Episode 3: Roommates and Cousins and Thank-Yous
In this episode of Awesome Etiquette
What’s wrong with the kids these days? Their roommates, usually. PLUS: cousins, thank-yous, knives, forks, hands, and the rise to prominence of one Emily Post.
Speaker 1: Maybe it's just that you don't know how to use social courtesy. That's old fashioned.
Speaker 1: Watch. How is he Post
Speaker 2: and their posts and actors host and hostess.
Speaker 2: They know that courtesy means showing respect, thinking of the other person. Really Friendliness. Welcome toe, Awesome etiquette, part of the infinite guest network. I'm Dan Post sending,
Speaker 1: and I'm Lizzie Post from the Emily Post Institute and we're so happy to have you with us today.
Speaker 2: Indeed, you know, I was I was recently doing some training, some new hire training, and it got me thinking about the interns that are gonna be waiting.
Speaker 1: Maybe not
Speaker 2: today when we get back into the office, but are usually sometimes at the office, even even right as I get there first thing in the morning. And there's such a breath of fresh air around the office, it's really quite remarkable the the fresh perspective that comes through the door when you have ah, current college student or someone who's who's currently at college joining your work, your workplace every day.
Speaker 1: It's one of the things that
Speaker 1: comes up very frequently in in Dan's, and my work is the idea that etiquette is lost and it is gone, and we live in this tragic time. There are no manners, and we're all just horrible people. Um, and and it's also one of those things that people always say, Oh, well, young people today, and it's always something negative that follows. And one of the things I love about having our interns in the office is that they are young people today, and they really are just wonderful and curious and excited. And what they are learning is that it's etiquette that can help change their relationships with the people around them. I mean, most of them. What they want event to me about is roommate etiquette that they're having all kinds of problems with their roommates and getting this whole living situation, um, figured out in a way that makes sense because they all seem to know what to dio. They know how they want to be treated. But when it doesn't happen, when those mistakes happen or, you know, you know someone didn't do the dishes or someone left something out or someone borrowed something without asking. What they don't know how to deal with is the confrontation of that problem that that the question comes, and how do I talk to somebody about this? And I love I love having our interns. They're, you know, each each semester because it's a new group with new problems, and it's kind of like it keeps us fresh well, and
Speaker 2: it brings up an interesting point, which is that there's a whole etiquette around what one should do the right thing to do in the right moment. And and oftentimes, the heart of good etiquette is, is how you figure out the right thing to do when the moments not right or the moments not perfect when it's not about the perfect introduction or the perfect wedding. But it's about a conflict with someone that you're close with, or a difficult situation that arises with a co worker. I'm example that comes to mind. Just the other day I was talking about our current interns, and she was having to reschedule, Um, she transition from one job to another, rescheduling with a baby sitting client that she had, and she'd been trying to decide how to best contact the person who said usually would have fired off a text. But, you know, I've been here for just a couple weeks now, and I said
Speaker 1: to myself, I should
Speaker 2: really call. And so she does. She calls and cancels. And the young mother who who she had to cancel with, got back in touch with her not too long later to reschedule her and was telling her how much he appreciated the phone call that that so many people just do that by text now. And that that she really had noticed that this young person had taken the time to pick up the phone and call her and recognized that that was a choice that the person made, that it was a little different than what was the usual routine. And just so that we don't think that it's all Emily Post of the Emily Post Institute I. I was recently at a new hire training, and I was talking with supervisors. These were people that are on boarding recent college graduates, and they were. They were talking about how, with senior level of their organization, there was some question about this training and whether it would land or not. It's a group that we've dealt with for a couple of years and
Speaker 2: what they what they decided was this audience was hungry for this information. It was absolutely true. So there were some of them younger and sort of easy to engage people that I've had the fortune to work with recently and again, Always it's it's that,
Speaker 2: um,
Speaker 2: I I take heart dealing with today's youth because they give me energy to keep doing what I dio.
Speaker 1: What I like is that they really do get it. They just don't always know they get it. And it's kind of like connecting when when you connect the two, the two thoughts that the problem they're having and that etiquette is within that problem, it's either the way to solve it or it's. It's a negative aspecto etiquette that's breaking down and showing them that there is the problem there. It's like this wonderful light bulb goes off, and all of a sudden they have access to something that that makes sense to them, and they
Speaker 2: are dealing with a world that's challenging, where they're making lots of choices and having some idea of the standards that have come from from way back when and some strategies and and and thoughts about human relationships that have worked for a long time can really help navigate that new territory.
Speaker 1: I was thinking just the other day about I have a roommate now and I actually haven't lived with anyone in, like, three years and navigating, kind of like listening to my own inner monologue as I'm living. You know, my roommate, she has a boyfriend, so she's not always around. There's definitely been a few weekends in a row of dishes being left for the whole weekend while she goes away and you know what I mean? And you start what I love is hearing how my inner dialogue at 31 sounds in my head about, you know, either being frustrated by it or just being like whatever. I'm sure I'll leave dishes when she goes. You know, it's like how how I handle it, even in my own brain, is so different now than it was when I was, you know, 18 19 living with my first roommates, and you'd be so frustrated, and I kind of love having that reminder of you do grow and you do learn, especially in your twenties. And it is actually a time when, as you're discovering this stuff you grab onto it rather than you know a lot of times as a teenager like Yeah, please, Thank you. Well, whatever, you know? Sure, sure, sure, it's important. Mom, I gotta go, you know, And but now at this, at this age of what you know in your twenties, I feel like people are really looking for answers. They're looking for solutions. It's one of the best things about working with this age group,
Speaker 1: and they definitely have questions. And speaking of, let's get to some of your questions today.
Speaker 1: Sure, you're right. It is so much a lot how to dio. Sure, there's a lot to learn, but it's worth it. And learning is easy. One way is by watching others
Speaker 1: on
Speaker 2: every episode of awesome etiquette. We take your questions on how to behave. Let's get started.
Speaker 1: Here is an interesting one. My cousins way of cutting back on her wedding guest list is toe Onley. Invite those cousins she has lived near to and feels she has had a current relationship with.
Speaker 1: The result is that some siblings are invited and others air not from several families.
Speaker 1: My parents and one of my two siblings will be there. There was no communication about it, either, until someone asked why they hadn't received their invitation. I have never heard of breaking up families like that other than severe family feuds, which this is not. Do you think this is acceptable? This is one of oh, man. People get so emotional about wedding invites, and a lot of people wanna have a very small wedding. Or they choose an expensive venue where they could only have a certain amount of people. It's really difficult to cut that guest list and are best advice is that you cut that guest list clearly. So if you don't invite cousins, you don't invite any cousins. If you don't invite Children, it's, you know, the age cut off is 14 14 and up can come 14 under stay home. That actually might might result in a break up of a family being invited to a wedding. But those were the rules. That's how it's done. You go for it, you stick to it. Um, I understand why she's chosen to invite people cousins that she was very close with or or sees daily versus not inviting cousins who, you know, you never see probably, but at the same time it's creating that rift. And I do think that even if she had decided to go with with what she did, she should have have have spread the word that this was a choice that they made. And she hopes people will be able to celebrate and support them anyway. Because now you've got the problem with people saying, Wait a second. How come I wasn't on the invite list? But Jim Iwas And that's not
Speaker 2: cool, So I e find this. I find both the question and the answer fascinating, because Cousin Lizzie just finished writing the latest edition of Our Wedding Etiquette book, and she's been very focused thinking a lot and correct me if I'm wrong about how you organized a good wedding. So this is a very real It's a question people face all the time. The budget. The budget line is a very real budget line for weddings, and people have to make really difficult decisions. But
Speaker 2: that answer is entirely from the perspective of the person who's
Speaker 2: putting the wedding together, and they should. They should do it that way when it's not done that way, we've often said we should have a book. That's good etiquette for guests on people invited. The wedding will come one day. I'm gonna freedom my answer from the perspective of the guest. And I'm gonna also give a classic answer that we give, which is that people do all make all kinds of choices with their guest lists. And it's almost impossible to know why, while I got drawn in a certain place and as hard as it can be, and it can be really difficult to be the bigger person and to say to yourself, You know, I understand how difficult these things are. I might not like the choices they made. I might not like the places they drew those lines, But I'm going to accept that this is a very important day for them, and they're the ones who are really investing in it and really thinking about it and try to give them the benefit of the doubt. Even if they've done something that
Speaker 2: might break some of the more traditional etiquette guidelines or the family bonds or the family bonds, it might feel very hurtful to not get invited. When your sibling got invited
Speaker 1: But you know what would
Speaker 2: be so hard?
Speaker 1: But there's a positives. I do it and let's your you don't have to send a gift. Even if you can't attend weddings, air the one party where if you're invited and you can't attend, you're obligated to send a gift. So if you wanted to look on the positive side, you just got off the hook for a wedding gift. There is that, but continue and and try not to let it
Speaker 2: ruin the relationship with your sibling, the person who was invited, or or hopefully even the cousin that invited them. That that ultimately being the bigger person being understanding of those very difficult realities can can be one of the ways that you rise above how you handle successes, pitfalls and traps. And there are pitfalls and traps in life, says as much about you is how you handle your success is. This might be one of those slights that your ability to ignore, um, is really important for family cohesion and
Speaker 2: good luck. I'm sorry about that one. That is a little difficult,
Speaker 1: and you ask if we think that this is acceptable and the answer is that it really? It totally depends on the situation in the family. And unfortunately, when it comes to weddings, there's always someone that has hurt that they're not invited. It just always happens that way. There's someone that wishes they had been on the list, and
Speaker 1: you know, I'm not a big fan of breaking up families. I say, You know, if you're going to invite all of your cousins, invite all of your cousins and you know what?
Speaker 2: Not all of them are going to show up,
Speaker 1: so you can rest assured. It's not like it's gonna be a command performance thing, but, um but is it acceptable? It's not the best practice, but it's also not
Speaker 1: horrible. How's that? Alright, this is that juicy gray area. E.
Speaker 1: Next question. I once
Speaker 2: received a card with a gift from my newborn, requesting that I not send a thank you note and use the time for my family. I found it very useful at such a busy time. I would like to send the same thing to a friend, but I'm not sure how it should be worded. This was one very. This one was very simple. In polite. Do you have any suggestions
Speaker 1: on how How did just simply say you don't owe me a thank you card?
Speaker 1: I would just like
Speaker 1: I don't know what I would dio. I mean, I've done it with friends. I've told friends you don't need thio, but it's always when they have sent a thank you card for something. That's when I'll use that and say, Oh, I got your card in the mail. Thank you so much. But please, I want you to know that Just shoot me a text to let me know that you got the gift. You never have to write a thank you know in the future. My godmother did that for me. I was, I think it was last year. I sent her a thank you note for Christmas gift, and she wrote back and said, Lizzie, don't you dare ever sent me a handwritten thank you note again. Emails air just fine. And that was, like, really great. But I think that's the way to do it is when someone sends the thank you card. Then call them and let them know they're off the hook for all future. Thank you. I love
Speaker 2: the heart and spirit of this question. It's It's someone who's thinking like a gracious host. They want to not impose, not be a burden. They want to give the gift, but they don't want it to create obligation in the other person. That could be burdensome. It is a great spirit, and I think a simple request, almost like you stated right here in the question is fine. No need to send a thank you know, I hope you enjoy spending that extra five minutes with your lovely newborn. Whatever.
Speaker 1: Just no need to say thank you. No need to get a simple, stupid you know,
Speaker 2: really, and it's it is a sweet thought. The only thing I would say is if they do send a thank you note. If even the mention of thank you know it inspires them and they have to then send a thank you know, because now they're thinking about it and you will encounter people who really feel that's probably about it. They have to do it. Don't be offended by that. Either. Accept it with some grace and say it's it's really important that we receive thanks with a spirit of generosity and grace. Also so if they do take the time to send it back to save yourself. Boy, I'm lucky to have such good friends. Such a
Speaker 1: nice Yeah, I agree.
Speaker 1: All right. The next question is, I've been trying to find the correct way in 2014 on how to get the last couple bites of food into my mouth that I can't seem to get with just my fork. I see people use their fingers, which I truly hope will never be acceptable. Can I use my knife to help slide the food onto my fork and then that last delicious morsel into my mouth? Of course you can. There is. I mean, that's what knives air for. You can totally use it. Thio kind of scrape and push and everything. I will even go so far as to say, having just rewatched this video the other day that Emily Post instructs that you can even break a piece of bread and use that piece of bread to help push some of that food onto your fork. And then don't pick the bread up with your fingers. Instead, finish the last bite of whatever it was that you pushed onto the fork, and then you can spare the bread with your fork and eat that. It will be all yummy and juicy and delicious every once
Speaker 2: in a while. It's just great to feel the table manners question.
Speaker 1: You know, classic. And this isn't
Speaker 2: a
Speaker 2: It's one of the most important social occasions in people's lives, so it definitely is. It's one, and it's one of those places where
Speaker 2: a lot of traditional eh tickets don't changes fast. Here is they do other places. When you talk about communication etiquette, it's changing rapidly. It changes all the time, whereas the manners around table service and which fork to use those
Speaker 1: those tend to stay the
Speaker 2: same. Something that sort of buried in this question a little bit is to me the question of whether your forks in your right or left hand
Speaker 1: here I'm if your forks
Speaker 2: in your left hand, you're eating Continental style, your knife in the right, and it's available to do the pushing, and I watch you sit here in the studio with your hands as you're doing it, and I'm saying to myself. But for many people who eat the American style, where after they cut their bite. They've transitioned their fork to their right hand. So now they're forks in their right hand. Their knife is laid down on the plate. And the question is, how do you get that last little morsel up with just four? Well, and you instantly went to the natural place of Oh, you got a piece of bread there. You could use the bread to hold it. No, you don't use your fingers. You might get away with a well placed piece of bread, but it does give us an opportunity to talk a little bit about Continental style dining, where your forks in your left hand and your knife is in your right hand or your dominant hand.
Speaker 1: That's how I It's how most people eat
Speaker 2: without even thinking about it a lot of the time. But then it's It's entirely appropriate in the States in particular, we even call it American style dining. After you cut that bite of food with to place the knife that's been in your right hand down transition, the fork from the left to the right, keep eating, and then you've got that last little bite. And what do you do with it. Maybe you can use the edge of the plate. There's something to push it against to scoop it up. But it's not that hard a question. You can always put your your fork back in your left hand. Pick up your knife, you're off to the races. Lizzie's laughing at me
Speaker 1: because technical and answer this question four times over. It's my favorite
Speaker 2: topic. I love the Continental in American style e
Speaker 2: Okay,
Speaker 2: we owe.
Speaker 2: We owe
Speaker 2: Thank you so much for sending in your questions this week. It really is the heart of the show.
Speaker 1: You can submit your question by email toe awesome etiquette at Emily post dot com.
Speaker 1: We love having a segment that talks about the history of etiquette or sometimes, how how etiquette has come to be. And one of the questions Dan and I get asked all the time is how is it that Emily became so popular with etiquette and kind of became synonymous with etiquette? How how did she get put into this place? And of course, I'll tell it another date, the story of how she actually was approached to write the books. But really, this story, the story of it has to do with where America was in 1922 when she did write her first book. What made it so popular and so well received was that there was two major things happening in the United States. Then the first was there were all all kinds of people were moving closer together into cities. Urbanization was happening, so people were simply interacting mawr with a greater number of people. And on top of that, you had, um, immigration. Sorry. I kept wanting to say inflation. That's not right. Immigration waves and waves of immigration. So all these different cultures coming together, they do think slightly differently. And it was really wonderful to have this modern practical voice. Emily's voice out there saying, You know, when you invite someone to your home, this is what you should expect as the guest. This is what you should expect as the host. It made it a commonality for all these people that were coming together and enjoying each other's company. I
Speaker 2: think that's a really well told story, Lizzie and way to keep all your eyes
Speaker 1: separate. Industrialization, immigration, urbanization. Oh, my God. It was industrialization. Yeah, just as that was happening.
Speaker 2: Urbanization drew people, agrarian communities.
Speaker 1: I swear. I know my history, folks. A common social
Speaker 2: code was absolutely the
Speaker 1: It was a necessity necessity that
Speaker 2: Emily was responding to and why her material was so well received. I'd like to talk in future episodes about the Democratic appeal. To her particular, I think that's what gave it legs moving forward. But but I think that's the heart of matter. It's really a curious thing to me that it was a time very similar to the time that we live in now, where technology people dealing with a really new environment and today it's a new communication environment. Then it was a new urban environment. But but it was so useful to have some basic standards, some rules to refer to people were trying to make good choices, and etiquette equipped them to make good choices. And and again, that's the way I like to really present our material today that things aren't hard and fast rules that ticket police aren't gonna come taking away if you don't send that, thank you know, but But having some idea of formal standards gives you an idea of how toe execute informality well and how to make good choices in an increasingly casual and complex world.
Speaker 1: And we really know that one of the reasons why Emily's etiquette stood out and why she sort of became the voice in the figure for in America was because she did come at it from a practical angle. Her first book, that 1922 book, got criticized in some way. I mean, you don't get me wrong It was really well received, but it was also criticized because people came back and said, Hey, I don't have a butler and a maid and a cook So how do I throw a dinner party? So Emily started throwing dinner parties without her staff so that she could figure out what to dio. How would she make her guests feel comfortable but still be a hostess and still be delightful and entertaining and make everyone feel welcome?
Speaker 2: And Emily was amazing. She could really turn a phrase. Some of her early characters had names like Like Your I a Heat From the Dickins tradition. She had the top Lofty is, for example,
Speaker 1: top lefties and Mrs Three in one.
Speaker 2: By later additions she had introduced this three and one is playing the role of the
Speaker 1: hostess cook and made all in one s. Of course, now we're all Mrs Three in one on and we could
Speaker 2: go on and on about Emily. Post all day is one of both Lizzie to my favorite topics to talk about. And we look forward to sharing Maura Maura about Emily as a person and personality in future shows.
Speaker 2: Mm hmm.
Speaker 2: Way like to finish our show with an etiquette salute where we acknowledge the good etiquette that we see in the world around us. And today I want to acknowledge the folks here Vermont Public Radio, where Lizzie and I get to record this podcast
Speaker 1: are sound engineers. Laughing
Speaker 2: right now with the heart of good etiquette is, um, in many ways, practicality. But it's also about putting people at ease. It's about making other people feel comfortable. And Lizzie and I couldn't feel more comfortable here. They've really made an effort to make us feel like we're at home, and we really dio and it's made bringing this podcast to you possible, and we just really wanna to conclude today's show with a netiquette salute to the folks of V P. R who do such a great job and make this place feel like a second home.
Speaker 1: Thank you so much,
Speaker 2: indeed. Thank you so much.
Speaker 2: It's not gonna
Speaker 1: get anywhere.
Speaker 1: Well, now, wasn't that better? Look at the effect of a little politeness.
Speaker 1: That's our show for today. Thank you so much for joining us. We truly hope that you've enjoyed the conversation that you've enjoyed your time with us. We would love for you to write into the show. Remember that we're taking questions. We read every question that comes in. We can always get all of them, but we absolutely love your support and your continued enthusiasm and interest. So right those questions into awesome etiquette at Emily post dot com You can
Speaker 2: find us on Facebook at the Emily Post Institute or on Twitter. I'm Daniel Underscore Post,
Speaker 1: and I am at Lizzie, a post.
Speaker 2: You can also learn more at the Emily Post website. Emily post dot com.
Speaker 1: This is awesome etiquette, part of the Infinite guest network from American Public Media.
Speaker 1: The Infinite
Speaker 2: Guest Network has all kinds of podcast for you to listen to, including the Splendid Table, dinner party download and wits. Find them all at infinite guest dot org's
Speaker 1: That sound good