Sept. 14, 2020

Ranking Wedding Guests, Refusing Requests for Money, Prodding Slow Charities, and More

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this bonus episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about ranking wedding guests, refusing requests for money, prodding slow charities, and much more. Please subscribe! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we had your address.)


  • Is it rude to put your wedding guests in priority groups and tell them which group they're in?
  • Is it OK to ghost if someone you don't know very well asks you for money?
  • How do you deal with someone who leaves inappropriate comments on your Instagram posts?
  • What do you do if a charity isn't giving you the information you need to write thank you notes?
  • How could things have been handled better during an episode at the theatre when texting was involved?
  • What's a polite way to tell someone they tell boring stories?




Hosts: Nick Leighton & Leah Bonnema

Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton

Theme Music: Rob Paravonian


[Musical Interlude]

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

Leah: And I am Leah Bonnema.

Nick: We got so many great questions from you guys in the wilderness-

Leah: [Howling]

Nick: -that we have a bonus episode, so here we go. Our first question ... Wow.

Leah: Un-uhhhh ...

Nick: There is this wedding invitation that has been sort of floating around social media. Somebody sent it to us, and we'd like to share it with you. We have some thoughts. It's a card that was in the invitation, and it was some additional instructions to the guests. It reads, "Dear friends and family, please understand that our venue is limited in the number of guests we will be able to accommodate for our wedding day. As much as we would love to have each and every one of you join us for our big day, we are forced to split our guests into groups to ensure we do not surpass our capacity restrictions. Group A, please RSVP as soon as possible. We appreciate your promptness, as we will be able to extend any vacant seats to additional guests. Group B and C, please keep a close watch on our wedding website for notice that we will have space available. If you already know that you're unable to join us, it is helpful that you decline via the RSVP function on our website. You are in Group A."

Leah: Woooo!

Nick: So ... We have Group A, Group B, and Group C. Yeah.

Leah: Can you imagine getting that email and being in Group C?

Nick: [Giggling]

Leah: [Laughing] That was one my favorite Nick laughs, right there ... [Laughing]

Nick: It is not unusual to have lists of guests in different tiers. There's definitely the people that you definitely want to invite. There is the list of people that you'll invite if there's room. What isunusual is telling your guests what group they're in.

Leah: Yeah, that is ...

Nick: That is a problem.

Leah: UN-believable.

Nick: That is unbelievable. Yeah. Yeah.

Leah: I would just get that and be like, "Oh, my answer's no. I am not coming."

Nick: [Giggling] Just to clarify why it's an etiquette crime: this is rude because you're telling people in Groups B and C that they're garbage.

Leah: [Giggling]

Nick: Telling people that they're garbage is rude.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: That's rude. Yeah.

Leah: WOW!

Nick: Yeah. So, how would you respond to this? How would you respond? If you were in Group C-

Leah: I would say, "Oh, I can't come, so don't worry about trying to squeeze me in!"

Nick: [Laughing] Right? What's also particularly rude about this is that if you're in Group B or C, you're asked to just keep an eye on their website; keep refreshing it like it's a restaurant reservation at a hot restaurant.

Leah: Yeah, that's what I was like: "Am I trying to get into a club?" What's happening?

Nick: Right. Yeah, they're not going to let you know that there's space. You've just got to keep hitting refresh on your browser.

Leah: Yeah, you've gotta do the work! No thank you!

Nick: So, that's also rude. Yeah. I mean, I guess you could respond like, "I have a lot of invitations for that weekend. You are Wedding B. I'll let you know if I can make it." [Giggling]

Leah: I almost want to write back, "Wow! No thanks!"

Nick: Well, no, you can't say that, that's rude. That's a rude response.

Leah: I said *"almost want to."* I wouldn't.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: I would just say, "Oh, congratulations ... You guys are perfect for each other!"

Nick: That's for sure. Yes. I would just send my regrets and remember, you don't have to send a gift, so I wouldn't.

Leah: Oh, definitely not. It's just so mean.

Nick: It is mean-spirited. I get that we have capacity issues; totally get that. It just ... This is not the way you handle it.

Leah: You just tell the first group of people, "Hey, can you let us know if you can't make it, because it's a small ..." Everybody understands that.

Nick: Yeah, you stagger your mailings.

Leah: Yeah!

Nick: It's how we've been doing it for hundreds of years. Yes. Get the first batch out, see who responds, then you go to the next list.

Leah: Yeah!

Nick: Yes.

Leah: So hurtful! I'm hurt for- my feelings are hurt, and I'm not even a part of it.

Nick: Yeah, I definitely wouldn't attend. Our next question is ...

Leah: Can I just say, before you read it, that this question gave me acid reflux?

Nick: [Giggling] Yeah. Yeah. No, it definitely feels like there are some issues here. "My friends, Chad and Lisa, have only met a handful of times when we were all hanging out together. So, it surprised me and Lisa when, out of nowhere, Chad asked Lisa to lend him a large sum of money. The messages started with general greetings, but as soon as the conversation took a turn towards money, Lisa completely ignored the messages; that is to say, ghosted. Initially, I thought it was rude for Lisa to ghost, but Lisa was appalled that Chad, who didn't even know Lisa, would have the audacity to ask for money. Thus, Chad was the one who was being rude. It does make sense, after Lisa explained how ridiculous the situation was, from Lisa's point of view. Honestly, I wouldn't even know what to say if I were Lisa, but I still think ghosting is the worst. How should Lisa have responded to this awkward situation? Is ghosting an exception in this case?"

Leah: I'll tell you why I got acid reflux on this.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: I love our letter-writers. I think they're conscientious people. I appreciate them listening. This letter-writer, I feel like I wanted her to have Lisa's back-

Nick: Hmm.

Leah: -because Lisa is being put in a very inappropriate situation and is just trying to set up boundaries.

Nick: Yes, that's true. I did ask for some additional information from our letter-writer because when I got this, I was like, "What is happening here?" So, here's some additional detail that will color the rest of our conversation. I asked, "What is the money for?" It's for car payments, and the request sounds like it was for more than $1,000 and the letter-writer thinks that Chad asked Lisa for money since Lisa isn't in Chad's inner circle, and it would be less embarrassing. Chad knows that Lisa works in a "higher earning field," so Chad thinks Lisa's got the cash. None of that makes this better.

Leah: No, and I do feel like women, through history, have been asked to justify why something is awkward and inappropriate-

Nick: Hmm.

Leah: -and I don't think that women should have to do that anymore. Chad knows that he shouldn't be asking essentially strangers for money.

Nick: Yes, I think we can all agree Chad's behavior was not correct. That's right.

Leah: I don't like ghosting. I think people should respond. But in this situation, I feel it's really inappropriate to just ask somebody you don't know, through a friend, for money.

Nick: Yeah, no, totally.

Leah: She shouldn't have to write back, and be like, "Oh, no, I'm sorry." That seems-

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: I don't think that Lisa should have do that. Maybe I'm wrong. I would probably write back because I am ruh-diculous, but reading this, I don't think that Lisa should have to write back, and I think that's fine.

Nick: In our previous deep dive, some episodes ago, when we talked about ghosting, one of the reasons when you're allowed to ghost is if a boundary has been crossed. So, that is an occasion where you are allowed to just not respond. I guess a question would be: has a boundary been breached here? Yeah, I think we can safely say that this was a boundary that you shouldn't cross. I do think, though, you could say something, which would be along the lines of, "I'm not in a position to lend money right now, sorry," and you could say that, if you felt like that was going to make things less awkward for the next time you see this person, who is, hypothetically, tangentially related to your social circle. There's a good chance you will run into Chad again, so responding with just, say, "I can't, sorry," would make that next encounter in person maybe less awkward. So, you could say that if you wanted.

Leah: You could ... My guess is that Lisa has, because this has happened to me, where people have asked me to borrow money, and I've said I'm not in a position to lend money right now-

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: -and then, that was not enough!

Nick: Oh, there's a follow up to that?!

Leah: They came back with, "Oh, any amount will be ..."

Nick: Ugh!

Leah: It's just inappropriate!

Nick: I see. Okay. Yeah, I mean, if they don't take no for an answer, then yeah, okay-

Leah: Which happens! If somebody is willing to ask almost a stranger for money-

Nick: Hmm.

Leah: -I understand why ... This feels to me like it's a boundary, and a person is allowed to bow out.

Nick: Yeah. I think ghosting is probably okay here. That's true.

Leah: We've discussed before how it's never ... Thinking that somebody is in a higher earning field, doesn't mean that they should-

Nick: That's irrelevant.

Leah: It's irrelevant.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, borrowing money, in general, is always awkward, even with close friends, or family, but from stranger? C'mon!

Leah: Yeah ... I'm going to reach out to my friends' friends because it's less awkward because I won't see them as much?

Nick: [Giggling] I mean, Chad's clever on some level.

Leah: Clever is one word. Manipulative is another word.

Nick: Okay, yeah. You say tomayto ...

Leah: Also, Chad could be in a really bad way, and I could be not being compassionate enough, but I don't get the idea from this message that that's what that is.

Nick: I don't get the sense that this was Chad's last option, right?

Leah: Yeah, I don't either. I would feel differently about it if Chad was in ... You know, these are hard times. People are in hard places. I think that people in those circumstances have to reach out, but I didn't get that from this.

Nick: Right, and interesting that Chad didn't ask the letter-writer for money.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: So, that's noted.

Leah: Which would be your friend. That would seem to be the person that you could actually reach out to.

Nick: Right, yeah. So, our next question is also about inappropriate things. Oh, we're on a roll this week!

Leah: This one, also, I took some more Pepto!

Nick: [Giggling] "How do you recommend dealing with someone who you know professionally, who leaves inappropriate comments on your Instagram posts? For example, I'm connected with someone in my industry who's at a more senior level than I am. He leaves comments insinuating that I'm drinking all the time, even if the post has nothing to do with alcohol. How do you recommend tackling this? Sometimes I laugh and comment back. Sometimes, I delete his comment, and sometimes, I delete the whole post altogether because I'd just rather not deal with it. He's an important connection, professionally, so I need to handle this delicately.

Leah: I would just like to say up top that I feel sad for us all who are stuck in this position, where we have to put up with these behaviors because somebody is in a position of authority or power.

Nick: Yeah, the power dynamic thing does not thrill me about this question.

Leah: It does not thrill me at all. It happens all the time. I feel, I think, sad and angry about it!

Nick: Because if we didn't have that power dynamic thing, our response would be very different.

Leah: Yeah, and this poor person is taking down entire posts.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: You know what I mean? I just ... I've had this problem, too, and I struggle with it. I want to be a person who's just like, "Well, I don't care what their position is," but oftentimes you have to be like, "Am I going to say something to this person and then ruin this entire possible bridge?"

Nick: Right. So, my first thought, when I got this, was that if you don't feel like your reputation is being damaged by this, then I think I would just ignore it and not engage it, but just leave it.

Leah: Don't like it. Don't respond to it ...

Nick: Yeah. Just pretend it's not happening and just ignore it. Leave it. Don't touch it. It's asbestos in the wall. It's just safer to leave it. That was my first thought. I find that very unsatisfying, though, because that tacitly says to the person that what they're doing is okay, and it's not. I don't think there's an option where we can say something to this person without rocking the boat, and that's what our letter-writer is afraid of.

Leah: Right.

Nick: Because, I mean, otherwise, if this wasn't a power thing, and you wanted to say something, then you would have a direct, yet polite conversation with the person, which is like, "I know you think it's funny, but I'm concerned what other people who don't know me as well might think, so maybe lay off the drinking comments." You could have that sort of polite conversation, if this wasn't somebody more senior than you.

Leah: Also, sometimes, I wonder, maybe we should just rock the boat.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: Because what is worth it ..." Are you going to work with this person down the line, and they're going to continue to do this - just kind of push a little bit too hard, be a little bit too inappropriate?

Nick: Yeah. The more I think about it, I think there probably is a way to say something to this person privately, in a direct but polite way that's nonjudgmental, that asks them to stop. I think there probably is a way to do that.

Leah: I have somebody who always makes jokes about drinking stuff ... I don't even drink, so I don't understand why they always do it. One time, I just wrote something, like, "Ahahahaha ... It's so funny that you always comment about drinking when these have nothing to do with drinking. You're crazy!" But then, I did a smiley face.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: Because I just don't get it. I'm like, "Why are you always bringing this up when it is not in any way relative to my life?"

Nick: Okay. So, you can gauge it that way. Although, would that stop it? I don't know.

Leah: I don't know, but I just ... . You could at least get it out that you're noticing; that you think it's weird.

Nick: Okay. Although, I don't know if that's going to achieve our goals.

Leah: No, I think you're right. It probably doesn't achieve our goals at all.

Nick: The other idea I had is, on Instagram, at least, there is a way where you can make another account stop following you. You could just have that account unfollow you, so they stop seeing your content as easily, and maybe they'll be less likely to comment on it.

Leah: You can also have it so you don't delete their comments, but only they see their comments.

Nick: Oh, is that a thing you can do?

Leah: Yep.

Nick: Oh, I like that option.

Leah: Also, I still don't like the idea that this person is bothering our letter-writer, and they feel like they have to continue this relationship because of the power dynamic.

Nick: Well, I'm sorry, welcome to the world we live in, though. We're not going to solve society.

Leah: I'm saying I'm bothered by it because it happens so often.

Nick: Yes. I mean, unfortunately, fixing that aspect of the world goes beyond the purview of this show.

Leah: I know, but unfortunately, now, with social media, it just comes in on all ... You're posting pictures with your friends, and then somebody in a higher job position comes in and makes jokes about shots. You're like, "Why do I have to deal with this right here?

Nick: Yeah, okay. We can have compassion for our letter-writer. I don't think that helped them.

Leah: No, but I want them to know that I took three Pepto-Bismo for them.

Nick: Yes. I don't like this scenario, but I think let's just break it down in terms of what they should do. Option one is they can have a polite, yet direct conversation with this person and basically just, in some way, indicate that you don't love these posts, and it would be great if they didn't do it. I think there is a polite way to do that, and if you didn't feel like it was going to be catastrophic for your career trajectory, maybe do that. Another option is to do the hidden comment, or the unfollow ... Use some Instagram technology to just minimize the chances that other people will see their postings or that they'll be able to post it all. I think that's fine.

Leah: No, but the other option that you had up top that I liked, was just to completely ignore it.

Nick: Or, you just ignore it, if it's not causing damage to your reputation. If it is causing damage to your reputation, though, I think you are free to do something about it. I don't think we have to accept that.

Leah: I guarantee you, though, that this person is doing it to everybody.

Nick: Yes, it's probably not personal. That's true. That's true. So, our next question is: "My father recently passed away and we asked for donations to a local charity in lieu of flowers. It has been six weeks since the funeral and I'm ready to write thank you notes to the people who sent gifts to the charity. Unfortunately, I've asked the director of the charity several times for a list of the people who sent donations in memory of my father, and I've told her why I need them. She keeps saying that she'll get it to me by a certain day, but then that day passes and she doesn't send me the list. It's a tiny charity, so there's nobody else I can ask. Should I write notes to the people who I know donated and then post on social media a blanket thank you to the others who may have donated? If so, do explain in the post that the charity hasn't given me a list of names of people to thank? I don't want to put the charity on blast, but I don't want my friends and family to think I'm rude or ungrateful. What do I do?"

Leah: This, I think, was the question that sealed ... I finished the Pepto on this question.

Nick: [Giggling] Okay, full bottle, today.

Leah: I would like to say up top, very sorry to our letter-writer for your father's passing.

Nick: Oh, yes.

Leah: Then secondly, I would like to say I think you should absolutely feel free to say something to that charity, i.e., putting them on blast. You've had donations given to them. You've given them money.

Nick: Yeah?

Leah: And raised awareness for them.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: And you lost your father. You've called and asked them ... They just have to give you a list, and they're not doing that!

Nick: Uh ...

Leah: And you are grieving!

Nick: Uh ..

Leah: Why can't she call them and be like, "I need to write these letters. You've multiple times told me this ..."

Nick: Mm-hmm?

Leah: "Can you tell me what the holdup is?"

Nick: [Laughing] Okay. Oooh, it's getting hostile! Uh, I-

Leah: Because this makes me very sad and angry.

Nick: No, I agree that this charity needs to cough up a list of names; totally agree with you there.

Leah: It's really not that hard. I've worked at a lot of non-profits. They just need to go into their computer, and click on a tab.

Nick: No, just get the FileMaker going and print something out, yes. But I do think that blasting them on social media, that's not nice. I don't think we need to go there yet.

Leah: No, I think that you should talk to them first.

Nick: Well, my suggestion here would be to subcontract. I think let's get a friend and just tell that friend, "Friend, would you please handle this for me," and let the friend harass the charity until you get the list. I think, as the grieving person here, let me just take myself out of the loop and not deal with it. I will write letters to everybody I already know who actually gave donations, and I will ask my friend to pester the charity to cough up the rest of the names, and then I'll write those letters when I can. I think, luckily, in this situation, there is not a hard deadline for when you have to get these letters out. There's a lot of slack available. So, if the letters are a month, two months later, this is fine. It's okay. Get the letters you can, and then have your friend drag the rest of the names out of the charity. I think that's how I'd handle it.

Leah: I think that's a perfect, perfect way to handle it.

Nick: If you want to be angry, and you want to leave a nasty Facebook message ... Okay, I guess you could do it that way.

Leah: I don't actually think I meant "on blast," like posting on social media, even though I know that's what that means-

Nick: What is "on blast"?

Leah: I just meant I would say something to them.

Nick: That's not blast.

Leah: I know it's not. I just wanted to say "on blast."

Nick: [Giggling] Yeah ...

Leah: Because I don't think I would ever write anything publicly, especially since I don't think that she's come at them in any way, directly, yet.

Nick: Yeah, I don't think you want to be like, *"Ughh, American Red Cross is the worst!"* Yeah, no, I don't think-

Leah: I love your suggestion. I think bringing in a friend is perfect. I do think our letter-writer could say to the nonprofit, though ... I think you're within your rights to say, "I'm upset about this."

Nick: I think you could. I think it's just, you have a lot on your plate, I'm sure, and I think just having a friend handle it and play good cop/bad cop would be good because, at the end of the day, you want this charity to get these donations. This was important to your father, or you, or somebody, so we want the charity to succeed. We also probably want a nice relationship with the charity because maybe we want to support them in the future. It would be nice if they were more responsive, but maybe it sounds like they need more staff ...

Leah: Well, they could be even appreciative, or recognizing that she's grieving, and helpful.

Nick: Yes. I would imagine that the charity probably hasn't sent their own thank you notes to these donors either, so those tax-deduction letters are probably not going out promptly.

Leah: I really love your idea of bringing in somebody to help, and to write-

Nick: Yes.

Leah: -and I think it was great. I just got a little worked up.

Nick: Fair enough. Whenever there's a death, friends are always like, "Oh, let me know if there's anything I can do." This is one of those things! I would definitely hand this off.

Leah: I think it's a great idea.

Nick: So, our next question is: "About a year ago, I was at a casual event at a local theater in Eugene, Oregon, for a live book reading and a comedic performance. It was about 15 minutes from the end of the performance and my semi-smartwatch notified me that my sister was calling. It was the only notification I'd received the entire performance, and I had not used my phone since before the performance began. My sister doesn't call often, so I decided to text her back, keeping my phone shielded within my bag as much as I could. It was a very short *"Everything okay?"* type of message. An older man sitting in the audience behind me clapped his hand down rather forcefully onto my shoulder and directed me to put my phone away. Not asked, directed. I know I was in the wrong, and I knew so at the time, but the reaction from the audience member felt like it was too much. There was another audience member in front of me a couple of rows down that had been on her phone the entire performance, and he never asked an usher to address that. Her behavior doesn't excuse mine, but hers was far more disruptive. Even almost a year later, I still don't feel like his reaction was appropriate. A gentle tap on the shoulder and an ask would have been completely fine, and I probably would have forgotten all about it by now. I'd love to hear your thoughts."

Leah: I think we should never grab a stranger.

Nick: Yes, I don't care for that. Yes, I think that's not great.

Leah: So, I think this person has felt a little roughed up. They had somebody grab their shoulder.

Nick: Yeah, I think that is not good. I mean, everybody could have done something differently here, I think.

Leah: Yeah, I just want to say that because I think one of the reasons that that's staying in their memory is because they were grabbed.

Nick: Grabbed by a stranger, yeah ... That'll stick with you. That was wrong, and that should not have happened.

Leah: That was wrong, and that should not have ... I just feel like that's important to say, and I'm-

Nick: Yeah, just in case that needs to be said, because it does ... So, I think that if this was a true emergency, or we thought there was an emergency happening, the more polite thing to do would have been to actually leave the theater, because I think even though standing up and walking through an aisle to get out of the theater is disruptive, that feels less disruptive to people around you than texting. For some reason, I think that's more respectful just to leave the auditorium altogether and then take the phone call. I think the idea that we're going to be texting while the performance is happening, this is not good. We shouldn't do that.

Leah: Yeah, and the fact that the person two seats down was doing it is not-

Nick: That is not material here.

Leah: Yep.

Nick: No. Un-uh! Don't throw her under the bus. No.

Leah: [Giggling]

Nick: Otherwise, I think it would have been best to just ignore the text from your sister until after the performance. I think unless it was a true emergency, that can wait 15 minutes. That's how I would have handled it, and, in general, unless you are anticipating an emergency, or there's a babysitter at home, or you're on call, I think it's just nice to power down all of your devices so that we don't have this temptation.

Leah: Yeah, well, I think you're right. If it's an emergency, just step outside and call.

Nick: Yeah. If you do think something's wrong - this is unusual. Why are you calling? Why are you texting? - then, yeah, absolutely just stand up, and just leave, and then handle it. Certainly, if there's multiple calls, when that's happening, multiple texts coming in, your phone's blowing up, then, yeah, something is wrong. Aside from that, I think you would just wait.

Leah: And he shouldn't have grabbed you.

Nick: Let's just talk briefly about what you should do as that audience member. Instead of grabbing, what could we have done differently?

Leah: What I imagine in my head happened, and I'm in no way excusing this behavior, but as I visualized this happening, as you read it, that audience member was probably so irritated at the other person who had been texting the whole time, but they were too far away to reach. So, then, when the person directly in front of them ... They were like, "I can't take it anymore!"

Nick: I see.

Leah: Then, they just did something wildly overreactive, and definitely inappropriate because We. Don't. Touch. People!.

Nick: Yeah, yeah. We don't do that, yes.

Leah: I'm not excusing their behavior at all. I was just creating the whole story in my head.

Leah: Now, how do you feel about a tap on the shoulder? Would a tap have been okay?

Leah: I mean, I don't know why you just can't lean in and go, "Please don't text."

Nick: Yeah, I think a lean into the ear, into your personal space, would probably have done the trick.

Leah: I just like to follow a "Don't touch people" rule.

Nick: Yeah, I think that's a good rule. Yeah. I don't even like tap. The more I think about it, I don't like tap. I would never tap. It would not occur to me.

Leah: No, it seems very-

Nick: Invasive!

Leah: Invasive, and also sort of patriarchal in this way.

Nick: Well, I think our letter-writer doesn't love it because it felt patronizing.

Leah: It's definitely patronizing! Well, I mean a grab is patronizing. A grab is being treated like a child!

Nick: Right, and she was directed to put her phone away. She wasn't asked.

Leah: Yeah, this person's out of line!

Nick: Yeah, so that shouldn't have happened. I think if you see someone texting, a lean in, a whisper, and then the gesture with your hand ... Be like, [Whispering] "Oh, would you put your phone down?" That's how to handle it. At home, you can't see me. I'm sort of like making a little paw, and I'm like pretending I'm ...

Leah: [Giggling] Yeah, he's pawing it down, gently.

Nick: I'm pawing at the air, yeah.

Leah: Definitely, the man ... A) You don't grab people, and B) you don't direct people who are not your toddlers on how to behave.

Nick: [Giggling] Right. That is true.

Leah: I see why this person is so upset about it.

Nick: That's true. So, our next question is: "I was wondering if you have any advice for when you're talking to someone who is just a bad storyteller. I have a friend who I don't spend much time with anymore because when she talks, it's all about her, but she also tells stories in the most boring way possible with little tangents about inconsequential details. Is there a polite way to tell her to get to the point?"

Leah: I just wrote underneath this: No. [Laughing]

Nick: Uh, true, true.

Leah: Is there a polite way to tell somebody to speed it up? No! Have I been stuck with horrible storytellers? I don't even ... They take these tangents. I don't even know where we're going.

Nick: Yeah, that's true.

Leah: Absolutely, I have!

Nick: Well, there's two things in this question, though. There is the, "I'm a bad storyteller," but there is also the, "I only talk about myself." Those are two very different things happening here.

Leah: Right. I think you could address that part, but that wasn't the question. Is there a polite way to tell somebody how to get to the point? No. Can you be like, "I'd like to talk about myself," and tell some of your own things ... Hop in there with your stories, absolutely!

Nick: Uh, okay, that's fair. Actually, I had the flip feeling, which was, if somebody always talks about themselves, do I want this friendship? What's in it for me? So, I would be like, "Ehh, I'm good here." The idea that someone is not a good storyteller, this is very common, I find. Storytelling is sometimes hard for some people. When this happens to me, what I do is I try and recap, and I find by jumping in and doing a quick recap of the story so far, that actually sometimes helps get it back on track. It's like, "Okay, let me just make sure I got this straight. So, you woke up, and you had breakfast, and now you're at the supermarket buying eggs. Okay, got it!"

Leah: [Giggling]

Nick: Then, that sometimes gets them more on track for where we're trying to go with the story. That's one way to try and steer it. Otherwise, you're right. There's just no way to do it.

Leah: I think trying to steer it, you could try to do. I like what you just said very much. Sometimes, I'll even say, when we get so far off track - I want to know what happened to the original person we were talking to - so I'll be like, "But what happened to Sandy?!" You know what I mean?

Nick: Oh, you want to follow all the other threads that we dropped.

Leah: Yeah, I'll be like, "What happened to the main thread?" I think it's possible- you can do that to, as you were saying, steer the story, but I don't think there's a polite way to tell people, "Get to the end of this. Where's the end coming?"

Nick: Uh, yeah ... Is there a way? Uh, yeah, I guess-

Leah: I mean, there is a way. It's not polite.

Nick: [Laughing] That's true. Yes. You just gotta tough it out. I guess this is not like at a cocktail party, where you could excuse yourself to refresh your drink, though. This is like we're on a park bench with a friend who's talking about their day-

Leah: But they've already said they don't hang out with this person much anymore.

Nick: Yeah, that's your best option.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Just avoid getting yourself in this situation in the first place.

Leah: I think the thing is you don't like this person is what this is. You're telling us you don't hang out with them anymore. They always talk about themselves, and you hate the way they tell stories. I think you just have to be like, "Maybe I actually just don't like this person."

Nick: Yeah, there's not a lot to hang your hat on. That's true. So, that's it. Yeah, just cut 'em loose!

Leah: I don't think you can say, "When are you going to get to the end of this story!* [Laughing]

Nick: Yes, "Can we get you the denouement already?"

Leah: [Laughing]

Nick: Yeah, that's it. Just to recap, a good story has a beginning, middle, and end. There needs to be an arc. We have to have some tension. There needs to be a climax, and then a resolution. Just make sure all your stories have all those elements, and we'll be okay.

Leah: I also love watching people tell stories. I don't have ... If you want to get to the point in five years, I'm coming along with you, but I do want to know what happened to Sandy. I'm going to go back and be like, "What happened?!" I need some closure on-

Nick: "What milk did she buy?"

Leah: Yeah, I need to know all of it! I love it!

Nick: Two percent?

Leah: One percent?

Nick: Whole milk?

Leah: Does she go to an almond sometimes?

Nick: Oat? Oh, my gosh! Well ...

Leah: [Giggling]

Nick: Do you have stories for us with lots of detail? Send them to us! You can send them to us at our website,, or you can leave us a voicemail, or send us a text message, (267) CALL-RBW (267-225-5729). We'll see you next time!

Leah: Bye!

Nick: Bye!