Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this bonus episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about interrupting people who won't stop talking, proposing to bridesmaids, criticizing soups, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we had your address.)
Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this bonus episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about interrupting people who won't stop talking, proposing to bridesmaids, criticizing soups, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we had your address.)
QUESTIONS FROM THE WILDERNESS:
THINGS MENTIONED DURING THE SHOW
YOU ARE CORDIALLY INVITED TO...
Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton
Theme Music: Rob Paravonian
Nick: Hey, everybody. It's Nick Leighton.
Leah: And I'm Leah Bonnema.
Nick: And we got so many great questions from you all in the wilderness ...
Nick: ... that we have a bonus episode. So here we go. Our first question is, quote, "When is it okay to interrupt? For example, when talking with someone who doesn't seem to need air?" Yeah, I think we all know these people.
Leah: Oh, for sure.
Nick: Right? You just can't get a word in edgewise.
Nick: Can't be done. So what do we do about it?
Leah: I mean, I feel like there's two routes.
Leah: Like, if they're talking about something and you have something to say and they're not a person who gives you air, I would just jump in. "Oh, I ..." and then boom, boom, boom, boom.
Leah: And then sometimes I'll be like, "Oh, sorry!" You know, recognizing that I jumped in.
Leah: And then sometimes people are never gonna give you a word in edgewise, and it's sort of like not worth it, you know? [laughs]
Nick: Yeah. Yeah, I think I pretty much had the same approach here. Yeah, I think you first have to decide, is it even worth jumping in, you know? Do you want to bother? Because someone who does this, they're not listeners. And so even if you do get a word in edgewise, they're not gonna actually hear you.
Nick: So should we bother? So I think that's a good thing to think about. Also related to that is you could just let people tire themselves out, because at some point they will stop talking—usually, hopefully. And so you could just see if you could just tire them out, and then you could jump in.
Leah: Very much like letting a kid run around outside. Just get out there, run around. When you come back, we'll do my stuff.
Nick: Yeah. Or it's like, you know, we're taking the dog to the dog park. Run it out, get it out of your system, tire you out, then we'll come home, we'll nap. So there's a conversational equivalent of that. Another idea is that, often when we're talking to people, we actually give them facial cues, letting them know that we are wanting them to keep going. And we may not realize that we're doing that. We have, like, sort of like encouraging facial expressions. Like, "Tell me more. That's very interesting. Please continue." And so one solution is to not give that. So to be very neutral, very non-expressive. Like, don't give them any energy with your facial expressions.
Leah: Withhold your ...
Leah: Yeah, withhold your support. [laughs]
Nick: Yeah. But that's very effective, I think. Another effective thing is just hand gestures. You know, things that are like, "Oh, I want to jump in there."
Nick: Like, "Oh, I have something to add." Or like, "Oh, let me interrupt." Sort of non-verbal hand gestures, I think this could also be something we can try.
Leah: I think those are all great options.
Nick: But yeah, I think usually my strategy is I don't need to jump in here.
Leah: Yeah, I think that's usually where I am, too.
Nick: Yeah. And I think part of it is that, like, I talk so much in general that, like, I'm happy to have a break. No problem. Delighted to take a little time off.
Leah: I also think that you're absolutely right that this sort of group of people aren't going to really listen. They're the kind of people who listen to respond, not listen to hear.
Leah: So am I gonna waste my energy? I'll just listen to your story.
Nick: And I think if you're a person that does this, and you may not realize that you are the person that does this but, like, maybe you are, I think remember that conversations are a lot more interesting when you listen, because then it's more of a back and forth.
Nick: Which is much more interesting than a monologue.
Leah: And I do think sometimes we're all in a place where we're telling something, and where that person who's talking too much. And that happens in friendships, but that's not what this is.
Nick: Yeah, that is not what this is. So I think, yeah, we just want to be mindful that conversation is more fun when two people are involved.
Nick: So our next question is, quote, "I live on a busy street where stolen packages are a common occurrence. About three weeks ago, I got home from dinner late on a Friday night and noticed my new neighbors—whom I have not met yet—had a couple of packages on their doorstep. Just in case they were home, I knocked on their door to let them know they had boxes outside. When no one answered, I figured they weren't home, so I picked up the boxes and brought them into my house for safekeeping. The following morning, I knocked again and I left a note to introduce myself and let them know I took the boxes, and would be home all weekend so they could pick them up whenever they wanted. The next day, I discovered that I had received a note of my own. My neighbor introduced himself, and let me know if I needed anything I could always ask. He even included a chocolate bunny. So as I ate the bunny, I wondered why he didn't ring the bell so I could come down with the boxes. After going back to his house and finding him not at home again, I wrote another note with my phone number. I figured that way he could call me or text me whenever he was ready to pick up his boxes. It has now been three weeks, and I still have custody of the packages. I'm not sure what to do. I could keep knocking, but I feel like the ball's in his court. I don't want to leave them on his doorstep again because if they got stolen, that would defeat the entire purpose of what I set out to do. What would you do?"
Leah: Do you remember that time that you said, "What kind of a person am I today" about a question?
Nick: Oh! Yeah, I often think this.
Leah: [laughs] And so both times when I read this, my immediate response was—and I think it's just because of where I am, I thought—this is obviously not what it is, but I just wrote, I think you're keeping something illegal for them. [laughs]
Nick: [laughs] Oh, my mind didn't go there. Interesting!
Leah: They're like, "Let's let her keep the packages."
Leah: Or he.
Leah: Let whomever keep the packages until I have to transport it to the next person. That way I'm not responsible.
Nick: Plausible deniability. Love it.
Leah: Maybe I've been watching too many mob movies.
Nick: [laughs] Yeah. Okay, well, I think this is a possibility, but does that actually change what we should do? I think actually the answer is probably the same, regardless if this is an illegal substance or not.
Leah: Yeah, the answer's the same.
Nick: Yeah. So if you're trafficking or not, I think you do have to deal with this because you have taken ownership of this. So it is now your responsibility to make sure it gets reunited with the rightful owner. And so I'm sorry that you did a good deed. No good deed goes unpunished, but that is what has happened. So I think the solution here is we got to get these people's phone number. Like, that will be much easier. Like, I love a good handwritten note, but that is not efficient here. We got to make phone or text contact with these people.
Leah: Yeah, I agree this person is now responsible. You can't just leave them outside again.
Leah: I guess I would try to put them somewhere so they're not in the middle of my life.
Nick: Yes. Don't have them on your dining room table for three weeks.
Leah: And then I would make a note for myself and I'd be like, "Okay, next week I'm gonna try this again." That way it doesn't consume my life. And then I'd go down, I'd knock, and then I'd say, "Hey, can you—if you come by to look for the packages, can you leave me your number if I'm not there so I can just call and check to see if you're home?"
Nick: Yeah. I think we could leave them a note with the time on it. Like, "Hey, just want to see if there's a good time this week for me to come by.
Nick: And I think we could do something like that. Like, "Let me know when I can come by in the next few days."
Nick: "To get this out of my house." I guess that would be one solution. And I like that there was a bunny, a chocolate bunny exchanged. So that's interesting.
Leah: I know! That's so cute!
Nick: That's an interesting detail.
Leah: I immediately was like, "Was it a dark chocolate? Was it a milk chocolate?" I assume it wasn't a white chocolate.
Nick: I'm assuming it's milk chocolate. Also, I think anybody who gives a chocolate bunny, they're not trafficking illicit substances.
Leah: I mean, I don't know what was in the bunny, Nick.
Nick: Oh, gosh! Everything has something inside of it!
Nick: Oh, wow. You are watching too much narcotic-based thrillers. Okay. So yeah, I think we just want to send another note, try and get their phone number. "Please call me. Let me know when is a good time to coordinate getting these packages to you this week. Also, thanks for the bunny." And I think we do that, and I think we have to repeat that weekly until we get this out of our house.
Leah: I think that's perfect. Although I just want to say back on the bunny, I had such a specific visual on the bunny, and I definitely got very excited. I was like, this is a fun neighbor, regardless of what kind of things they're trafficking.
Nick: The bunny I was picturing was, you know that person at the office that has a bunny from Easter from eight months ago, and keeps nibbling at it and it starts turning, like, white?
Leah: Yes, yes!
Nick: Because the chocolate sort of blooms? And you just keep nibbling on the ear, and they try and preserve the face and they keep eating, like, the rest of the bunny. That's what I'm picturing.
Leah: Did you picture it in a box?
Nick: I'm picturing it in a cardboard box with this cellophane clear, like, panel in the front so I could see into it. That's what I'm picturing for this bunny.
Leah: I visualize the gold foil bunny.
Nick: Oh, you got expensive.
Leah: Yeah, that's what I saw.
Nick: Okay. We went luxury.
Leah: Yeah. Luxury bunny.
Nick: Regardless, I'm sorry that you have packages in your house, but we're gonna get them out of there for you.
Nick: Our next question is, quote, "My best friend is getting married, and has been engaged for almost three months. In our recent conversations, she's referred to myself, to other women and the groom's best friend as, quote, 'the bridal party.' She has even named myself and our other best friend as maid of honors. Growing up, we had fantasized about being each other's maid of honor, and are even collaborators on each other's wedding Pinterest boards. So this is all very exciting. But while this should be a time of celebrating and living out our childhood fantasies, I cannot help but feel disappointed that she has not officially asked me to be her maid of honor. And she's not asked anyone to be in the bridal party. Yet, she has already given the girls her wish list for the bridal shower and bachelorette party. I feel like an etiquette crime has been committed. Should there have been an official bridal party proposal, are bridal party proposals still a thing? Should I be upset, even though she has said I'm her co-maid of honor? What are your thoughts?" Oh, if you could see Leah's face right now. [laughs]
Leah: I want to say up top a little something I got from therapy.
Leah: Or I took away from therapy. Who knows what was actually said to me? [laughs]
Nick: Okay, fair distinction.
Leah: Yes. When we're upset—and I feel like a lot of people do this to themselves—they say, "Should I be upset? Am I allowed to be upset?"
Leah: Let yourself feel upset. You feel upset.
Nick: Right. Okay.
Leah: So then don't spend that time not allowing yourself to feel what you feel. You feel what you feel.
Leah: And then you think, "Do I want to feel this way? Is this a thing that—?" And then if I don't want to feel this way, what's the easiest thing to do about it? And I think the easiest thing to do about it is to just talk to that person.
Leah: And be like, "Am I officially your co-maid of honor? You know, we always talked about this, and I'd be delighted to be. It just wasn't clarified, and I just want to do the right thing."
Nick: I mean, I think that's very nice. Always just having a nice, direct, polite conversation with somebody to clarify.
Nick: Because as we've discussed in the past, a lot of etiquette crimes happen when there's ambiguity. And so sometimes we just want to clear that ambiguity up and just clarify.
Leah: Let's just clear the air.
Nick: But before we even get there, I looked into the bridal party proposal, because this was not something I was super familiar with. And wow, the wedding-industrial complex, they are so clever. They are so clever. I mean, it's so—it's evil. It's almost evil how clever it is.
Nick: They have invented yet another way to extract cash from people. And so now there is this thing, which is like, not only do you propose to your new spouse, but you also need to propose to your bridal party, which of course involves gifts. And so, yeah, this is a thing. I even found, there was some, like, piñata proposal party popper thing on Etsy. For $16 each you can buy these things. They look cute, I will say. But, you know, this is not necessary. But yeah, there is this idea that you should formally propose to your bridal party to ask them to be part of it. And I think there is some truth to that. I think you should ask people if they would like to be part of your bridal party. You should not assume, because especially these days, there's a lot of responsibility and cost associated with being in somebody's wedding party.
Nick: And so not everybody wants that responsibility, or has the cash to do it. So I think it is nice to ask. Like, "Hey, we always talked about it but, like, would you like to be my maid of honor?" I think we should ask.
Leah: Yes. And I always—which whether it's a good habit or not—like to imagine what the other person went through to end up—not went through—what they're thinking.
Nick: Empathy. How novel?
Leah: And I ... [laughs] and I could be totally wrong, but my guess is that this bride to be thought that she wanted to make it as casual as possible for everybody so they didn't have—not that this makes it okay—you should be asked. But so she's like, "I want to make it casual for everybody. And of course, we'd always discuss this growing up. So this is just what we'd already decided as kids was going to be." So my guess is that in this person's mind she was, like, making it easy. And that's why I think that if you talk to her, you'll feel better about it because you'll both realize there was a miscommunication, and you're gonna arrive at the same—that you both want the same thing.
Nick: I mean, I even just think that we are so close that I don't have to ask. Like, of course. Of course you're my maid of honor.
Nick: Like, it's just inevitable. Like, there was never gonna be anything but that. And so, like, I wasn't gonna propose to you. That actually would be weird because it would assume, like, oh, maybe you don't want to be my maid of honor? And it's like, no, we're ride or die. Of course you are. So I think that's where our bride to be is coming from, is that it's just like we, of course, have this relationship.
Leah: We talked about it as kids.
Nick: Yeah, like this is what it is. So I think this is a compliment. I think you should take this as a compliment, because that's the spirit in which this has been done. And I think, you know, yes, you could be upset if you'd like, but I don't think you need to be.
Leah: Well, I think you'll feel less upset if you just have the conversation, because I think that she's gonna say what Nick said.
Nick: Yeah. Or she can listen to this episode and then you can say what I said.
Nick: Either way, however you want to do it. So our next question is, quote, "I am a teacher, and one of my students and her family have invited me and a few other teachers to their home for dinner. Their home is incredible, and they throw insane dinner parties. I have two questions: the first, what do I bring the host—someone who has everything? And two, what if they serve a dish I don't eat? How do I handle it appropriately?"
Leah: I feel a lot of people get very anxious about bringing a host gift to people that have extraordinary things.
Nick: Oh, sure.
Leah: That's not what a host gift needs to be. It's just something personal. Like, I think we've discussed before: baked goods.
Leah: Something homemade.
Leah: Just like an item that says thank you and that is thoughtful.
Nick: Yes. Key is thoughtful. Ideally, this is thoughtful. Ideally, you know this family, I guess, because if you've been a teacher for one of their kids, I think you probably know something about them. And I think if you're being invited to their home, you probably have some relationship. So you know what's up. So something that you think they'll like. It doesn't matter what it is, as long as you put some thought into it. If you don't want to put any thought into it, then the classics are: candle, wine, box of chocolate, soap. And, you know, that's also fun.
Leah: [laughs] The classics.
Nick: The classics, yes. They're universal, they're regiftable, no one will take offense at a bottle of Aesop hand soap. So, you know, it's fine.
Leah: I agree,
Nick: And then what do you do about being served something you don't eat?
Leah: You know, immediately you're like, is this a plated dinner? Is it—we're assuming it's a plated dinner?
Nick: Oh, yes. Yes. No, there's staff, they're serving you.
Leah: And they're dropping the plate. It's not like serve yourself from different things on the table.
Nick: I am assuming that this is a plated meal, yes. Where you have the host on one end, the other host on the other end, it's a 90-foot table. And, you know, to pass the salt, you actually have to stand up and walk.
Nick: I think it's that.
Leah: That's very the original Batman.
Nick: Yes, that is the scene I was picturing. Exactly. So I think that's the dinner party we're picturing. So you will be given a plate of food. What if you don't eat this thing?
Leah: And you don't think you eat any of the things on it?
Nick: I mean, I don't know. I don't know what you eat.
Leah: I think I would just not say anything and maybe enjoy the dinner.
Nick: Yeah. I mean, I think you have to move it around your plate to make it look like it's been touched. And I think we just, like, don't eat it if it's something you could eat but you just don't. If it's a health thing then, like, that's fine. But if it's just something you would rather not eat, then yeah, just sort of move it around your plate, pretend you ate it, maybe take a bite, you might like it. And then a good host will probably notice but won't say anything. And that's the fiction that we all need.
Leah: I was gonna say we should all agree not to just bring it up.
Nick: Yeah, you don't bring it up. It's very rude to comment on someone else's plate. Don't comment on what they're eating or not eating. So you should make an effort to make it look like you ate it. They're gonna make an effort to pretend they didn't notice, and harmony will reign.
Leah: Yeah, just cut it up a little bit, move it around, boom.
Nick: Yeah, that's all. So I actually followed up with these people and asked, "How did it go?" And so they said, quote, "It was delicious and beautiful. I brought the host a candle." Good choice, very classic. "And I brought their daughter—my old student—some candy and a bath bomb. I ate uni bisque out of the sea urchin shell and it was still moving. So proud of myself."
Leah: Oh, that's so great!
Nick: Uni is a super aggressive choice for a dinner party. That is very bold. That is a very bold choice. For anybody who doesn't know, uni is part of a sea urchin and very popular in Japan and Korea. Definitely a delicacy. Very unusual to be served at home at a dinner party. And it's not for everybody. It's very briny and, like, that's a pretty aggressive menu item. So I mean, props to the hosts, but you're rolling the dice. Not everybody wants that.
Leah: [laughs] You're rolling the dice. And also props to our letter writer. She just got in there and tried it.
Nick: Yeah, you know, you never know if you're gonna like uni or not, and I guess she does. So I'm glad that was successful.
Leah: I also like that she gave the host gift and then a gift to her old student.
Nick: Very nice to sort of bifurcate that, yeah. And what was not mentioned, but I'm gonna assume was done is afterwards we send a handwritten note in the mail thanking them for a lovely evening.
Leah: And introducing you to uni.
Nick: That would be a very nice detail to include in the letter, yes. Like, I'd never had uni before. It was so delightful to try it in your home. I hope to be back soon.
Leah: What an experience!
Nick: What an experience! So our next question is, quote, "If someone contacts me from my website using the contact form, and they ask a question that is succinctly answered on that same very well-organized website, do I have to be polite to them? Would it be rude to say, 'I see you have contacted me from my website as posted there,' and then provide a link to where they can find the answer to their question? How far do I have to go to be polite to someone who is wasting my time? I would like to just stick their mail in my completed correspondence folder and never write back, but I feel like every message deserves a response. Is that where I'm going wrong? Can I just trash these messages if I find them to be time wasters?"
Leah: I've often had information right in front of my face, and I thought I looked through the whole thing and I didn't see it.
Nick: Hmm. Okay, yes.
Leah: So I think that we could try to imagine that this person did that, that they read through it, and they just missed it.
Nick: Yes. I think having an attitude of benefit of the doubt, these are not just sloppy, careless people going out of their way to waste my time.
Leah: Yeah, they're just sort of like when you're looking for the peanut butter and it was right in front of your face, and for some reason you looked through the entire cupboard and it was where you originally looked. It's one of those moments.
Leah: And I think you could just say, "Thanks so much for contacting me. Here's the link to all that information. Hope this solves—answers your question." And just send it.
Nick: I think—especially in business—you know, we actually let a lot of etiquette crime slide because, like, we want your money.
Nick: And we're gonna let you be a rude customer because we still want your money. And so I think we do need to have a little of that flavor in our approach, which is like, I'm still gonna provide excellent customer service to you. I'm gonna be very polite in my response, even if I don't think you deserve it, because I still want a business relationship with you. So yes, it is tempting to be like, "See below," or like, "Here's the link you should have read before you bothered." But yeah, I think if we just like, "Here's the answer to your question. Here's more FAQs on my website. Let me know if there's anything else I can do for you."
Leah: I think that's perfect.
Nick: And I think we just kind of leave it there. Do you have to write back? Does every email deserve a response? No. This one does, but in general?
Leah: Yeah, I think this one you can respond to, but if somebody writes something ridiculous, you don't need to respond to it.
Nick: Yeah. I don't think we have an obligation to respond to every email that comes to us, and I think we can choose whether or not we want to respond if something deserves a response. So there's no blanket rule that you have to respond to every correspondence that comes in. But for this, I think you should.
Leah: And I think for this, because for emails where I feel like sometimes I'm like, "Ugh, I don't want to have to write this again. Why do you people keep doing this?" You know, we all get emails like this.
Leah: I have a templates Word doc on my computer where if it's something like this, I've already written it and then I just swap out the link.
Leah: And then I post it into the thing, and that way I don't have to think about why did this person not—I just, "Oh, this is this." And then I'm gonna respond with this.
Nick: Yeah, easy-peasy. Yeah, I love a good template, sure. So yeah, although I do—I don't want to minimize our letter writer's pain, because I get this. Like, it is annoying when it's sort of like, could you not have just taken two seconds just to see if the question was answered before you took the time to write me? Because also, it does take time to write an email, and it actually would be faster just to, like, see has the thing I want to email you about been answered? So for this person that's writing, you're wasting your own time, too. A little bit. So a lot of time being wasted.
Leah: Oh, no. I absolutely agree, it is annoying when you're like—also, I mean, it's the same people that you answer something in an email and they write you back as if it hadn't been answered. You know, and you're like, "Are you reading the information that I've already worked on giving you?" I totally get that. I just think it alleviates the letter writer's irritation if you're just like, "You know what? I'll just send this back," and boom.
Nick: Yeah. Although I think it is important to remember that attention to detail isn't everyone's thing. It's my thing. It's your thing. It's not everybody's thing. And I think it's okay. We all have different things, and so maybe attention to detail is just not this person's thing who was writing in. And we just have to acknowledge that.
Leah: Yeah, and I've definitely asked for something that was right in front of my face. And it wasn't that I didn't look, it was just that it wasn't my smartest day.
Leah: So that's why I always like to imagine that that person was just not having their best day and respond accordingly.
Nick: Yeah. Yeah, this is not the hill you want to die on.
Leah: And also, maybe that person ends up giving you a million dollars.
Nick: I mean, stranger things have happened, yes. For sure.
Leah: So it'd be like, "Oh, I'm glad I replied."
Nick: Yeah. Yeah, that's true. I mean, I'm pretty sure that this is not a million dollar email, but you never know. So our next thing is a vent. Quote, "There are probably many, many vents about working in the food industry, but I'd like to get this one out there. When we tell you what the specials are, please refrain from saying 'Ew, yuck!" Or anything similar. It's disrespectful, particularly if it's a small local cafe with only a handful of employees. The odds are quite good that you're speaking to one of the people who sources the recipes, creates the menu and even prepares that vegan roasted cauliflower curry soup that you think sounds icky. P.S. The soup is actually incredible."
Leah: I wrote underneath this, "Who are these people!" Exclamation point.
Nick: Who are these people who say "Ew" and "Yuck" to a server when they're reading the specials?
Leah: Yeah. I'm just like, "What are you—really? The person is working there!"
Nick: Yeah. I mean, I think it comes down to, as a society, we feel the privilege to comment on everything in real time. You know, because, like, Facebook, Instagram, it's all sort of primed us to always comment on every piece of content that comes in. So this is the real-life equivalent of, like, a thumbs down emoji.
Leah: Yeah, on YouTube.
Nick: As someone is speaking to you. That's what this is. And people don't have self control, and they don't realize, like, oh, I'm in public. It's the same people that, like, do commentary during a live theater performance. It's like, this is not TV in your home. This is live. And they're actually there. I think it's the same flavor.
Leah: I used to say when people would comment, like, on stand-up things, I'd be like, "I'm not a YouTube page. Like, you can't just ...
Nick: [laughs] Yeah.
Leah: "This is real. I'm a real person. You are real." You know?
Leah: Don't behave that way.
Nick: So yeah, don't heckle your waiter when they're giving you the specials.
Leah: It's so rude!
Nick: It's rude.
Leah: I feel like I'd be like, "Oh, I made it."
Nick: Yeah. I mean, I think you could say if somebody does say "Ew" or "Yuck," be like, "Oh, I actually really like it. I developed this recipe. It's one of my family's recipes." I think you could say that.
Leah: I think you absolutely could.
Nick: And you might make this person think twice before doing something similar in the future. I think etiquette-wise, we approve of that.
Leah: Yeah, I love that.
Nick: And I love anything curry. So letter writer, I would actually be very interested in a recipe for the soup, because I'll make this. This sounds great.
Leah: Yeah, I got very hungry when I read that.
Nick: So do you have any recipes for us? Or questions, or vents or repents? Send them to us. You can send them to us through our website, Wereyouraisedbywolves.com, or you can leave us a voicemail or send us a text message, (267) CALL-RBW. And we'll see you next time.