Episode 29 - The Line Cutter
Speaker 1: maybe it's just that you don't know how to use social courtesy, that's old fashioned
Speaker 1: host and hostess. They know that courtesy means showing respect, thinking of the other person, Real friendliness. Welcome to another episode of awesome etiquette. Just barely our podcast comes to you from the studios of Vermont Public radio and is a part of the infinite guest network from american public media.
Speaker 1: I'm dan post Senning
Speaker 2: and I'm lizzie post from the Emily Post Institute. And by just barely dan means we just barely are able to record this episode this week,
Speaker 1: we're squeaking it in
Speaker 2: our poor producer Nina, we're giving her a very little editing time but
Speaker 2: dan actually just literally walked off a flight from where were you coming?
Speaker 1: Started off in ST Louis but I couldn't get home yesterday as planned so I ended up routed through Detroit and about 24 hours later. Here we
Speaker 2: are, we are with lots of coffee.
Speaker 2: Anyway today we thought we would start off talking about a question a lot of you are writing in about. So um we won't actually include it in our our run of questions but everyone has questions about how to correct other people in public and usually they're talking about strangers.
Speaker 2: Occasionally people are writing in about a friend or acquaintance at like a dinner party or something like that. But
Speaker 2: it's it's advice we have talked about before on the show but we thought we'd give it a little more attention today, We've
Speaker 1: touched on it. This this question
Speaker 2: we've straight up answered the question. But I feel like every circumstance is different
Speaker 1: and it's definitely worth revisiting? Because it's such a big part of answering etiquette questions and that's of course what this show is all about.
Speaker 2: So some things that people have written in about um
Speaker 2: bad parking jobs, that's the one that I'm always like especially at our our offices, there's there's a lot of other offices within our building and
Speaker 2: it can it can get tough
Speaker 1: and I'll tell you the example that I've got on my mind very fresh right now, because I've been teaching the business etiquette seminar material
Speaker 1: is what you do in the workplace when you have a coworker that you're working with, who's doing something that you find annoying or that you see that is bothering other people. Talking
Speaker 2: about little stuff here, Not not the big stuff that really has to go to Hr not the big stuff where you would would have to get a manager from an establishment to step in. It's
Speaker 1: one of the particularly tricky things about rude behavior. It's not so egregious that someone is necessarily going to come make a point of stopping you
Speaker 1: Sure. That's what makes it so tricky. It's that subtle gray area territory.
Speaker 2: Alright, confession time. Have you ever, have you ever kind of stepped outside? Our usual answer is don't engage and just kind of, you know,
Speaker 2: find a different way, but I want to know, have you ever can you think of a time off the top of your head where you stepped outside and you've you've spoken up and said
Speaker 1: something. Absolutely yeah, give
Speaker 2: it to me, Give it to me.
Speaker 1: Usually it's some sort of micro infraction like you'll be standing in line and someone will slide in front of you and in front of me I'll take I'll take responsibility and I'm sorry I've been waiting here for quite a while.
Speaker 2: I love hearing one day and I wish you could see the expression on his face. His eyes get really big. Like that's where the severity comes in. But I do the same thing and it's
Speaker 1: important. Sometimes it feels like standing up for yourself. Sometimes it feels like standing up for the people around. You know, we've all been waiting here for a little while and how that can sometimes sound.
Speaker 2: And it's more so just pointing it out. Like for me when I do do something exactly like the situation you just said, because I've done that one too.
Speaker 2: I try really hard in that moment to as much as possible give the other person that I'm correcting the benefit of the doubt that they completely missed the 15 people standing in that line because they're so in their own world. But I don't let that sarcasm and that that joking has come out instead. It's like
Speaker 2: excuse me, I'm not sure if you realize there's there's this many people in line behind your or or the line actually starts back there? I I try to put on my most sweet self
Speaker 1: and and of course you're even straying into the better and better territory as we think about it more. But what I'm
Speaker 2: just trying to show you up, that's all
Speaker 1: you're good at the scripts. No,
Speaker 2: but I also don't always have the gumption to stand up for myself the way you do, and I want our listeners to take a cue from you on this
Speaker 1: and and this is what I'm noticing about both of our responses is that you're not telling the other person what to do, you know what you're doing is bringing their awareness to the other people in the situation, how they're affected and impacted. That person might very well say
Speaker 1: I'm in the biggest story of my life, I'm going to ignore that and I'm gonna proceed most often. They're not going to, most people don't want to be perceived as rude. Most people don't want to treat other people badly. The vast majority of rude behavior is unintentional, people just lacking the awareness or the thought or the care for what the people around them are feeling or experiencing.
Speaker 2: So in general, whether it's standing in a line or it's the parking thing or it's I I don't even know they're they're not coming to mind right now, but
Speaker 2: it really is up to you whether you're going to cross into that territory and we do always say safety first, remember so much of playing the safety first card also is is doing as much as you can to make it safe for yourself. And that's why I go to the sickly sweet response because if there's any
Speaker 2: judgment or any
Speaker 1: conflict that starts to have conflict
Speaker 2: or or what is the at a loss for the word right now. But it's it's where you're really kind of, your standing up for yourself. But it's almost in that indignant kind of way. It's
Speaker 1: like if
Speaker 2: you let that attitude, that negative attitude come out at all about it, you give them that hook to bite on. Its
Speaker 1: true inspires resistance. It
Speaker 2: does, it inspires resistance because their defense is going to go up because all of a sudden the stranger is pointing out something about their behavior. So it's why I say go to that sickly sweet response, that incredibly gentle response first.
Speaker 2: And if it escalates, then you can just walk away completely.
Speaker 1: And maybe not even sickly sweet because that maybe starts to to be insincere, but just
Speaker 1: a sweetness that can't be second guessed.
Speaker 2: One other
Speaker 1: thing I'd love to say before we leave this discussion entirely is it's it's an old expression, it's something my mother used to say to me and I think a lot of people's mothers have said to them that whenever you point a finger at someone else, you've got three fingers pointing back at you and there are a lot of situations in life where you really don't have standing to address someone else's behavior or it's simply not worth it. The potential for conflict is greater than the advantages or rewards that are there to be reaped and really discretion is the better part of valor or it's just more appropriate not to say something. Um,
Speaker 1: in those moments I like to remind myself that it's me sometimes. Also the example I give when I'm teaching is when I'm driving to work in the morning
Speaker 2: and then you get your little grumpy
Speaker 1: and go a little
Speaker 2: fast, maybe cut someone off. You didn't realize it.
Speaker 1: Here we are. It's Vermont, the person in front of you is going slow. Don't they know it's eight in the morning, I've got to get to work
Speaker 2: other
Speaker 1: days, they're stacking up behind you,
Speaker 1: don't they know this is Vermont, it's a beautiful day. What's everyone in such a hurry for? We are all the rude person at some point in our life and when we find ourselves sitting there really judging someone else. Often times I think it's a healthier mental space to get into to take that moment as an opportunity for a little self reflection.
Speaker 2: That's a great point to end on and with that, let's get to some of your other questions,
Speaker 1: you're right, there's so much to learn how to do, Sure there's a lot to learn, but it's worth it. And learning is easy. One way is by watching up on every episode of awesome etiquette. We take your questions on how to behave. Let's get started.
Speaker 2: I really loved this question. I thought it was a great
Speaker 1: question. So
Speaker 2: here it is,
Speaker 2: Dear lizzie and Daniel. My husband and I both grew up in families which placed a high priority on higher education. We have two Children and each has had a college savings account since birth.
Speaker 2: We were very diligent about contributing to each account over the years and as a result, each of our Children was able to choose a college without regard to price when the time came.
Speaker 2: Although we are thankful for the many blessings in our lives, it was not always easy to add to the accounts each year and often required personal and family sacrifices.
Speaker 2: Both of our Children looked for the college with the best fit for them and both ended up at private institutions which are admittedly known for their high price tags. My problem is this most of the other parents in our various social circles have different views
Speaker 2: and are in different situations in terms of higher education and how to pay for it.
Speaker 2: We are definitely in the minority in terms of our philosophy and our strategy since college talk is prominent among parents of our age group. I am frequently faced with some awkward conversational situations. Here are the most common number one, a parent asks me for advice on how to conquer the miasma of financial aid.
Speaker 2: We never had to deal with this.
Speaker 2: Number two, a parent wants me to commiserate about the high cost of college these days and how it's impossible to afford.
Speaker 2: Number three, a parent finding out where my Children attend school tells me that letting them choose such expensive colleges was a big mistake.
Speaker 2: You can get just as good an education at a state school. I don't know how to respond to any of these conversational black holes. It's hard to be honest without sounding snooty or getting into a financial discussion, which I find to personal. Also, in the case of number three, I feel offended by the implication that our philosophy, which continues to be very important to us, is flawed.
Speaker 2: Can you send me some gracious one liners to use before I change the subject sincerely JB
Speaker 2: What do you think dan
Speaker 1: JB. First of all, I just want to congratulate you on raising two kids and getting them up to college age and out the door,
Speaker 1: Always an accomplishment. And congratulations to your kids for getting into schools that they're going to be happy at. I think that's really important as far as the one liners will tease that one out a little bit because I have with me at the mic today, lizzie Post the master of scripts and good responses um,
Speaker 1: but we're going to talk in the post script today about tears in conversation and in a way to think about the structure for conversation and what's appropriate to talk about in different situations. And this question definitely is going to lead us into that post script really well. Because here you've got people asking about really personal things or talking to you about very personal things, your family and your finances and
Speaker 1: um, I think that you're in, you're in safe territory feeling like it's not always appropriate the way people are approaching you or these discussions at the same time.
Speaker 2: It's such a common
Speaker 1: common thing.
Speaker 2: Kids are in college and all the parents around, everyone's going through it. So they're in the mix
Speaker 1: and it's a big deal. It's a big deal at this time of life.
Speaker 2: How do you think she should answer? Like the first one? Yeah.
Speaker 1: Let's start to break it down. So when a parent asks you for advice on on what to do about financial aid,
Speaker 1: honesty is a good policy. You know, we we we haven't had to wrestle with that. I really sympathize. I hear it's a difficult thing to deal with.
Speaker 2: Oh, I like that. Just simply saying, I hear that's really tough to deal with
Speaker 1: sympathize, Let them know that they've been heard tell them that you don't particularly know, but no need to get into the reasons or details. Why
Speaker 2: could you say something like um
Speaker 2: Gosh, you know, I just didn't I don't have any good solutions for that one,
Speaker 2: right? Because you're not admitting that you didn't experience it and you're also not admitting that you have any advice whatsoever,
Speaker 1: but you show some sympathy, you show some empathy for their situation. Would
Speaker 2: you also think that maybe having someone um who you could go to like, oh did this, did the guidance counselor offer you any suggestions? You know, I know here in Vermont we have Zach as an option for financial aid assistance, so
Speaker 2: maybe getting familiar with some of the places that are places to turn to so that you have that in your back pocket to say,
Speaker 2: you know, I hear people are working with this company and it's been helpful.
Speaker 1: Works for me, might even refer him to another parent. That sounds like a lot of people talk to you about that
Speaker 2: to jane about that.
Speaker 1: Seriously wrestling with this right now And I bet she's got some good advice,
Speaker 2: so passing off being sympathetic
Speaker 2: and just simply saying, you know, like wow, I've I've heard that's difficult, maybe try
Speaker 2: this
Speaker 1: or even just asking them how it's going to just
Speaker 2: let them talk about. Well that's that's my trick. I always just ask more questions that makes them talk more
Speaker 1: good conversational tactics
Speaker 2: and then
Speaker 2: excuse yourself to the restroom or go get to something at the buffet or oh I see Janet, I really need to go ask her a question, would you? Excuse me for a moment,
Speaker 1: Exit
Speaker 2: number two, what do you think that they want to commiserate about how it's impossible to afford, They just start having that, like it's almost like they're venting to
Speaker 1: you. I hear that this is one where I think it's probably possible to commiserate a little bit just because you've done the savings doesn't mean that you're not going to be spending that same large chunk of cash.
Speaker 2: I think it's a place where you can absolutely say they'd be like, oh my gosh, I know the savings for it for us. It was it was tough at times making those choices.
Speaker 1: Absolutely. And and remains tough. There's all kinds of difficult choices to make, depending on how much you want to share about that you can or you cannot share a lot of your personal decision making, but you
Speaker 1: you can definitely tell them that you understand and and commiserate just a little bit, you can always take the conversation into a more general place. Also,
Speaker 1: that's
Speaker 2: a great idea.
Speaker 1: On a national level, there's a discussion going on about the cost of college tuition, the amount of student loan debt and the burden that that's placing on a whole generation of students and and whether that's an appropriate amount of debt for this economy to sustain and, and again, you might start to drift into political and financial discussions that you might not want to get involved in, but that's another place you might take that conversation.
Speaker 2: Alright, so number three is by far the hardest because the parent is actually making a judgment and that's one that it doesn't matter
Speaker 2: if it's about how you choose to raise your kids, where you choose to send them to school, what lifestyle you choose to live with your spouse.
Speaker 2: Just anytime someone places a judgment like that and it really bothers me that people actually even say this to you, you can get just as good an education at a state school
Speaker 1: from Burlington Vermont, I'll tell you that you can spend almost as much on a state school depending on where you're from and what was
Speaker 2: the highest institution. Yeah. It was the highest tuition of any state school in the country.
Speaker 2: It's like I'm saying.
Speaker 1: Yeah. And I know that some state schools for their out of state tuition can just be astronomical,
Speaker 2: absurdly astronomical. Yeah.
Speaker 1: Um Different different ways to handle this one. It's tricky. I think sometimes when when you're feeling offended,
Speaker 1: the best tactic is really to back away. It's not necessarily to respond in kind. That's always the test of good manners and good graces how you deal with someone who's not showing you the same courtesy and respect that you'd like to be shown or that you feel like you're showing them.
Speaker 2: So in other words you shouldn't say something like no you can't but good luck to jimmy. No, we can't say
Speaker 1: That. I will tell you the other thing that I start to think about here is you know, a parent can really help someone make a choice, but about the age of 18, they might choose to go to any school they want at that stage, you're giving them some advice and and if you're supporting them financially, that advice should matter. Um, but but a lot of people at age 18 or making choices on their own and might choose to to take out loans and go to a school that's more expensive because that's where they want to go.
Speaker 2: And I think it's also you can you can always be honest and just simply say, you know, this is this is the school that fits Sarah the best and we wanted to support her in that
Speaker 2: and just simply let it rest on the fact that you guys were able to let your kids make this choice and this was the choice they made and you're really proud of them for it.
Speaker 2: You could even say something like yeah, and we'd be just as proud as she was at at a state school too. But we're really proud that she made the choice that was best for her.
Speaker 1: And we're really happy. She found a place where she fits in. You can get the education that she wants, whatever whatever it is,
Speaker 2: whatever it is. I think just owning the fact that you're proud of the decision that your child made
Speaker 2: and that you know, you were happy to be able to support her in it and and that she feels good about that fit.
Speaker 2: I think that's, that's the answer for me. I like it, I like it.
Speaker 1: I want to wish you the best And also thank you for that. That nice soft serve for our post script
Speaker 2: today. Good luck!
Speaker 1: Our next question begins, Hi lizzie and Daniel. I am just recently engaged and I'm starting the planning process, Congratulations!
Speaker 2: I
Speaker 1: have been very fortunate to be invited to many weddings and be in several bridal parties for our wedding. We decided not to have a bridal party because I don't want any of my friends to feel left out.
Speaker 1: If I had to choose a couple of girls, I could,
Speaker 1: but would feel bad if I left the others out. Do you think it would be odd if I did not have a bridal party? Please share with me your
Speaker 2: thoughts.
Speaker 1: Thanks heather
Speaker 2: heather, I am totally on your side. I personally don't think I would if I'm lucky enough to get married one day, I don't think I would want a bridal party and dan will sit across from me and laugh because I know it's a really hard thing to decide
Speaker 1: to do, but
Speaker 2: when one of the very first weddings I went, two of my peers
Speaker 2: was one of my best friends Emily and she didn't have a bridal party and she had all her gal pals from college and all her gal pals from high school there and it was just the two of them and it was like this light bulb went off in my head and I was like
Speaker 2: oh my gosh, that makes so much sense because let's face it, a wedding is just about those two people and I love the idea of having friends and family support, but I personally think it's really awesome to to try to do something a little bit different
Speaker 2: and I don't think you have to explain it to anyone other than this was the choice that we made and it just, it made it easier for us
Speaker 2: and that's it.
Speaker 1: I like it lizzie is our wedding book author. That's a plus answer. A more general answer that I found myself giving a lot when I answer some wedding etiquette. Vice questions is that the trend these days is towards personalization and really if if that's what you want to do, there's absolutely nothing if you want to observe the more traditional structure and form, that's your choice and you're welcome to do so. But if you want to do something that's more personal for you, that's entirely appropriate.
Speaker 2: Best of luck with the wedding heather.
Speaker 2: This question came in via the infinite guest facebook page, remember that you can post your questions to the infinite guest facebook page just use the hashtag awesome etiquette so that they know that you want
Speaker 1: your question
Speaker 2: on our show almost mangled. That alright, this question comes from kelly,
Speaker 2: if someone regularly gives you clothes that aren't your style, should you just say thank you grin and barrett or is there a way you can politely tell them that the clothes are just not something you care for. I love being the youngest I dealt with stuff like this because hand me downs, you get all the time.
Speaker 2: The thing I don't know is whether or not she means
Speaker 2: give you clothes like new clothes or clothes not new clothes.
Speaker 1: Is it a hand me down situation
Speaker 2: both ways close
Speaker 1: hard to look a gift horse in the mouth. Thanks so much. This really isn't my style. No, you take the sweater sometimes even wear it when grandma comes over,
Speaker 2: I would say you're more generous than I am. You always, you always thank someone for the thought, thank someone for the gift. Um and then it's up to you what you decide to do with it after that and um you know, we've all had that happen. You know someone gets you a jacket or a sweater like dan said that's just really not your style
Speaker 2: and you know
Speaker 2: my bet you can, you can sell it, you can donate it, you can hang onto it as a spare. I have a whole drawer full of sweatshirts and sweaters for people that come over in the winter time if they need, they're a little chilly, put something
Speaker 1: around the house, sweaters. Yeah,
Speaker 2: you got it. Um But I I look at it as once you've received it, it's really up to you what you do with it. So
Speaker 1: receive it with some grace. Thank them for the thought. I love that. You can always thank someone for the thought behind the gift.
Speaker 2: Absolutely. And you can also, you know, I'm not sure kelly how old you are or what your family structure is like. But um if this is like an aunt, you know, if the aunt ever asks, you know your mom for gift suggestion, she can always vera say mom mom, if you ever get the opportunity to tell you know, who's he, what's it that? Sorry? I started thinking
Speaker 1: about my aunt's
Speaker 2: names and I didn't want to drop one in and I'm like sarah carroll, Betsy, I can't use any of those names. Um Janet, you can always tell aunt Janet, you know
Speaker 2: um that I would love jewelry or that I would love a book or a gift certificate to amazon or something like that. Never
Speaker 1: a better excuse to grow a relationship, but not in the moment when the gift is being exchanged, you do it at a different time and you know have them over for
Speaker 2: dinner and just
Speaker 1: working into the conversation, whatever,
Speaker 2: working into come over for dinner so that I can slowly but surely after four glasses of wine, get you to buy me better gifts. Just kidding.
Speaker 1: Yes, I know
Speaker 2: you're so not kidding with me
Speaker 1: and I'm reminded of situation growing up and it was an annual christmas present from an aunt and over a couple of years we were able to give some feedback, not when the gift was being exchanged.
Speaker 1: And to the point where now it's a, it's a tradition that we get the same thing from this on every year. We look forward to it and we love it and it took a couple of years to get it right. But that was a situation where was repeating it was happening again. It was worth doing that work away from the gift itself in that same aunt uncle cousin gift exchange. There was an episode when we were all much younger and there was an absolute tantrum around a gift that was given the
Speaker 1: was not the gift someone wanted. They and it's difficult. Often a rite of passage in childhood. The first hand from the first getting the thing that you don't want. Your brother sister sibling gets the other thing and parents deal with it. And it's, it's my example that I go to in my mind of that it's a fundamental etiquette skill to learn how to receive gifts. Well,
Speaker 1: we'll leave it there. I won't tell stories that'll be too revealing
Speaker 2: really. I would. My mom one year got me all books. I was like 11 years old for my birthday and she was sworn she'll never buy me another book again because literally sat there at the table and by the end of the night we were like, great, I've got a library like 11,
Speaker 1: you know,
Speaker 2: and she was very sweet actually wound up loving the books, she would read them to me when I was sick, that sort of thing. It was great. But it was kind of, it's now this like a joke, but like I don't get books um if these gifts are not not like gift gifts, if they are just someone giving you clothes for instance, I have a sister who's got some really impeccable clothing taste and I'm very fortunate that she always comes to me usually first
Speaker 2: to whenever she's cleaning out her closet and I've really inherited some great stuff over the years because of it.
Speaker 2: That being said, I've had friends who've tried to give me stuff that maybe isn't exactly my taste, it's not what I want. Um You don't have to be someone else's dumping ground. And I've learned two things. One I've learned that if um I see an opportunity I take it and so
Speaker 2: heck man, it's tax season, I do not mind at all if I have the time and I have the energy to be taking in stuff from other people and then donating it and getting the tax, write off myself. Hey, if they're not gonna take it, if they're not going to do it if they don't mind that this is what I'm gonna do with it, then I go for it. Um If not then I'll say, listen, you know, really not interested, just cleaned out my closet, not looking for more stuff, but thank you so much.
Speaker 1: I love it.
Speaker 2: Simple and sweet kelly. We hope that that helps and um, good, good luck with these unwanted yet generous items.
Speaker 1: Our next question begins, Dear lizzie and dan. I appreciated your recent podcast segment regarding social media shaming. Within the last month. I witnessed a particularly vicious example of such online bashing on my high school alumni facebook site. A younger alum posted a news article about a former teacher at the school.
Speaker 1: The comments that followed did not refer to the news item
Speaker 1: But comprised increasingly vitriolic and venomous personal attacks on the teacher. Both parents and former students contributed and I was appalled. This teacher who transferred to a different school 10 years ago had very high academic expectations and taught upper level math and science classes.
Speaker 1: Our son benefited greatly from his tutelage and we, as parents felt grateful for this teacher's interest and dedication.
Speaker 1: I did not add any comment as I did not want to open myself for my son to the group's attention, but I wonder what one can or should do when faced with such nastiness. Is it appropriate to write a comment, disagreeing with their opinions or to simply say stop this right now
Speaker 1: or do we just leave it alone and hope it dies of its own accord. Somehow. The latter seems cowardly and somehow wrong. What do you advise?
Speaker 2: Ah, that's a great question.
Speaker 1: And, and, and I love this taking the larger,
Speaker 1: um, topic that we were talking about. We were talking about social media shaming on essentially a global scale and, and really bringing it into a small community. I think it really shows the scalability of a lot of the concepts that we talked
Speaker 2: about.
Speaker 1: Um, and I hadn't heard about it in this kind of a small space, but
Speaker 1: but once I read your example, I started thinking about examples in my small hometown, also among a group of facebook friends where there's definitely negative talk that starts happening. What
Speaker 2: do you? But I love the question that she poses at the end. It's some,
Speaker 2: it seems wrong to just ignore it. Yet if you stand up for it, you're
Speaker 1: opening your fire. Yeah, you're opening
Speaker 2: yourself up as a new target. And, and there's always the, you know, we, we often say take the high ground of, of, you know, voice your opinion, but say, I'm not going to contribute to this. I feel like it's wrong and unfair or something like that.
Speaker 2: And even taking that kind of moral high ground, it really ticks off all the people who haven't been taking it. And it's not that that's a bad thing. I mean, they're doing a bad thing. They're doing something that isn't, isn't in good taste, But
Speaker 2: I mean, how how do you handle it?
Speaker 1: I had a couple of thoughts,
Speaker 2: yeah, what would you suggest you do?
Speaker 1: As I was reading the question before I read the second to last sentence about how this might feel cowardly to ignore it. The first thought I had was you can always send a personal direct message to the teacher just to let them know that there are people out there that
Speaker 1: that no them remember them fondly and and support them.
Speaker 2: Oh, so just say it like that. I see
Speaker 1: and and they may or may not be aware of
Speaker 2: it in other words don't reference the ugliness that's going on on the facebook page. Just send
Speaker 2: a note to the person about how grateful you were for what they did for your son,
Speaker 1: yep. I mean that that that alone kind of like
Speaker 2: a random act of kindness spurred by a really horrible
Speaker 1: act and if they're aware that this is going on, that could be a saving grace for that person and the kind of thing that really just change changes your perspective on a really bad day. I think that having a discussion with your child who um had a good experience with that teacher. I think it's also important just to let them know that you've seen this going on and that you thought that their experience with that teacher is validating them and having a different opinion because it can get easy to get sucked in to that kind of negative thinking. Um, and it can get easy to participate in in that kind of a,
Speaker 1: a mob mentality. Um,
Speaker 1: sometimes though it's important to stand up and to say something and I think that you've got a good sense of balance here in this equation, I think that you're aware that you both open yourself up to attack. If you decide to stand up for this person, you open your child up to attack in in some small way.
Speaker 1: Um and you also provide a certain amount of fuel for the fire, although
Speaker 1: if you see this starting to grow and fester and turn into something and start to draw in people that are on the periphery and you think you might influence um the likelihood that this continues to grow or not, you might not be able to address the problem itself, Maybe it is appropriate to say something and it could be as simple as um
Speaker 1: I had a very different experience with this teacher in my time at the school, that's what just might start to provide a little balance in the discussion and you don't need to question the experience that other people are having. Um but you could start to provide a perspective, that's just a slightly different perspective.
Speaker 2: So option number, what are we up to three or
Speaker 1: four,
Speaker 2: four option number next. Um, I personally think that if this is getting bad enough, this is, it sounds like this is on an alumni page, correct?
Speaker 2: This is something that should be being monitored by the school,
Speaker 2: that, that this teacher was better and I would alert the school, I would alert whoever is responsible for managing this page that they have a really negative situation going on here. That is unfair to the parties involved. You can even explain how you don't feel comfortable voicing your own,
Speaker 2: you know, um,
Speaker 2: positive interaction with this teacher, but that you feel like because you did have such a positive interaction with this teacher that, that what is being said, albeit maybe these people's experiences also feels weighted on the side of negativity and, and being unfair and that you would hope that the school would step in to defend or to shut the conversation down.
Speaker 1: I think that is the a plus answer. I think talking to the moderator of the page is another really strong option to have on the table
Speaker 1: and, and again, I really do think that you've got a nice balance here. You're, you're, you're thinking about all the different factors that come into place and if you don't feel um sincere in yourself, if you don't feel like your personal integrity is, um, it's being well represented by you being silent. I think those are a couple of options that, that
Speaker 1: might be good ones to pursue
Speaker 2: and best of luck to you, we really appreciate that you're out there standing up for,
Speaker 1: for
Speaker 2: what you think is right and for the honesty of what you experienced the situation to be. And best of luck, we hope that the conversation dies down quickly.
Speaker 2: Finally, today we have a quick follow up to last week's post script segment on subway etiquette. Our next listener writes, I live in new york city and take the subway regularly. Typical subway etiquette includes moving to the center of the car and or taking your backpack off when the subway is full and here it connects
Speaker 1: to our opener.
Speaker 2: Is it rude to ask someone to do this to make room if done so in a polite manner? Or does this fall into the category of not commenting on someone's etiquette? Thanks.
Speaker 2: I vote the latter. I think this falls into the cat. I don't think you tell other people on the subway what they could do. I mean if someone had a really big suitcase or something and there was clearly a spot they could move it to, to make it easier for someone to sit down. You might say, hey, would you mind just moving your suitcase over? So I could take a seat. Um, and it's, it's for you. It's not so that this gentleman could take a seat. It's, you know, that's, I don't know, that's about as far as I would go with it.
Speaker 1: I was thinking about that. Also in terms of our earlier advice, right? You might bring their attention. Could you be careful your backpack keeps hitting me or maybe even that's where you start to,
Speaker 1: I'm just thinking what you might say, that would let someone know that the backpack was in the way without telling them to take it off or do something different with it.
Speaker 2: Silence usually means don't go
Speaker 1: for it. It's so true. It's so true. Um, if you could do, if you've got there, i, if there's a way that you can sort of give them a little look or something, just be like, oh, your pack
Speaker 2: too much. Damn squirm as he says and I'm like, you're not coming up with a confident way to say this,
Speaker 1: it's true. Then again,
Speaker 2: it might be my judgment on you that's making that happen. But no, no, okay. No,
Speaker 1: I think you're right here and, and some sort of little Siskel and Ebert moment where we're looking for independent perspective, but I think we're going
Speaker 2: to do something, but we
Speaker 1: end up in the same territory.
Speaker 2: Yeah, I think that's
Speaker 1: the
Speaker 2: best bet is, and no, if that backpack is right in your face or if it's bumping into you, then you have caused to say something. But
Speaker 2: if it's just for the benefit of the entire car, nope, don't say it.
Speaker 2: Unfortunately
Speaker 1: you
Speaker 2: hear that
Speaker 1: she says you're not as rude as you used to be.
Speaker 2: Thanks to everyone for sending in your questions and remember we love updates. If we answered your question on the show or if you have a comment about one of our questions, please feel free to send it in. You can also submit your question to awesome etiquette at the Emily Post dot com or send it in via facebook or twitter. Just remember to use the hashtag awesome etiquette
Speaker 2: so that we know you want your question on our show.
Speaker 2: Welcome to our post script segment for the week. And I love this segment because dan actually came up with this and I thought it was such a clever way of identifying um sort of what we what dan calls the three tiers of conversation. Take it away.
Speaker 1: This idea grew out of the research for the social media book and we were thinking about ways to give people advice. Hold on,
Speaker 2: wait wait wait plug the book
Speaker 1: manners in a digital world Living Well Online by Daniel Post's endings. The Emily Post Institute offering on digital manners and how to behave with mobile devices.
Speaker 2: All of that wasn't the title but that's plugging the book.
Speaker 2: No it is. It's a great book. It does focus solely on digital manners. So we definitely recommend it. But talk about. So so this is on the three tiers of conversation and that there's some conversation. Tell me talk about it.
Speaker 1: Absolutely. So whether the conversation is happening online or in person, these are three tiers that you can use help think about what's appropriate to talk about in different situations and maybe even what are the best ways to approach certain topics?
Speaker 1: So tier one is what I like to think of as safe territory and it's safe topics for small talk conversation. You can talk about these things anytime, anywhere with just about anybody. So what are those topics? I'm sure you're thinking of them in your head right now. Already make that little list. And here we go. Uh sports, the weather, local celebrities, pop culture,
Speaker 2: entertainment,
Speaker 1: what you had for breakfast that morning, things that are very immediate, things that are immediate to the environment. You're in the microphone that's sitting in front of your face the lunch you're about to have.
Speaker 2: I'm going to interject and just say that we are not guaranteeing that everyone will be interested in these conversations but they are safe topics of conversation are
Speaker 1: safe topics of conversation and
Speaker 1: if you want to be interesting, be interested. This is also advice I give when I'm teaching conversation skills and concepts that's cultivated curiosity about the world that you live in. Have a passion for the arts are a favorite sports team or just some curiosity about the host that you're visiting because it's going to make you a more interesting person. Tier two of a conversation.
Speaker 1: It's potentially risky or controversial topics and I think everybody knows what those are
Speaker 1: and t t not table talk, religion, politics dating or your love life.
Speaker 1: So those are risky areas.
Speaker 2: I always thought that there was a 4th one in there. Are you saving the 4th one for somewhere else?
Speaker 1: Give me the 4th
Speaker 2: money. I
Speaker 1: am saving it.
Speaker 1: So why is it tier two? Well one thing is that
Speaker 2: Why? Yeah. Why isn't money in Tier two or what are the others tier to
Speaker 1: Tier? Tier two, I'm going to say are difficult conversations because people have very different opinions about these topics and comfort levels
Speaker 2: about these topics, right,
Speaker 1: yep. And they care passionately about them. So you're going to meet people of goodwill,
Speaker 1: good intent, intelligent people that have very different opinions about these topics than you do. That's a given, that's by definition. Um they might be better or worse at talking about them. They might, they
Speaker 2: could think of a few people in that category.
Speaker 1: Yes, But so you want to be careful about how you approach these topics. If we never talked about them, we'd be in a lot of trouble, Civil society would collapse. You have to be able to talk about these things
Speaker 2: and they're interesting,
Speaker 1: but you want to be aware that you're in tier two. So what are some, some tips and pieces of advice about being in tier two conversation,
Speaker 2: you know who you're talking with,
Speaker 1: know who you're talking with, don't stake out territory that's too strident or extreme until you have a sense of who your audience,
Speaker 2: would this be like, where you just, you, you dip your toe in the water, get a feel for, for if people are warm to this conversation or maybe even,
Speaker 2: I have noticed, let's just say you're at a party or something like that and you've had sort of the cocktail hour, you've heard someone drop a couple of political comments, you realize you're probably in pretty safe territory to talk with them either because they're on opposing sides, so you know how to come at it that way or because they're on the same side, so you want to engage and, and talk with someone similar. So that's like that's what we mean by safe, like
Speaker 1: it's okay and and
Speaker 2: other other things
Speaker 1: you can do as you start to, to wade into that territory, just be prepared to back back out that if you're not willing to see the last word on a particular topic and in this tier, then don't dive into being that it's almost impossible to argue with someone who won't argue back, oh, that's your opinion on that. Well, and then, and then you're done, you're out except their perspective in their opinion and be ready to do
Speaker 2: that. You can also always admit when you've gone too far, you could always say, oh
Speaker 2: dan, it seems I've waited too far into this one with you, I think I'm going to have to back out for now.
Speaker 1: Absolutely. Your, your, your willingness to, to, to disengage if it becomes heated or argumentative or or if you start to feel that you might be giving someone some offense.
Speaker 2: Okay, so so
Speaker 1: You already gave us one part of Tier two.
Speaker 2: Yeah, so, you know, I give you one part of tier three. So yeah, talk to me about tier three. So Tier two, just to be clear that something
Speaker 2: you maybe wouldn't bring that up with business colleagues or business people right off the bat or strangers, but friends,
Speaker 2: new acquaintances, you might start dipping your toe into those waters and see if those are acceptable conversation. Said, I'm
Speaker 1: just gonna say just like put put your put your little alert on when you start talking about these things. If you're doing it online, that's a very public place. So you're gonna start talking politics or religion online,
Speaker 1: just be aware that not your that your entire audience isn't going to feel the same way that you feel about a particular topic or subject. Then. Little pneumonic for remembering it is f f family and finance and these are the things that are the most intimate that are the closest
Speaker 2: to you,
Speaker 1: the most personal and you just want to be careful with how you talk about these things because it gives an indication to the people that you're talking with about how you treat the most private things in life.
Speaker 1: So
Speaker 2: you protect them and you guard them a little bit
Speaker 1: that that it's that it's not some people their favorite thing to talk about
Speaker 2: is their kid's life. I've definitely made the mistake of talking about these things to openly, not
Speaker 1: necessarily because it's I think you've got good feelers, I think you've got a good sense for where people are for the most
Speaker 2: part
Speaker 1: too
Speaker 2: much with way too many people, I'm way too open.
Speaker 1: I love to talk about it. I don't really have kids, I'm just as an example, I love to talk about my kids, my favorite thing to talk about or I'm estranged from my parents, I haven't spoken with him in 20 years, you just don't know, you don't know the status of my family relationships and before you ask a probing question about that
Speaker 1: you really want to know that you're in safe, You wait for someone to open the door
Speaker 1: before you start to ask a probing question about someone's financial situation or someone's family.
Speaker 2: And the flip side of that is bringing it up, I will reference one of the most recent episodes of girls where character Hannah is you know, at her substitute teaching or teaching job
Speaker 2: and she starts talking about how she just found out a very detailed, intimate part of her father's life and her boss or the principal of the school goes, I don't need to know, nor do I want to know, and she's talking about how she's explaining this is why she was having a bad day and blew up at a student and he's going you don't get it boundaries,
Speaker 1: I
Speaker 2: don't want to know, I don't need to know. It shouldn't be something you talk with me about because
Speaker 2: it's f f
Speaker 2: it's it's such a
Speaker 1: perfect example and I just a little aside, I want to remind people, high schools are clearinghouses of information. There are spies in every home, in your community and they go to this place and they talk with each other and they know everything. Um, but no, absolutely, and that's, and that's a perfect example of the family relationship you don't and and teens who are thinking about what's appropriate to talk about online in public spaces, You don't want to talk about the fight your parents just had, or
Speaker 1: the, the difficult health issue that your sister is struggling with unless you're pretty comfortable that you know your audience, you know who you're talking to and that they are the appropriate audience for such personal information. Um finances the same way I just got a great deal on a house. I'd love to talk about it. I was just foreclosed on and I don't want to hear about the short sale house that you just nailed and you've never been so excited in your life as a future employer.
Speaker 1: I look at your social media profile. So you're talking about what you paid for a house. It gives me an indication about your discretion. Um,
Speaker 1: so family and finances the pneumonic, it's not that you never go there. In fact, sometimes it's someone's favorite thing to talk about, but just be aware that you're in very intimate, very personal territory and you want to be careful.
Speaker 2: This is, this is what you talk about with only the people you find most trusted and
Speaker 1: have you built that rapport and trust with. They've already opened the door.
Speaker 2: I love it. So Tier one
Speaker 1: small talk sports, the weather celebrities,
Speaker 2: Tier two,
Speaker 1: risky religion, politics, dating or your love
Speaker 2: life. Tier three
Speaker 1: Ff, Family and finance.
Speaker 2: Alright. We hope you nail your conversations from here on out. And that's it for our post script segment. Let's get to our salute.
Speaker 1: Social courtesy does pay, doesn't it? Thanks
Speaker 2: Each week we like to end our show on a positive note by saluting someone for their excellent etiquette.
Speaker 2: Uh, this week's salute comes from one of our listeners and it begins, Hello Dan. And Lizzie. I'm a big fan of your show and I'd like to submit an awesome etiquette salute. Recently started working at an organization with over 300 employees. My department is home to two colleagues who have made my first six months here successful. They're smart, helpful and kind
Speaker 2: there is one thing that they both do that I'm so appreciative of
Speaker 2: They give me some context or warning about things that a person new to the organization might not necessarily know. For instance, there is a big public facing project that occurs a few times a year. Our department doesn't participate, but at least 20% of the organization drops everything to work really hard, long hours on this project for about two weeks straight.
Speaker 2: Right before it began, I got an email from one of them stating, hey, you might not know this, but there are going to be tables of food and drinks set up around the office. These are only for the people working on the project, so don't take anything from the tables unless they offer it to you. A gentle heads up like that prevented me from unknowingly doing something rude and it meant that no other coworkers were put in the uncomfortable position of having to confront me.
Speaker 2: I really appreciated it and I'm lucky to have these two showing me the ropes
Speaker 2: regards Kathryn Nice,
Speaker 1: excellent salute. And to all those unsung heroes who help us out in our daily work. Many thanks.
Speaker 1: Well now wasn't that better? Look at the effect of a little politeness.
Speaker 2: That's
Speaker 1: our show for today as always, thank you for listening and spending some of your day with us. We hope you have a wonderful rest of your week.
Speaker 1: Don't forget there's no show without you. So send us your questions, your etiquette salutes and your suggestions to awesome etiquette Emily Post dot com if you like what you hear, don't be shy, Tweet it. Facebook post it and of course you can subscribe on ITunes and leave us a review on facebook where the Emily Post institute on twitter. I'm at Daniel underscore post
Speaker 2: and I'm at lizzie a post.
Speaker 1: Or you can visit our website Emily Post dot com. Our theme music was composed and performed by bob Wagner
Speaker 2: mm hmm.