro in our office garden?
  • How do I decline to say hello on speakerphone to one of my parents' guests?
  • Should borrowed aprons be washed before returning?
  • How do you get rid of a neighbor who overstayed their visit?
  • Is it OK to paint your nails on an airplane?
  • What do I do about married coworkers who speak to each other as if they were at home?







Hosts: Nick Leighton & Leah Bonnema

Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton

Theme Music: Rob Paravonian



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Episode 151


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Nick: Hey, everybody. It's Nick Leighton.

Leah: And it's Leah Bonnema.

Nick: And we had so many great questions from you all in the wilderness ...

Leah: [howls]

Nick: That we have a bonus episode. So here we go. Our first question is quote, "I'm looking for a pleasant way to handle a situation at work. We have an outdoor space, and this year I decided to plant it. I prepared the soil, purchased plants with my own money, and had been the only one weeding and watering it. This week, someone harvested all of my cilantro leaves and left me with just stems. I am floored, as my plan was to harvest the tomatoes, peppers and cilantro at the same time and make salsa to share with the whole office. Now that the cilantro is gone, I feel a need to address this issue because I want to make sure that I get to harvest the other things that I planted. Is a note too tacky?"

Leah: Who is going into an office garden and just clearing out their cilantro?

Nick: Oh, I know. Somebody who doesn't like cilantro.

Nick: No, I think it's the opposite. I think it's somebody who loves cilantro.

Leah: No, no. I think this is somebody at the office. They don't like cilantro. They have that thing, that genetic thing that makes cilantro taste like soap to them. And they know this salsa party is coming and they're like, "No, I don't want cilantro in my salsa. So I'm gonna go and I'm gonna harvest it all so we can't have cilantro in the salsa." I think that's what happened.

Leah: Oh, wow! That's such another level than what I was thinking.

Nick: Yeah, I think this is diabolical and deliberate. No? Too far?

Leah: I mean, it's gotta be deliberate. You didn't accidentally ...

Nick: Oh, it's deliberate. Yes. "Oops! I accidentally fell into the bushes with some scissors. I don't know how that happened." Yeah. No, this is somebody who loves cilantro and was like, "Oh, this is clearly just cilantro for all of us. And so I would like some. All of it."

Leah: All of it.

Nick: All of it.

Leah: I mean ...

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: I don't think a note is tacky.

Nick: No.

Leah: This is how I would start the note.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: And I assume it's a note, like it's like a work group email.

Nick: Yeah, I think this is an email.

Leah: And however you address the group, I wrote, "Hey, y'alls—" that's probably not it, but that's not the point that I was getting to. The point is I would re-explain it in case people didn't know that you purchased the seeds and have tended the garden, and in preparation to make salsa for everybody ...

Nick: Right.

Leah: And that the cilantro has been ...

Nick: Harvested.

Leah: Harvested.

Nick: Uh-huh.

Leah: And if people moving forward could please wait to harvest so we can enjoy this salsa together.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, I think that's a very nice way to do it. I had a similar email to write. I think this is actually probably not the way to go, but I do like it and it is quote, "Unfortunately, a wild animal got into the office and ate all of the cilantro that was being grown for an end-of-the-season office party. If you see this wild animal again, please report it to animal control. And if anybody would like anything from the garden, just let me know and I'll let you know if we're gonna use it before you pick." How's that? Do you like that?

Leah: [laughs] I actually—people at home can't see me. I buried my head—my face in my hands. I laughed so hard. "A wild animal broke into the office."

Nick: Yeah. I mean, I think that's a kind of a cheeky way to do it. So actually ...

Leah: Definitely cheeky. On Love Island, they would say "Cheeky."

Nick: Very cheeky. Yeah. So I guess you would have to do the email in the tone that works for your office. So whatever that tone is. But I think to just explain, "Oh, this is what this is, please don't do this again, because this is the goal here." I think that's totally fair.

Leah: And I think it's fair to remind people that you purchased these things, you've been growing them.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, I understand that impulse, but it's very difficult to be like, "I just did all this work and spent all this money and put in all this effort and somebody ate my cilantro." I think it's hard to mention, like, all the effort you made without coming across in a certain way. Which I think you have to just make a decision: do you want to come across that way or not? Which maybe you do.

Leah: But I think there's a way you could say it without coming across—you're just stating the facts because you did do all that work. And it's exceptionally rude for somebody to go in there and just plow your fields.

Nick: Yeah, it is exceptionally rude. Yeah. Yeah, fair enough.

Leah: But I think you could say, you know, "I purchased these plants and have been cultivating them for the office party where I want to make salsa." That's just one sentence. It's not ...

Nick: Yeah, that's true. Right. Yeah, that's very neutral.

Leah: And then say, "Somebody must have accidentally harvested the cilantro."

Nick: Could have been a wild animal. Who can say?

Leah: Who can say?

Nick: Who can say? So let's not do that again.

Leah: Also, please tell us when you find out. I mean, do we know who did this?

Nick: Of course we do. I mean, there's only one person in the office that's capable of this, right? Like, we know. Right? We have to know. It can't be totally a mystery.

Leah: I don't know. I would be shocked.

Nick: But, like, in every office, like, we kind of have a suspicion and be like, "Oh, who is capable of this?" So I think we know.

Leah: Yeah, but maybe we're wrong and it's the person we think is least capable, and there are sinister cilantro stealers, and they just come off as like the most lovely person in the whole world.

Nick: "Sinister cilantro stealers?"

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: Say that 10 times fast.

Leah: So keep us posted, please. And we're sorry about your cilantro. And it's lovely that you're making salsa for everyone.

Nick: It is lovely.

Leah: And I'm just gonna say I love salsa.

Nick: Wow. Controversial, Leah. Real controversial. [laughs]

Leah: Well, I'm just bringing it up because it was cleaning out the refrigerator time, and I noticed—at any given time I have, like, seven different kinds of salsas working in—you know, some days I want this kind of salsa. And it's always my favorite—I'm not even gonna call it a condiment. I'm gonna call it a food.

Nick: Oh, do you just eat salsa off a spoon?

Leah: I mean, maybe I do. Maybe I don't.

Nick: Who can say?

Leah: Who can say?

Nick: So our next question is quote, "I live in a different city than my family. Today, I called to speak to my parents, and during the call, they were having their carpets replaced by somebody I went to high school with 20 years ago. My mom asked if she should put me on speaker so I could say hello. I have not spoken to him since I was 17 and I declined. This is not the first time when I've called to speak to my mother and if she has a guest or a family friend or someone I've not seen since high school, she asks if I would like to speak to them. I have everyone's phone number, email or social media contacts and I do know how to contact them on my own. I feel put on the spot and then rude for saying no. Anyone else have this problem?"

Leah: I never like to talk to anybody when I wasn't ready.

Nick: [laughs] That's true. Sure. Yeah, you don't want to be caught off guard.

Leah: Because I feel discombobulated.

Nick: I mean, you know, you should be nimble enough to be able to handle a spontaneous conversation, but I get that.

Leah: I'm not. I'm really not. [laughs]

Nick: Okay. Also, this is such a mom thing. Is this not such a mom thing?

Leah: It really is.

Nick: I feel like a lot of people probably have this experience. I mean, in general, yes, putting people on the spot is rude. And so you always want to give people an out. And I think the problem here is mom is not giving the letter-writer an out.

Leah: Yeah. And I think we could have a conversation with Mom separately.

Nick: Hmm.

Leah: "Hey, Mom, if I call and somebody's there, I feel uncomfortable going on speaker. I would like to just talk to you, please."

Nick: And hopefully when she's asking you, you're not already on speaker. And so when you're saying no, the person doesn't hear that part.

Leah: Yeah, I think you could also say, "I'm sort of in a hurry. I just wanted to check in with you. Tell them I said hi."

Nick: Yes, I think it's a, "Unfortunately, I've gotta run, but please send them my regards."

Leah: Yes.

Nick: I mean, this is what regards were invented for. This is why we have regards to give away.

Leah: That's what I was thinking. This is why we have regards.

Nick: Yes. And regards do no good if you're keeping them. You have to give your regards.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: Yes. So yes, give your regards. And what I love about regards is that they don't necessarily have to be warm or good or friendly. They're just regards. They're just a "Oh, I acknowledge you exist."

Leah: Which I think is the polite thing to do.

Nick: Absolutely.

Leah: "Tell him I said hello. Give him my regards. Mom, I called to talk to you."

Nick: Yeah, and I hope the carpets work out.

Leah: Yes!

Nick: So our next question is quote, "My husband and I recently attended a barbecue hosted by some of my colleagues. Like the other guests, we brought along some food and drink, and at the last minute also decided to bring an apron in case it would be useful for the person doing the barbecuing. Nobody had asked us to bring an apron, but it was gratefully received by one of the other guests who did all of the barbecuing and cooked delicious food for everyone. A good time was had by all. I forgot to take the apron home, and it was handed back to me—dirty and unwashed—by the host of the barbecue the next day at work. I don't see anything wrong with this, but my husband feels that someone, either the host or the cook, should have washed it first. Your thoughts?"

Leah: I have two thoughts on this that are absolutely conflicting.

Nick: So interesting. I have gone full circle. I have done several 180s to 360s. I've done a couple 270s. I don't know where on the circle I've landed on this. I also am like, oh, obviously there's one answer but, like, oh, actually, maybe not. All right. What is—what are your options?

Leah: Well, I think the reason that there's multiple answers is that it was forgotten. It wasn't like she left it and then was like, "Hey, you can have the rest of this." And so in this way, if she'd taken it when she left, it would have been dirty.

Nick: Okay. Interesting. So it is being returned to her in the state it would have been had she not been careless or forgetful.

Leah: I don't want to say she was careless. She was just probably taking so many different things with her she forgot.

Nick: True. Fine, fine. Okay.

Leah: And so if she grabbed it on the way out, it would have been dirty.

Nick: True. Yes. Because we would not have expected the host or the cook to have washed it during the party.

Leah: Right. So we're just grabbing it on the way out.

Nick: Okay. That's true.

Leah: And in that way, they're just trying to get it back to her as fast as possible because it wasn't a leave-this-at-your-house-until-I'm-back-next-time. It was a thing that she meant to take back.

Nick: Right. Okay. Okay. Yes, I agree with that.

Leah: So there's that side of it.

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: There's also the side that people might not know how to wash an apron. Like, sometimes aprons are different material.

Nick: That was what I was thinking, because I was thinking, like, yes, it actually probably would be courteous to wash it. Like, "Oh, thank you for bringing this. This was so nice of you. It actually was a real big help at the party. We enjoyed wearing it. It was useful. Here it is. We're returning it to you clean." But then, yeah, if it had barbecue stains on it and it was like my fancy apron that I love so much, then you did something where you washed it in such a way that now those stains are set and now you've ruined it, and maybe would it be better had you not done that? I definitely was thinking that.

Leah: And then the third one is what you just said, which is I always feel like we wash something before we return it. And then there are these two other thoughts. That's why it's just this circle.

Nick: It's a circle. Yeah. No, that's why I kept going round and around. And then I was thinking, okay, it would have been nice to offer to wash it before returning it. "Hey, letter-writer, you left the apron here. Would it be okay if we washed it before I brought it into the office?" And then the letter writer could say, like, "Oh, please don't bother. That's cashmere. I have a separate detergent I use on that."

Leah: Right. "I only use Woolite."

Nick: Or, "Oh, don't bother. Just bring it in." Or, "Oh, that would be totally fine. Thank you so much."

Leah: I love that idea.

Nick: Right?

Leah: And then that brings me to my first idea, which is they have this party.

Nick: Right.

Leah: And so ostensibly they're, like, picking up, they're getting everything back, and then they're trying to get her back this apron the next morning.

Nick: Right.

Leah: So I feel like maybe they were running out the door and they thought, "Oh, I also want to get her that apron," but they weren't even finished cleaning up from the party yet, you know? But they were so invested in getting it back.

Nick: True. So I guess the question is, what would have been better: the speed of the return or the condition of the apron?

Leah: And that we can't decide.

Nick: We can't make that decision for you. Right. I think only you can decide what was more important.

Leah: But I don't think this is a hard answer one way or the other.

Nick: No, I don't think there's anything definitive with this one, which is why it's a great question, I guess.

Leah: Because there are definitely things that I wouldn't want other people to wash.

Nick: But then would you let people borrow those things?

Leah: Well, if I was thinking, oh, I'm gonna bring it right back with me, but I just forgot it.

Nick: Okay. And I guess, is there such a thing as an apron that, like, is so precious that it has to be washed in a special way?

Leah: I haven't seen this apron.

Nick: I think at the end of the day, always ask. I mean, so many etiquette crimes happen in the ambiguity of it all. And if we just clarified, like, "Oh, would it be okay if I washed this?" Because I think we agree it would be courteous to wash something before you return it. I mean, that is a default setting for most things in the world. And so that goes for dishes you're returning, that goes for Tupperware, that goes for aprons. I mean, kind of goes for anything. And—oh, maybe not cars. I don't know if I would, like, actually wash and detail your car if I borrowed it for the day. But I certainly would make sure it wasn't dirty.

Leah: I mean, but you could run it through a car wash. That would be polite.

Nick: It would absolutely be polite. That's true. Yes. It would not be wrong to do so. It's not required. Whereas it is required to wash a casserole dish before you return it. Like, you are not returning a casserole dish that has, like, crust on it.

Leah: And this just has two extra layers that makes it so we can't decide.

Nick: Yeah, we can't decide. Some things can't be decided. So ...

Leah: Ha!

Nick: So our next question is, quote, "I've been living abroad, and returned home for a short visit. A neighbor who is an acquaintance was very excited to see me and insisted she come over to say hi. I accepted, but explained my best friend was coming over shortly for me to meet her new boyfriend, so it would need to be a quick visit. Not only did she not leave when my friend arrived, she stayed for hours, drank a lot of wine and monopolized the conversation. I was trying to visit with my friend and ask her new boyfriend questions only for the neighbor to take over the conversation and talk entirely about herself. She didn't leave until after midnight, leaving only a small amount of alone time with my friend. What is the polite way to get rid of a rude and uninvited guest?"

Leah: I mean ...

Nick: [laughs]

Leah: This is one where you wish you could turn back the wheels of time. And when she said, "Can I come over?" you say, "Oh, I can't. I'm sorry. I have friends coming over."

Nick: "No. No. Busy." Yeah.

Leah: But I mean, who would have guessed that she would just come in and stay until midnight?

Nick: Yeah. No, that feels a little extreme. Yeah. Way to read the room there, neighbor.

Leah: Whoo!

Nick: Yeah. There were definitely some opportunities that I think our letter-writer could have taken advantage of. So the first opportunity was when the friend and the new boyfriend did arrive. That was a great occasion to be like, "Okay, thank you so much for stopping by. The thing I mentioned when you wanted to come over is now happening, so our time together is now done, but thank you so much." Like, that was definitely an opportunity that I think we missed.

Leah: I think we probably missed it because we assumed that somebody would get that.

Nick: Yeah, some people don't get those hints.

Leah: It's almost to the point where you gotta be like—if you can't get them to leave, you have to be like, "Oh, we were gonna go to Applebee's. We have to leave." And then leave with your friend and be like, "You gotta get out of my house."

Nick: Yeah, a different location to try and get rid of them? I mean, that seems extreme, but I guess that would work. Although this person would be like, "Oh, great! I love Applebee's. Let's go."

Leah: Oh, it's just so uncomfortable. I feel like I'm getting a rash.

Nick: But I think the polite-yet-direct approach? This is a great occasion. Like, this is what this was designed for, which was like, "Oh, I'm so sorry. You need to go because now it's time for my friend and I to visit." Like, I think that's just what you say.

Leah: But I feel like it's hard if the friend comes in, we didn't do it, and then you're an hour in and then to be like, "You gotta go now." It seems almost impossible to say it at that point.

Nick: Oh, there's a window of opportunity for this. Absolutely. And that window definitely closed at hour four, for sure. [laughs] But there is a window. But I mean, a lot of etiquette problems don't get better the longer you let them fester, you know? It's usually easier—you gotta take care of it right up top. So within 10 minutes of this happening when they aren't getting the hint, that is when you would probably, like, signal like, oh, okay. Before we open another bottle of wine, I'd be like, "Okay, thank you so much for stopping by. This was great to catch up with you. See you next time I'm in town."

Leah: And I think this is one of those occasions where we're just so shocked that they're not leaving on their own that we weren't prepared to act.

Nick: Yeah. Oh, I can see how we got here. Absolutely. Yeah. And I can see how uncomfortable this was, and how awkward it is to say to somebody directly, like, "You need to get out of my house" in a polite way. But, like, that's essentially what you are saying. However, cost-benefit analysis, you either say that and it's a little awkward and uncomfortable, or you have this person in your house drinking your wine, monopolizing the conversation for five hours. And so those are your choices.

Leah: It's practically a sleepover. I mean, midnight!

Nick: Yeah. I mean, that's really extreme.

Leah: I also think you have a short period of time. In the future you can say to people, "Oh, I can't right now. I'm only here for a short period of time. I have a friend coming over." Like, it's like you can be protective of your time.

Nick: Yes. No is also an answer. I mean, who would have known this would have happened when we said there was a short visit? And we tried to protect ourselves by giving this neighbor a head's up. Like, "Oh, this will be a short visit because of this other thing." Like, we did try to actually set that boundary.

Leah: Yeah, we did try.

Nick: The problem is we just didn't really stick to that boundary and really enforce it. And when they blew through that boundary, we should have gone back to, like, re-emphasize that same boundary.

Leah: Oh, I'm sweating.

Nick: But now we know this about this neighbor.

Leah: Yeah, now we know this.

Nick: This is never gonna happen again with this neighbor.

Leah: Whoo!

Nick: But there will be other people in your life who are gonna do something similar, so I think you just need to be more prepared to just be like, "Oh, so nice seeing you, but our time is done."

Leah: [laughs] Our time is done.

Nick: Yeah, do it like a whole end of a therapy session. Be like, "That's our session," and that's it.

Leah: Close the notebook.

Nick: But actually body language, I think, would go a long way. I mean, if you had stood up and been like, "It was so great for you to stop by," and, like, start walking towards the door. I mean, body language, it's really hard to miss that signal.

Leah: I feel like this person could willfully miss a lot of signals.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, I guess that's when you actually just have to grab them by the scruff of their neck.

Leah: [laughs] Just drag them out backward.

Nick: Drag them out.

Leah: "You have to go!"

Nick: Yeah. "You don't have to go home, but can't stay here."

Leah: Oh! So stressful.

Nick: Very stressful. But I'm sorry this happened.

Leah: Me too. I can fully visualize it. You're sitting there, they're monopolizing the conversation they weren't even supposed to be a part of.

Nick: And then the poor friend and the boyfriend, because they're in this house being like, "Who is this woman?"

Leah: "Who is this woman?"

Nick: "What is happening?" So, sorry. So our next question is quote, "I was traveling with a big group of friends last week, and two friends started painting their nails on the airplane while we were seated, buckled in and waiting for takeoff. I was shocked and embarrassed. I would never dream of doing such a thing. And I was about to ask them what on earth they were doing when they were told the tray tables had to come up and they had to stop. Were they totally unaware of basic airplane etiquette or am I just super uptight?"

Leah: Yeah. I feel like you can't do nails in an enclosed space.

Nick: [laughs] Well, I had some questions. I had some questions to help us come to a correct answer on this. First, is an airplane a public space? Right? That's the first question. Are you in public?

Leah: Yes.

Nick: And I think yes, I think yes, this is still a public space. There's not a lot of people, but it is still strangers to you and it is considered a public space. So that's like a first question. And then the second question is: are we grooming ourselves? Is nail polish considered grooming?

Leah: Yes.

Nick: Yeah, I think it is, right? And I think in general, we don't want to be grooming unnecessarily in public. And then the third question is: is there such a thing as scent-free nail polish?

Leah: No!

Nick: Something that has zero scent?

Leah: And that's why—well, that's the biggest one for me, because like, maybe you want to throw on a little mascara when you land because you're, like, going to a work meeting or something.

Nick: Fine.

Leah: Mascara doesn't burn the nose hairs out of the person sitting next to you.

Nick: Yeah. And even if the person sitting next to you is part of your party, there are still people around beyond that who I think are still within the orb of scent.

Leah: It's a strong smell.

Nick: Yes. I mean, I feel like no is the answer. [laughs]

Leah: Yeah, definitely. You are not uptight. I think it's very standard, even if—and then on top of that, like, what if the plane—something happened and then it dumped? It spilled, like it spills?

Nick: Yeah. I mean, presumably this was before the door was closed and we had not started moving yet but, like, that doesn't matter.

Leah: We just don't do it.

Nick: Yeah, this is a no.

Leah: I wouldn't even do my nails in a car with all of my friends without being like, "Hey, I just need to fix this one nail." I can't imagine that I would do it anyway, but—and then be like, "Should we roll down all the windows?" Just so aware of how much it smells because it's like the kind of smell that gives people a headache.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, I don't want to be around that. Absolutely. So yeah, you are not being uptight. This is basic airplane etiquette that they are not following. Sorry. [laughs]

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So our next question is quote, "I have a pair of coworkers who are married, and they talk to each other at the office like they are at home. They use a tone that is argumentative and snippy. They would never talk to one of us this way, so it feels very uncomfortable and unprofessional. The wife and I are both in management positions, so I feel like I could say something to her, but I'm not sure how to approach it. Our office is small, so the conversation could be easily overheard by all unless taken elsewhere. What should I do?"

Leah: I feel like I just smelled nail polish.

Nick: [laughs]

Leah: This is actually one of my pet peeves when people are in a relationship and they work in the same place, and then they bring their—how they have their relationship in their house into the group because it's very uncomfortable for other people.

Nick: Yeah, it's definitely awkward. It's hard to pull off, for sure.

Leah: I mean, I work with my significant other, and a lot of people don't even know that we're together when we show up at places because I want to be—you know what I mean? Like, if I went into a doctor's office and two of the doctors were talking to each other the way that—I'd be like, "I feel uncomfortable."

Nick: "Interesting. You're able to put away your coffee cup here."

Leah: Yeah. [laughs]

Nick: [laughs] I guess my first question is: it's a small office, so the conversation with the other person that you want to have is uncomfortable because other people are gonna hear? Is that what's uncomfortable? Like, where do we actually physically have a conversation?

Leah: I think that is what they're saying.

Nick: Okay. I mean, I guess what is the conversation? Like, "Please don't bicker with your spouse at the office?"

Leah: I mean, the conversation, not saying it correctly, like the essence of what the conversation is is, "I don't know if you realize that you're in management. We're supposed to be setting examples, and you're making people uncomfortable by the way you go back and forth with your husband."

Nick: Okay. Yeah, I guess that's good. The idea that you're setting an example for the team, and so you want to set a good example.

Leah: Not that I think that's the way you should say it, but I think that's the—because they might not realize that they're doing it and making people uncomfortable.

Nick: I don't think they realize it, no. This is not something that they're aware is happening. Because I mean, they're living this experience, and so they don't understand how—like, oh, how they act at home is, like, any different than how they're acting in the office. Yeah.

Leah: And they probably don't even see it as snippy. It's probably just how they communicate.

Nick: Well, is this like Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Like, is that what's happening? Which would be amazing.

Leah: We'll just slowly escalate it.

Nick: [laughs] Yes, I would love it if it's that. If it's that actually, make no changes. I would love to attend the next staff meeting.

Leah: Just maybe film it.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: Because I feel like there's three ways to handle it. One, you could ignore it. Two, you could drop some random comment that was like sort of—which I don't like because I feel like our whole goal with this podcast has been to learn how to talk in, like, a polite-yet-direct way, so that sort of isn't that at all.

Nick: Yeah. No, the passive-aggressive side comment is not approved. Correct.

Leah: "Woo! I guess you guys are fighting at home!" You know what I mean? That's not the goal of this podcast.

Nick: Or, "Mommy and daddy are fighting." [laughs]

Leah: Yes. Or, you know, you just bring popcorn from the microwave and sit down and watch them and be like, "What are you guys fighting about today?" I think all of those things are not—the goal is to handle them. So then you either have: let it go or "Hey, can I take you to coffee? I have something I'd love to chat with you about."

Nick: I like that. "Let me take you to coffee. Let's chat about something." Yeah. And take it out of the office. And, "I don't think you're aware, but sometimes the tone you use with this person is not the right tone for the office." Yeah. And then I think we wouldn't say anything to the husband because there is that sort of seniority difference, right?

Leah: Yes.

Nick: So we wouldn't say anything to him, although I'm sure he's equally culpable for the tone that's being used here.

Leah: Oh, I'm sure he is.

Nick: The other thing I was sort of thinking was to approach it as a privacy thing, which was like, "You may not be aware, but the conversations that you have with him, we can all hear because it's a small office. So if you don't want all of us knowing about your, like, personal business, maybe don't talk about those things in the office."

Leah: I really like that because then you're not saying directly, "You're making everybody uncomfortable." You're drawing attention to the fact did they realize that we can hear their personal business?

Nick: Right. And so maybe you don't want all of us knowing your personal business. Assuming that the tone that's being used is about, like, non-work things. If it's just a snippy tone about work stuff, well then, go back to what you suggested originally.

Leah: Well, you could even say—if it was about work stuff, you could say, "I know you're talking about work stuff, but it feels like it's actually about other stuff because of the way you're speaking to each other."

Nick: Oh, okay. Yeah. And obviously it probably is.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: Uncomfortable.

Nick: Yeah. But this is why working with family is tricky. This is tricky.

Leah: And it just has to be like a different—you just have to have a different relationship with them at the workplace, unless it's like a family business and then feel free to yell at each other and do whatever it is you do.

Nick: Yeah. Then it's a great reality show.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: Sure, I'll watch that on TLC. No problem.

Leah: Oh, please let us know how this goes, what you decide to do. I'd be very interested to hearing how—because it's also who knows how they'll respond?

Nick: That's true. I mean, I would like to think that they will respond appreciatively, that they weren't aware this was happening or was an issue, they thank you for the care with which you approached it and the kind way you delicately brought up the topic. And then will make an effort to, like, change something.

Leah: That's how I hope they respond as well.

Nick: I can see a world in which they get very defensive and offended, and I don't know if we can do anything about that, but I don't think the hazard of that is a reason not to try.

Leah: And then I think if they are defensive about it, then you go to the option B, which is not the appropriate way to handle it, but if they push you to it, then you can do the "Mommy and daddy are fighting." [laughs]

Nick: Yeah. And then I think we just sort of behind their back just send animated gifs via text to the entire office except them, and we get a group chat going. And that's what we do. [laughs] Yeah. Either way is great, but let us know which path you take and how it worked out.

Leah: How quickly we derail.

Nick: [laughs]

Leah: We start out with such good intentions, but then if people don't reciprocate, well, we can go the other way.

Nick: Yeah, we can escalate. Absolutely. No problem. Bring it. So would you like to escalate? 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. And we'll see you next time!

Leah: Bye!

Nick: Bye!