Dec. 21, 2020

Sharing Sonograms, Sending Company-wide Emails, Cleaning AirBNBs, and More

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this bonus episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about declining to see people's sonograms, sending company-wide emails, cleaning AirBNBs before departure, and much more. Please subscribe! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we had your address.)

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  • What do you do if you don't want to see someone's ultrasound photos?
  • How do you stop people from wanting to share too many YouTube videos with you?
  • What greeting is best for company-wide emails?
  • At an AirBNB, is it rude to ask guests to clean up in addition to charging a substantial cleaning fee?
  • Is it rude to share your podcast with people specifically to get them to stop doing the rude things you talk about?
  • Vent: Asking for your name at the drive-thru.
  • PSA: Don't go to weddings you don't want to go to.




Hosts: Nick Leighton & Leah Bonnema

Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton

Theme Music: Rob Paravonian


[Musical Interlude]

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

Leah: I'm Leah Bonnema!

Nick: We had 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 is: "I know that expecting parents and grandparents are delighted to share the news about their babies, just as I was when my children were expecting. However, how can I politely respond when I'm asked if I want to see ultrasound photos? I don't. I'm really thrilled along with them, but I don't need to view this very personal health information and, frankly, I most often can't tell what I'm looking at. Should I, in turn, ask them if they would like to see my mammogram? Perhaps that's a step too far, but you see where I'm going with this."

Leah: [Giggling]

Nick: Yeah, that's a little far.

Leah: I love this letter-writer.

Nick: [Giggling]

Leah: I do see where you're going.

Nick: Me, too.

Leah: Honestly, I wouldn't mind watching, if you want to get a little video, if you do have this conversation with somebody, and you're like, "Do you want to see my mammogram photo?" I think it would be hilarious.

Nick: Um, so -

Leah: [Laughing]

Nick: I think there is no polite way to decline an ultrasound.

Leah: I was hoping you would come up with a way when I read this.

Nick: I mean, because you're basically just saying, "I'm not interested in the birth of your child." That's what that says.

Leah: But it's not saying that because ultrasounds do feel really personal.

Nick: Oh, they definitely are. I mean, it is inside your body. Yes.

Leah: It's a very different photo than other pregnancy photos.

Nick: Oh, sure. Yes. It's inside your body. Yes. I think that makes it unique in many ways. [Giggling] So, yeah, I get that, but you are being offered this photo. The people who have this photo have already decided that they're comfortable sharing it with you. "We don't feel like it's too intimate to share, so we want to share it with you." You can't decline it. I think you just have to be like, "Sure, let me see. Okay." Our letter-writer doesn't find it disgusting. They're not disgusted by it. They don't find it horrifying. They're not disturbed by it. They just don't want to see it because they just don't know what they're looking at, and they feel like it's invasive.

Leah: They feel like it's, "Very personal health information."

Nick: Right, but this person is like, "I want to share it with you," so it's not that personal, then.

Leah: But it feels personal to her that she's looking at - It feels, I think, too intimate to her.

Nick: I get where our letter-writer is coming from. I don't want to minimize her annoyance - Is annoyance the tone here? I feel like it's kind of like being forced to see somebody's vacation photos for a vacation you weren't on and for a trip you're not interested in.

Leah: Oh, I don't think so. I think it's very particular because it's health information. It's inside of a body, and some people don't like seeing those things.

Nick: Okay, so we really think it's the fact that it's such an intimate medical photo-

Leah: Yes.

Nick: -is why our letter-writer is bothered.

Leah: Yep.

Nick: Okay, so then, I guess if that is truly what we think, or that's the angle we want to use, then I guess the thing you could say was like, "Oh, I'm actually a bit squeamish when it comes to medical imagery, so I'd rather not." I guess that could be the thing you could say.

Leah: I love that. I think you could say, "I'm a bit squeamish when it comes to medical imagery. I'm so excited for you!"

Nick: Yes, you do need to emphasize that in the same breath because you cannot leave them with the impression that, "I don't care about the child. It's just the imagery that I'm bothered by. It's not the fact that you're having a kid."

Leah: No, it's not at all, if she had her own children. She gets the excitement. She has her grandchildren.

Nick: Right.

Leah: I think that she genuinely feels put off, or some people have a physical response to photos of insides of people's bodies.

Nick: [Giggling] Okay.

Leah: That's how I read this.

Nick: Okay. If that really is how you feel about it, then I think you would actually want to have an honest reaction, which is like, "I am not comfortable with intimate photos in other people's bodies. However, congratulations! Wow! Amazing!"

Leah: "And please keep me posted!"

Nick: Right. Yeah, I guess that would be what you would do.

Leah: I do think it's going to cause a little bit of friction because those people are going to take it personally, regardless.

Nick: Of course they are. Yeah. That is how this is going to sound.

Leah: Yep, it's going to be taken personally, regardless, but I do think if that's a real reaction that you get - it feels too personal - that you're allowed to have that boundary.

Nick: Yes. And I do want to just say, you should not be sharing your mammogram photos to people outside of your medical team.

Leah: I think it's really funny, though. I think it's -

Nick: [Giggling]

Leah: I love that this person wrote it in, knowing that it was a no, but they just wanted to throw that out there for us. I felt like it was a fun-

Nick: Yeah, it's a fun detail. It's a fun visual, if you will.

Leah: Yeah, it's a fun visual because, you know, when something - You don't know how to handle something; it throws you off, so you start thinking of the things you wish you could do, but obviously never would. So, I just really appreciate that.

Nick: Our next question is: "My issue is about people who not only love YouTube videos, but love showing them to you even more. I get that they're excited and want to share, but I wish there was a social etiquette rule along the lines of: one video's okay; three is rude. Most of the time, I am forcing myself to watch one, out of just caring for the person and not wanting to squash their excitement, but it is a painful experience which then rarely stops after one because it's always, "Wait, you've just got to see this other one I saw the other day," and then I'm pulling out chunks of my hair. Maybe it's just me."

Leah: Are they sending you the videos on email? That's how I read this. They're sending the videos on email, or through Instagram DMs?

Nick: I felt like this was live, like we're hanging out, and I just whipped out my phone, and I was like, "Oh, check out this video!"

Leah: Oh, really? I never would have guessed that.

Nick: I mean, that's the thing that happens.

Leah: It's never happened to me.

Nick: Because if you text me a YouTube video - If you text me three, I'm not bothered by three little boxes in my inbox.

Leah: Well, I think our letter-writer, as a possibility - if that's what it was - felt like they had to watch all three; come back with comments on them.

Nick: Uh, okay. I guess you could feel obligated. I mean, you can watch two seconds of it, or you can just double tap, and do a thumbs up on it, and not watch it. That's fine. I mean, rarely is there going to be follow up from the person to be like, "Oh, what did you think about minute 67 of this YouTube video? Let's discuss that moment." So, I think it's probably fine. No, I think this is live, in the flesh.

Leah: Oh, I think if it's live, in the flesh, which actually hasn't happened to me, I think you're free to be like-

Nick: You've never had this, where somebody was like, "Oh, I gotta show you this video?"

Leah: No.

Nick: Really?! Oh, my gosh. Story of my life.

Leah: I think if somebody did that, and then there was a second video, I'd be like, "Send it to me. Let me watch it at home."

Nick: Yeah, that is the solution.

Leah: "We're hanging out now, and I just want to chat, but I'll watch it later."

Nick: Yeah, "Text it to me." I think that would be the solution if this is live. "I'll watch one, and I'll watch a few seconds of it, and then, I'll be like, "Oh, my God, this is so great!" Then, yeah, for any subsequent, be like, "Oh, text it to me."

Leah: Yeah. Then, lean into it being because you want to use this time to hang or whatever.

Nick: Quality time with you, here, right now.

Leah: [Giggling] Yeah.

Nick: But, if it's via text, and our person is bothered by it, then what are you supposed to do?

Leah: I like what you just said. You don't have to watch it.

Nick: Yeah. I think you don't have to watch it if it's via text. Just say you did.

Leah: You don't even have to say you did because I understand feeling like-

Nick: Oh, that's deceit. Okay.

Leah: I do understand when people send you videos, and you feel like, "I gotta watch all these right now?" I think you can tell people, "Oh, Thanks for sending. Can't watch it right now."

Nick: Yes. You should acknowledge receipt, like, "Oh, thank you. Awesome!" Yeah, then, if you get to it, or you don't, I guess it's up to you.

Leah: Yeah. I think that's totally fine.

Nick: That's totally fine. But, yeah, should there be a rule: one is okay; three is not? Is there a number?

Leah: I didn't know this was happening, I guess, but maybe there are friend groups in which people sit around and watch videos all the time, and everybody loves it.

Nick: Uh, that is definitely happening. Yes. I think, if you're the person that has a video that you want to share, I think you should be mindful of people's time. So, make sure it's really a good video. Curate! Make sure it's actually worth my time, right now. Then, also, make sure I don't have to watch the whole thing. If there's a moment that's key, let's cue that up. Also, don't make me watch to the end. I do not need to ever see the entire YouTube video. Those are some pro tips, if you're going to take my time with a video on your phone.

Leah: I think you can also be like, "Hey, I wanted to show this video to you. Do you mind? It's 90 seconds."

Nick: Asking for permission, I like that. Yes. See if it's okay. Although, 90 seconds - Do you know how long 90 seconds is?

Leah: Oh, I know exactly how long 90 seconds is.

Nick: 90 seconds is a long time! We're halfway through the show in 90 seconds.

Leah: 90 seconds, you should have had three punch lines.

Nick: Yeah, absolutely! I mean, the 90 seconds, this is forever, if it's a bad YouTube video. Curate. That's my advice.

Leah: I love it.

Nick: Our next question is: "When writing an internal email to all the staff of an organization, what should the salutation be?

Leah: [Giggling] I love that because I assume that they wanted to be serious, and not like a "Hey, what's up everybody?"

Nick: Hands-up emoji

Leah: Yeah [Giggling]

Nick: Yes, I think we're assuming we want to be professional. I'm sensing that the question is about what is the correct professional thing to write for a serious organization that does business. So, I feel like that's the parameters that I'm operating under. I like a "Dear Team:" or "Dear Finance Department:" or "Hello, All:" - I think all of those are kind of neutral and fine.

Leah: I think "Hello, All:" I like. It's a bit warmer. I think you could even say, "Dear *Name of the Organization Team:" -

Nick: Okay, "Dear Acme Widget Corp. team:" -

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Okay, yeah. That's fine. I think what we don't want to do is use emoji, or be like, "Hey -"

Leah: Or be like, "Hiiiiiii!!!!!!" with seven I's, and six exclamation points.

Nick: Also frowned upon, right?

Leah: I think "Hello, All:" is slightly more casual, but still completely professional, and I like a "Dear Blank Team:" -

Nick: Yeah, I think a "Dear Blank Team," "Dear Colleagues," Dear Whatever Department This Is." I think ":" is nice. It's a little colder. If it's a "Dear Team:" colon is a little colder than "Dear Team," so I think you want to be mindful of like how much warmth do you want with this punctuation.

Leah: Oooph!

Nick: Or, there's a dash "-" Hmmm. How do we feel about the dash?

Leah: If I do a dash up top, I feel like I've got to do a dash on the bottom.

Nick: Absolutely. We want to have mirroring punctuation there. That's true. Mm-hmm. Yep, yep. Actually, in my handwritten correspondence, I use a dash, like, "Dear Leah-" and then, at the end, dash. Okay, so I think we answered this, yeah?

Leah: Yeah, and I like the point that... I wouldn't have thought about it. Colon is significantly more cold than a comma.

Nick: Yes, although period would take it up a notch.

Leah: [Laughing]

Nick: "Dear Accounting Department."

Leah: Or, at this point, you could just put "Team" in quotation marks [Laughing]

Nick: "Colleagues."

Leah: [Laughing] Nick just air-quoted in case you couldn't catch it from his voice.

Nick: [Giggling] Our next question is: "I'm currently staying at an Airbnb and part of the cost I paid was a $60 cleaning fee. Now that I'm here, there's a note in the condo saying that I'm supposed to strip all the linens and bring them to the laundry room, start a laundry load, run the dishwasher, and tidy up the space. I'm all for tidying up messes and making things as easy as possible, but is it rude to charge someone a substantial cleaning fee and then also request that they do a significant amount of cleaning themselves?"

Leah: Nick?

Nick: This is tricky because you're not a house guest. You're in an Airbnb. So, the relationship is not actually guest and host, even though that's the words that Airbnb uses. This is a business relationship. This is like a hotel. You have a contract with these people. So, you know, the business is free to set whatever terms they want, as long as you agree to them. You agreed to a $60 cleaning fee. That's reasonable because they disclosed it. You were okay with that; you said, "Fine."

Now, it does sound like you were surprised by this extra list of things, so it would have been nice if that was also disclosed when you booked it, so that you could know, "There's a $60 cleaning fee, and then, also, we will ask you to do X, Y, Z before you leave." That way, you could have an informed decision about whether or not you want to book this place. I can see that not having this disclosed was a little surprising. Now, is it rude? No because this is a business thing. This is just sort of unprofessional. It's not an etiquette thing. It's just bad business.

"I also think it's a thing - I'm not somebody who has ever asked to see a manager in my life. I think we've discussed this. One time, I-

Nick: You are definitely not a "I need to speak with your supervisor" type.

Leah: But I do think that this is a thing- I haven't used Airbnb, but I've been booked through bookers for comedy, where they've put me in Airbnb places. I think there's places where people can have dialog with the host, also, for the next people who stay there, to be like, "Oh, there's a cleaning fee," but also, people should know because this is also a time thing. If you're there for work, and you're running in and out, I should know in advance that I'm going to have to spend at least 30 minutes - You know what I mean?

Nick: Yeah, no, this definitely should be disclosed in advance. I get that actually running the dishwasher makes sense, because if I'm an Airbnb host, when am I going to get to the place to do my full cleaning? So, actually, for dirty dishes that can get more disgusting, actually run the dishwasher. For the sheets thing, though, if you're going to have me run a load, and start it, meaning there's going to be wet laundry in the washing machine after I'm done, you're going to show up pretty quickly because I don't think you're going to get like a ball of wet laundry sit in the washing machine for a week before you come to do your serious cleaning. So, you're probably coming that afternoon anyway.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: But if you want to have a policy where this is what you require of your guests, then have at it. Just disclose it in advance. I think the question is: is this etiquette when it's truly a business relationship? I think my feeling is this is not an etiquette thing.

Leah: But I think it would be polite, and appropriate for the people running the Airbnb to disclose that up top.

Nick: Right. I don't know if I would even use the word polite. It's just what should be done. It's proper.

Leah: It's proper, which I think is polite.

Nick: [Giggling] Well, I mean, politeness feels like more of a social thing.

Leah: Yeah, but why can't we be polite in business?

Nick: We can be polite business. Yeah, why do I not like the idea that this is politeness. It just feels like you should disclose things to your customers in advance. So, I guess, is it rude to not disclose things? Yeah, I guess we could use the word "rude." I mean, it feels like politeness is more how they would respond. So, if you call them out for this, like, "Oh, you didn't disclose this, so I didn't do it," and then, they were rude about it, well, then, that's an etiquette thing, but just having a policy that you didn't disclose, I don't know if that inherently has an etiquette quality to it. The etiquette essence comes in once human interaction comes to play. Etiquette requires human interaction. Etiquette doesn't exist in a vacuum of contracts.

Leah: I still think it would've been polite-

Nick: [Giggling]

Leah: I see what you're saying.

Nick: Yes.

Leah: I would still say, it would have been polite for you to-

Nick: It should have been done. Yes.

Leah: It should have been done.

Nick: It should have been done, and it would have been courteous-

Leah: Courteous!

Nick: -and thoughtful-

Leah: And thoughtful!

Nick: -to your guests if they knew what was expected of them, so they weren't surprised because it is rude to surprise people you're doing business with. Okay, I'm coming around on this.

Leah: [Giggling] You don't have to come around!

Nick: No, no, I'm going on a full journey on this. Yeah. So, that's true. It is inconsiderate to your guests if they are caught off guard.

Leah: Then, if they disclose this, and you don't agree with that, then you don't have to stay there.

Nick: Right, yes. Don't book it. But once you've already booked it, you've committed. Now, they change the rules of engagement? Well, then, that's a problem.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Okay, so our next question is: "Is it rude or passive aggressive to send an episode of your podcast to an individual causing a grievance you talk about on the show? For example, in Episode 56, 'My parents both bring over food we don't want every time they visit, sometimes going as far as saying, 'We know you said you don't want it in the house, but here it is.'' On that episode, you also addressed that 'Whenever they want to force an activity on us, they ask an open-ended, 'What are you doing on Tuesday?' when we already see them three or four times a week, and it doesn't give us an out, if we're burnt out on hosting? I'm so tempted to just send that episode to them so that we might be free of the constant flow of unwanted food and the ominous requests for more visits than we can handle.'

Leah: Obviously, Nick, and I would love for our podcast to be shared with everybody [Laughing]

Nick: I would, but not like this.

Leah: Not like this, but if you just want to say, "Oh, we enjoy this podcast," and send it out, that's a delight!

Nick: Super into that. Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, my first thought is, do you think sharing our show with these people is really going to move the needle? Do you think they're going to listen to this episode and be like, "Ahhh, that's me! I do those things! I will stop immediately ..."? That's not what's going to happen. We don't live in that world.

Leah: I do think this is one of those things where it's either a let it go, or what seems to be your last option because it's wearing that you have to sit down and have a serious conversation about, "I really mean it. I don't want this food in the house. I appreciate you wanting to share, but I really mean it."

Nick: Yeah, no, I think we just need to have some good old-fashioned boundary setting. That's what's happening.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Just got to set some boundaries. It's totally possible to set boundaries in a polite way, and that's what needs to happen. If you don't want to do that, then, yeah, you just have to accept that this is your fate, and that's it. Those are your choices.

Leah: Yeah. Then, I think the second one is different than the bringing the food over. I think it's a different conversation.

Nick: Well, I think it's all about boundary setting, which is like-

Leah: Oh, it's definitely about boundary setting, but it's about time-

Nick: Yeah, that's true. For the second one, when this happens, it is a trap. You should not ask open-ended things like that, but you can also say no. "Are you free on Tuesday?" "Free for what? Tell me more." You don't have to accept every request to come over. You can decline.

Leah: I think you can also say- sometimes, people think if you don't have an appointment on that day, it means you're free, but you could be doing a bunch of things.

Nick: Yes.

Leah: So, you could say, "I have a bunch of projects I'm working on. I know I'm seeing you Thursday. So, looking forward to then."

Nick: I don't think you even need to explain what you're up to. There are many evenings where I don't have anything scheduled, and that's what I have scheduled. I have tonight with nothing. That's what I'm planning on doing. I would enjoy doing that. That's what's on my calendar - nothingness. So, I don't have to explain that to anybody. I'm not available to hang out.

Leah: You don't, and neither does our letter-writer. I do think if her relationship with her parents is one that they come over three to four times a week, my guess is that just immediately not explaining things to them would be such a change.

Nick: Yes. I mean, a pattern has been established.

Leah: Right.

Nick: So, it will take some time to break that.

Leah: So, maybe explaining that you are just sort of busy, in general-

Nick: Hmm.

Leah: -have a lot happening, and need those days, but you're looking forward to seeing them the next scheduled time.

Nick: Yes, I think if you decline an invitation, you could, in that same breath, offer when you are free to just have something on the calendar. That would be one way to handle it.

Leah: Yeah, she's saying they're already seeing them three or four times a week, so the chances are the next thing is already on the calendar.

Nick: [Giggling] Yes, true; with food you don't want.

Leah: [Laughing] I think you could also send out a group email to your close family, and friends, saying, "You should listen to this podcast ..."

Nick: Oh, sure, yes! We don't want to discourage you from getting the word out about our show. We would love that, but you can't use us. You still have to do the hard work of having the hard conversations.

Leah: [Laughing]

Nick: No, you should definitely get the word out. They might enjoy the show. Then, suddenly, you know, over time, when they listen to enough episodes, they might get the general approach of what we like to talk about here. They might get it. Yeah, it's possible.

Leah: [Giggling] You're like, "Episode 56, at 13:20; check it out!"

Nick: [Giggling] So, the next thing is a vent, which we love. As a reminder, you can send in your vents, or repents, to Somebody wrote in, which is: "Every morning, I go through a drive-thru to get coffee. Recently, they have started addressing patrons with, "My name is so-and-so. What's your name?" I find this annoying. This isn't so they can write my name on the cup. It's just a customer service thing. To me, it reads as completely fake, and also, it's 6:00 a.m. My name is Shhhh." [Giggling]

Leah: I love Get it out! Set it free!

Nick: Yeah. Oh, you'll feel so much better.

Leah: Yeah, a lot of times, you've just got to get it out there, and then it doesn't bother you anymore.

Nick: I get this. Yeah, I don't like that fake friendliness that does happen with customer service.

Leah: I wrote: "I'm sure the person working the drive-thru hates this as much as you do."

Nick: Oh, that's true. That's a good point. This is at a restaurant. If you sit down, and they introduce themselves, but then they want to know what your name is like ... Oh, that's ... I don't want that.

Leah: [Giggling] A lot of times, I remember when I was - your manager would come up with these new things, and be like, "Why don't you go to table, you ask everybody their names, you assign people - you tell them, 'Oh, you remind me of a flower!'" You know what I mean? People just come up with these things, then you had to do it, and you wanted to tell the people, "I don't want to have to do this either. I know we're all uncomfortable. I just have to do my job!"

Nick: So, you are like a lilac! [Giggling]

Leah: I think, person in the drive-thru A) get it out! Thank you for sharing! 6:00 a.m., nobody even wants to talk! But I think you could be like, "Hey, Sarah, it's 6:00 a.m. Put my name down as Grumpy!" [Laughing]

Nick: I think that is the only thing you can do. Have fun with it. Come up with different names.

Leah: Yeah, come up with different names and know that the person asking you hates it as much as you do.

Nick: Yeah, that's all you can do. Our next thing is a PSA, which is: "I feel I need to weigh in on one of your wedding bonus episodes regarding going to a wedding that you don't really want to go to. PLEASE DON'T GO!" She wrote that in caps "There's a good chance that if you don't particularly care for someone, they don't particularly care for you either. They are only inviting you to avoid the awkwardness that comes with inviting everyone in your group but you. They don't want to spend the extra money on people they don't really like and are secretly hoping you will decline. Let's stop this nonsense!"

Leah: [Laughing] I love these!

Nick: Uh-huh. That's true.

Leah: I love these.

Nick: That's true. Yes. I guess I don't really strongly recall the wedding episode off the top of my head, but I'm sure I said something along the lines of if you don't really want to go to a wedding, you don't have to, which is true, but I think it's, if you don't want to go to wedding, don't go, because they don't want you to go.

Leah: Well, I think this was in response to one of our questions, which I feel- there was the one - I think it's in response to two. There was one about inviting a whole group, but then there was one where somebody just felt obligated to go.

Nick: Right.

Leah: She's being like, "Don't! Just don't do it!"

Nick: Don't do it. They don't want you there!

Leah: Set us all free! When can we set ourselves free?

Nick: Absolutely. So, we want to set you free [Giggling] so send us your questions. You can send them to us through our website,, or you can send us a text message, or leave us a voicemail; (267) CALL-RBW (267-225-5729) We'll see you next time!

Leah: Bye!

Nick: Bye!

[Instrumental Theme Song]