Episode 11: Kate Middleton’s Hands
In this episode of Awesome Etiquette
A listener wants to know if she should follow Kate Middleton’s example regarding what to do with her hands while standing still. Lizzie and Dan have the answer.
Speaker 1: Maybe it's just that you don't know how to use social
Speaker 1: watch. How busy Post and damn posts and actors hosting.
Speaker 1: They know that courtesy means showing respect, thinking of the other person, real friendliness.
Speaker 2: You're listening to awesome etiquette, which is proud to be a part of the Infinite Guests Network. I'm Lizzy Post,
Speaker 1: and I'm Dan Post sending from the Emily Post Institute.
Speaker 2: So after much not traveling in my life, I have not traveled near a bar recently. I am actually getting kind of a big travel week. I'm headed Teoh first down to New Orleans for the Saints 40 Niners game on
Speaker 1: Sunday. I know.
Speaker 2: I'm like I'm so excited. This is my first game in the dome. My best friend Nick is coming with me like I can't wait for this. And then while I'm down there, I'm going to get to meet my God daughter. And then I go straight from New Orleans to New York City for an Airbnb ah spokesperson campaign. I'm gonna be hosting a party down in New York City with Spike Mendelson from Top Chef. I'm like I'm like it was like a big week, but the truth of The matter is, I need your advice
Speaker 2: because the big thing that I don't kind of know is So I'm meeting My God daughter. It's not. There was no ceremony. There's no official baptism, but I am her honorary godmother. And I want to know cause you're got your godfather. Like, of
Speaker 1: course, first of all, congratulations.
Speaker 2: Thank you. I'm really, really excited about it. It really is. It's an honor and a privilege. Someone,
Speaker 1: when a new parent wants you to be a part of their kid's life, that's a really special thing. And as you know, I had that experience recently with my niece, Stella Grace, and she's amazing. And it's been so much fun to get to know her just over the first year of her life and think about knowing her for the next 18 20 hopefully longer than
Speaker 2: that 40 50 and and it really think
Speaker 1: that's one of the reasons that such a big honor that this is this is something that's not just a flash in the pan, but it's gonna be with you. So again, congratulations of that as well as the Saints and New York City.
Speaker 2: Yeah, no, this is really fun week. But what did it so like? You know, I know gifts are typical. What did you wind up doing for Selah Grace? Because I need ideas.
Speaker 1: Um, very smart person gave me a tip and said, Think about a gift. That is something that you could be You could grow over time. And for some people, that might be a little account with some money in it. For someone else, it might be a necklace that's got charms that you could add to each year. Maybe it's even something as nice as if you wanted to go there. A string of pearls that you added a pearl to each year and by the time they're 18 has become a graduation present. That's a nice string of girls and might not break the bank at any one particular year over time. Really a cruise into a nice a nice gift. I love that idea, and I went with something along those lines for my God daughter. But the other piece of advice that I would really give is toe. Think about how you are gonna approach that child as they grow up and really make yourself available to them as someone that they can come to when they need in a year or would like a near or just might want some sound advice. And and it's a special relationship. It can be a religious relationship. You might want to be prepared for the christening or the baptism, and
Speaker 2: they said they're not going to do that. This is this is honorary, but
Speaker 1: good to check in with the parents because they're gonna have some direction, toe offer about that, whatever that is. And oftentimes these days it's not necessarily a religious role, But it's it's an honor. Do
Speaker 2: you have godparents?
Speaker 1: I do have a God parent, and I'm one. Yep, as I'm putting together the guest list for the wedding, she's on it on, and I think of her as that. And when I run into her at a local play or hockey game, it's a real treat to introduce her as the Godfather.
Speaker 2: When a still told me that I could be the godmother, I was just like over the moon, and I even remember being like so, even though you're not doing a baptism, is this like official like she'll know me as this person? Or is this like you're an Auntie Lizzie? And because No, no, no, it's OK, It could be official. It's like OK, good, because I'd be really good at this. I have to really good godparents on and showed me the way it is,
Speaker 1: such as back fuel. Your enthusiasm really is really nice. It's congratulations. Once again, I know I've said it before, but
Speaker 2: thank you very much. And now how about we get to some listener questions?
Speaker 1: Think that's a great idea,
Speaker 1: right?
Speaker 1: Because so much dough. Sure, there's a lot to learn, but it's worth it.
Speaker 1: And learning is easy. One way is by watching others
Speaker 1: on every episode of awesome etiquette. We take your questions on how to behave.
Speaker 2: This question comes from Rachel in San Francisco, and she writes Dear Lizzie and Dan. I really enjoy listening to awesome etiquette. I first started listening to your etiquette advice on dinner party download and was so excited to learn that you were starting your own podcast. Well, thank
Speaker 1: you. Reach. Thank you kindly
Speaker 2: on your first episode. I believe you suggested that people write in with ways in which they would like to see etiquette evolve. Which brings me to a situation I struggle with growing up. My dad always open doors for my mom and me, and what I learned was that it's consider it to open the door for the people that you're walking with as a woman, though I run into difficulty. When I opened doors for men with my boyfriend, I do let him arrive at the door first and hold it open for me because I know it's important to him to do these types of chivalrous things for me. I also very much enjoyed being treated as a lady when we go out together. However, in my professional and non romantic relationships, I'd like to be able to hold the door for a male friend or colleague as a sign of courtesy. Many times, though, when I get to the door first and hold it open, men will refuse to let me hold the door for them
Speaker 2: in order to not get into a politeness standoff. I defer and let the man hold the door for me, but I'd like to be able to show my male friends and colleagues the same courtesy that they show me. Is this a situation where it's time for etiquette to evolve. Or should I accept that men are not yet ready to let women hold the door open for them in non romantic relationships?
Speaker 1: Rachel, thanks for the good question.
Speaker 1: And I would say in direct answer to your question, that not only is this a situation where it's time for etiquette to evolve, it's a situation where etiquette has evolved and there is a new standard. And that standard is that in business, we really strive for a gender neutral playing field of a playing field where everybody can operate in the same way. And I think your question perfectly illustrates the importance of that. And it can be the importance just of having the permission to perform that courtesy for someone else, that that's an important part of the social niceties that we that we all engage in an employee with each other.
Speaker 1: So I would say Absolutely, that's a standard. I like the way you're drawing the clear distinction between business and social life because we definitely also here at the Emily Post Institute, how important certain gendered courtesies are. Two people, particularly in the social sphere, often times when I'm doing business trainings, all caution. People say, You know, this might not be the best first date behavior, but when you're in the office, you really want to be careful not to impose your courtesy on anyone else you wanna, And the advice we give is asked permission to perform the courtesy. So a simple May I get that for you? Can I help you with that? My cousin Anna, who's who's brilliant Um says that it's not just about men performing courtesies for women. It's about people performing courtesies for people. And I really like that. That's standard. So it's definitely something we want to shoot. Four. We want help, everybody get there.
Speaker 2: And I think one of the situations that I feel like Rachel's running into, which I can totally understand is that she goes to open that door for someone, and they're like, No, no, no, like, let me do it and you don't want to. Then go back like that, silly. I have the door for you already go through. I do think it's OK. Um, you know, on your first attempt, you might try saying something like, No, it's OK, I've got it And if they still insist after that, then personally, I would just let it go because you're right. You don't want to get off into that standoff, and you never know. This might be the guy who's like Mother ingrained in him, and he just can't live with himself
Speaker 1: if he doesn't hold the door
Speaker 2: for a woman, whether it's in business or not, Um, but if it's someone, maybe you have a team member that you're always with and this is always happening and you're just like
Speaker 2: you gotta let it go, you might say something. You know, you could try mentioning like Jim, That's silly. I've got the door, Don't worry about it. And it's okay for every now and again for you to insist a little bit, too. But that's on Lee. If you really feel you need Teoh, let's bear in mind. This is just a courtesy that's happening. It's just a door that's being held open, and I appreciate the intention behind wanting to hold it for your male friends and colleagues. But if they're really being sticklers
Speaker 2: and you know
Speaker 1: the sort of concluding thought I might leave you with Rachel's, I'm often traveling on business, and people are often on their best behavior when they're hosting someone from the Emily Post Institute. And I have people offer to hold the door for me all the time, both men and women, and I'm usually burdened with presentation materials and maybe even my luggage, and I'm usually appreciative of that effort. So I think this is a great one toe to keep going. Keep paying it forward. Keep performing those courtesies for other people because you're absolutely in safe territory, particularly in the business world of treating everybody the same.
Speaker 2: Dan, I have a question for you, though, because you're you're Dude, I am not a dude.
Speaker 2: When when you come across guys that say that my mother is so ingrained in me and you know, we get this a lot from, um, people who live in the South and we're trained to say ma'am and sir and up north, some of us are like, Don't call me mam. You know how How do you respond as a guy? If if that's like how a za guy talking to other guys,
Speaker 2: I'd like to
Speaker 1: acknowledge that it could be really important to someone. Yeah, and I. Also, this is one where I bring up the platinum rule. We talked about it a couple shows ago, but it's not about treating everybody the way you'd want to be treated. It's about thinking about other people and how they want to be treated. And that's the platinum rule you have toe. You have to take into account their standards. So even if you were raised with it and you're really committed to it,
Speaker 1: I ask those people to be aware that not everybody is raised with those same standards and expectations. And if if for someone else it's important to be able to do it themselves and to play that role for you sometimes I think it's important toe to take that into account. Think about it.
Speaker 2: I was just thinking about that as you were saying in my head, I was like So what happens if both Rachel and the other guy who's like insisting on holiday both think about the Blattner and Roll and they're both trying to let the other one didn't Now, Now it's the opposite security shows or my favorite,
Speaker 1: though that dance
Speaker 1: and it is special
Speaker 2: until I hope that helps
Speaker 1: indeed
Speaker 1: our next questions. A tough one,
Speaker 1: our listener asks. My daughter was given a birthday gift from her three friends. They purchased a concert ticket for her.
Speaker 1: And all was well until my daughter made a very bad choice. Her choice was unsafe, unhealthy and broker trust. It was serious enough for us to question her judgment and lack of being able to just say no.
Speaker 1: We decided a concert is not a place for her at this time. I wanted to give the ticket back to the girls so they could sell it. My husband said it was wrong to give it back and to give it to her older brother. I feel this is not the honorable thing to do. Who is right?
Speaker 1: PS she celebrate her birthday at home with friends and dinner out.
Speaker 2: Okay, so she did get to celebrate her birthday. Um, this is really tough, because this is a parental judgment call, and and you guys are divided on this, and that makes it difficult. Um, my inclination is don't punish the friends for a mistake the daughter made.
Speaker 2: And the friends the friends did this further friend. And for your daughter, their friend, and, um, it's a really wonderful gesture. I mean, that's that's a pretty incredible birthday present for a group of friends to get together and make happen for a girl that they really care about. And, um,
Speaker 2: my inclination would be to find a way to go to the concert with her, to chaperone her there, as opposed to make her miss out on something that her friends had had had done. You know, it's It's to me. I start looking at it as this really hits
Speaker 2: at and knocks down what the's friends have done for her.
Speaker 2: She did make a bad choice, and as her parents, I think it's really appropriate for you to want to discipline her. And and I totally understand not
Speaker 1: being able to trust boundaries in
Speaker 2: and to establish boundaries around when trust is broken. But I would go the route of trying to get another ticket or, um, finding a way to accompany her. Um, I I would also consider talking with the girls about if they could understand the ticket being given back to them.
Speaker 2: But I still there's something in me that just it does not sit well with my inner gut when I talk about giving that ticket to the brother or give because that's not who is intended for. I mean, I hear
Speaker 1: you on that I I wonder about.
Speaker 1: There's the letter of the law. The legal question. It was a gift. Once it's given the friends no longer really have control over what happened, What happens
Speaker 2: to it? That's very true. Very true.
Speaker 1: There's a perspective that says at that stage, it's the daughters toe lose. And if she loses it, I appreciate the
Speaker 1: perspective you're coming at it from, uh, and the idea of giving it to the older brother that that feels a little strange to me, even though I think that it's technically not wrong.
Speaker 1: Maybe including the friends and I. I liked where you were starting to feel that way about talk to the friends. Is there a way they can use? Is there? Is there 1/4 friend? Is there someone else in the group who would go instead? So the ticket doesn't go to waste?
Speaker 2: I mean, clearly, whatever trust was broken is seriously
Speaker 2: on. And
Speaker 1: if the parents probably there's no question in their mind, yeah, that part of the punishment is that their daughter is not gonna be going out till she earns that trust back. And that's going to take ah, specific set of things happening that are gonna happen before this concert. I think that might be up to the daughter to help the parents negotiate it. Maybe she's the one who has to talk to the friends, and that's part of the way she starts to build that trust back, that she talks to the friends about why she can't go and she wants their health figuring out
Speaker 2: it might be about first saying, I can't accept this ticket anymore because I have broken my parents trust. I do think giving it back to the friends is is out of if we're not gonna let her go. If you can't go with her, if you can't somehow make it work out, then yes, I would probably give it back to the friends I would not. I would not give it to the brother,
Speaker 1: giving them a chance.
Speaker 2: Like I think it's so think about. If it was a different type of gift, let's say let's say you got a gift and you had done something wrong. So your parents wanted to punish you by not letting you have it. They just give it to your sibling. I mean, that seems really weird to me.
Speaker 2: I'm sorry, Father, who's saying Give it to the brother. But I'm really not on his size
Speaker 1: of awkwardness here about but But the awkwardness is part of this situation. And that's why I a little bit like the idea of talking to the daughter and engaging her in part of the process of resolving this awkwardness that now everyone has to deal with the parents, the friends and her, but no
Speaker 2: need to
Speaker 1: bring 1/4 party. And yeah,
Speaker 2: no, I wouldn't bring the fourth party and but definitely ah, a couple different options there and we wish you good luck. And and we hope that she at least did have a good birthday with her dinner out her Thanks
Speaker 1: for the PS. That helps and and also good luck to the daughter. Reestablishing that trust. Yeah,
Speaker 1: Lauren rights
Speaker 1: should host require their guests to remove their shoes when visiting their home. It's your house. You can do what you want, but I'm also not one to take off my shoes just anywhere. It's almost like stripping down for me. I think if you want guest to take off their shoes, you should supply indoor slippers by the door and warn people ahead of time. Thank you.
Speaker 2: You know, what I love about this question is that she gets the right answer like it actually is. Um, this is a hotly debated topic, depending on your situation. For instance, those who have a newborn infant where you really have to be careful about bringing too many germs. And I mean, don't get me wrong. It's good to expose your kid to a certain number of germs, build up the immunities and everything, but at the very, very first few weeks of infancy, it's really important to not quite gets home any germs into the household. Um, I remember going to visit our cousin Jeep and Jessica when little Carter was born and having to remove my shoes and then go wash my hands. And it's because they live in New York and streets of pretty darn dirty, and it's really important for them to try to protect him as
Speaker 1: much as possible. We're here in Vermont mud season.
Speaker 2: Ruin your carpets
Speaker 1: carefully maintained home. And you're wearing boots that you just can't walk from your car to the front door without making a mess.
Speaker 2: And so there's a couple different things to think of. One. If you're in something like a mud season or you know you're going to someone's home, who they are being. A bit of a neatnik will say, and they love t keep it really clean. Bring that spare pair of shoes that you can wear that are, you know, your quote unquote indoor shoes. But also I just want to go out there and say, Just my opinion on it is No, I really don't like being asked to remove my shoes in someone else's home.
Speaker 2: Don't get me wrong. I'm very comfortable walking around barefoot or in my socks. But I think if you've invited me to a dinner in your home, I've planned an outfit to wear for it. I really don't wanna have to take part of that off just to enjoy my time in your place. Um, I think it's It's ah, you know, shoes are part of our wardrobe. They're a part of feeling polished and finished and dress. There's a reason we don't mean unless you're what's his name from Mad men walking around your office with your shoes off. There's a reason we don't do it well, and I like the
Speaker 1: way you're approaching it, where you know that it's something that you prefer. You'd rather wear shoes, so you're holding the standard to yourself, then I think, to myself, ahead of time prepared exactly as a host. It's definitely worth noting Lizzie's perspective on this, that if this is something you feel really strongly about, that you let people know ahead of time. So people that also feel strongly about it the other way can take care of themselves.
Speaker 2: And you might think
Speaker 1: about.
Speaker 1: I sometimes grab the slippers that you get a nice hotel,
Speaker 2: right? Like those set us that your best
Speaker 1: to be able to carry away, and I'll keep a little collection of them. So when it is the heart of but season, if someone does show up in boots and they're not gonna wear those around the house, you can offer him a pair of slippers. I think it's a really nice thing. Todo it's that is a standard,
Speaker 2: and it's also it's It's a nice thing to have to offer, just in case your guest wants to be the one to remove their shoes. If they're like Oh, gosh, I just didn't bring a spare pair. And these looks so horrible. I don't want toe, you know, track stuff through your house. It's nice toe. Have that right there. I had a friend growing up whose mother would knit these little slippers, and we would all as kids. You know, You take your mud boots off and you put these little slippers on, and it was it was fun and comfy. And the hostess
Speaker 1: and hosts take note that your guests might not feel comfortable taking off their shoes, and it is a floor, and floors can be cleaned
Speaker 2: on, and sometimes lawyers can be clean. Sometimes you take a
Speaker 1: hit and you know, if you've got ah, particular rug or carpet that you treasure, maybe you don't plan to be entertaining in that room. When people are showing up, you figure out a way to make accommodations. That's part of being a good host, a swell.
Speaker 2: So we're gonna I'm just gonna take a minute and expand this beyond the shoe removal question and add in that it's just like if you've got China that you really, really love. If you're so terrified that it's gonna get ruined or broken, or that you know the person maybe you hired to cater, your party is going toe, scrub it the wrong way or something, then you need to not use it, because if it's going to cause that much angst for you, it's not something that you then want to be putting on to your guests or or people who are gonna be helping you out with the service in your home. We hope that answers your question.
Speaker 1: Our next question comes from Monica via Twitter. She asks.
Speaker 2: How should a
Speaker 1: lady hold her hands when standing in photos of Kate Middleton? She always has hers in front.
Speaker 2: Yeah, I'm gonna venture a guess here that if the Duchess of Cambridge is doing it, it's probably the correct thing.
Speaker 2: According to English etiquette norms for royalty. You have to remember that she's, you know, she's she's in line for the throne. She is someone who is, you know, photographed all the time. She has to uphold proper standards all the time, so She's a great person toe look, too. But I also feel like because she is royalty and the majority is of us in the world are not. She's also someone who that's probably the highest standards, so use it, emulate it. But don't feel you have Teoh. Fold your hands exactly like the Duchess of Cambridge does. I feel like you know you could in most photographs. Or if you're standing around at a cocktail party, it's perfectly fine to not stand with your hands folded, you know, I think so, too. Yeah, we talked about all time. Think
Speaker 1: about the Queen of England for your most formal dining standard, but
Speaker 2: you don't eat
Speaker 1: like that all the time,
Speaker 2: right? And it can look a little
Speaker 1: stilted, I think. Always have your hands clasped in front of you, and you definitely want to be comfortable and at ease because that's gonna make other people comfortable. And that's the heart of good etiquette.
Speaker 1: Sometimes when we talk about body language and our business seminars, we talk about being careful about closing off to the world. Really. Crossing your arms or legs when you're standing can feel defensive. Even a nice open posture, standing up straight looking people in the eye being available on open. Those are all good things to think about that I sort of a fun one that Kennedy President Kennedy used to say. If you put your hands in your pockets, leave the thumbs out that way. It doesn't look like your stuffing, your hands and talking fighting. But you project more power that way somehow, so little things to think about. But I say Be comfortable, be it ease and that's gonna put the people around You. It he's
Speaker 2: there you go, Monica. I hope that helps and thank you for posting that to Twitter. I love getting questions
Speaker 1: via Twitter,
Speaker 1: she says. You're not as rude as you used to be. Weighed like to give a big thanks to everyone who sent in questions for this week's show. We really appreciate it. If you have a question for a future, so show you could submit it toe awesome etiquette at Emily post dot com. You can also send them via Facebook or Twitter. Just use the hashtag awesome etiquette so we know that you want it on the show.
Speaker 2: So every now and again on the show we like toe. Look at the history of a phrase and where it came from and obviously a phrase Dan and I hear a lot is Mind your P's and Q's things. Question came
Speaker 1: up in a dinner party not long ago. Someone asked, Does anyone know where the term, mind your P's and Q's came from? We were, you know, sitting around with Semetic it people. And
Speaker 1: there was some question about it, and and this is, ah, phrase with a few different possible origins. And the one that I'm most familiar with is that it comes from typesetting that once upon a time when you were setting the type in ah, printing press, the peas and the queues were easy to confuse with each other, particularly cause you add a picture. The thing that you were looking at backwards
Speaker 1: because the way it prints it comes out as the reverse image and minding your P's and Q's was a reminder where the mistake of getting it wrong could be very costly. It was a reminder to those doing typesetting that was important to pay attention to their P's and Q's. Some people think it comes from please and thank you's So you're remembering your P's and Q's, and it sort of means mind your manners. Generally, that's what the mind your P's and Q's is all about. So there's a common barroom myth that it comes from your pints and courts that it was, ah, signal toe those that were doing serving on the picturing an Olde English tavern, where you could be served a pint or a court, and it was important to keep an accurate tally of whether someone had been served one size drink or another. So you reminding your P's and Q's keeping an accurate tally of your serving? Um, I think that the most likely the one that sounds like it makes the most sense to me is from the typesetting, and that was the one that I pulled out of my hat at that particular dinner. But I've definitely heard the others. And generally the minding your PS and Q's is about minding your manners. Theo Social Courtesy does a dozen
Speaker 2: each week. We like to end our show with an example of good etiquette, and today's story comes from John Pool of the Napa Valley Register, who wrote about his Halloween etiquette faux pas,
Speaker 1: John writes on Halloween, I had to cover handing out candy while my wife was away from the house for 20 minutes. She usually dispenses the rewards to trick or treaters. We have a young Burmese mountain dog, Jackie, who was fascinated with this ritual, where the front door suddenly becomes a constant stage of unusual gullies and princesses. When the doorbell rang, she would bark. I didn't want to scare the Children who could see her looming through our glass front door. So I interpose myself between her and the Children quickly and dispense the rewards into their bags, keeping her obey. Two young men were at the door, probably in their early teens, one with his head in the bell jar appearing to be carried by a larger figure with a head missing at the neck. I was so focused on trying to negotiate the dispensation while keeping the Doggett Bay that I fear I was too mechanical in my greeting. After dispensing the candy, the young man inquired. But
Speaker 2: don't you see I have my head
Speaker 1: in this jar. He was rightly very proud of his clever costume and seemed wanting for a genuine acknowledgement. I said, Oh, yes, And be very careful going down the stairs. I don't want you to fall.
Speaker 1: I was haunted for the rest of the evening. I had failed to give the young man his due recognition for his clever costume on reflection for the young man and most other trick or treaters. It wasn't about the candy, it was about being appreciated and recognized, and I was remiss to that unknown young man. I now write an apology for neglecting my manners. You did indeed have a very clever costume. In fact, it was the best of all for the scores of Children that visited our home. I'm sorry I wasn't more appreciative of your efforts. You deserved it. And I hope you were not discouraged by my bureaucratic response.
Speaker 1: Next year, if I'm conscripted to door duty, I'll try to be more appreciative of each and every costume. John Poole, Napa
Speaker 1: Thank you so much, John. I really love your apology. I love the way you're really keeping the focus on people and the interaction between people. That's really the heart of any good holiday. And I also like how, as part of your apology you're thinking about what you're gonna do next year to do it a little bit better. It really rings true and gives it a very genuine feel. So thanks so much for offering that that little reflection on the whole holiday that can often seem frivolous,
Speaker 1: effective a
Speaker 2: little collection.
Speaker 2: That's our show for today. Thank you so much for listening.
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Speaker 2: and I'm at Lizzie a Post,
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Speaker 1: Wagner.
Speaker 1: Awesome Etiquette is produced in collaboration with Vermont Public Radio.
Speaker 1: Awesome etiquette is part of the Infinite Guest Network, which has all kinds of podcast for you to listen to. With Thanksgiving coming up quickly, it's probably good to put some quality food podcasts into your regular rotation. Try big appetites with Patty Hynix and Sally Swift
Speaker 2: also check out the splendid table, which has a ton of recipes and suggestions for your upcoming holiday food needs more info at infinite guests dot org's.