Episode 477 - Not Too Scary
On today’s show, we take your questions on conversation poachers, large parties with no split checks, setting boundaries with family members, and waiting for machines at the gym. For Awesome Etiquette Community Members, our question is about riding in an Uber when the driver makes an illegal turn. Plus your most excellent feedback, etiquette salute, and a postscript on, "BOO!" Trick-or-Treat Etiquette!
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Episode 477 - Not Too Scary
Your Awesome Etiquette podcast episode for the week, bonus question, Monday joke and a timely etiquette extra on manners for All Hallows' Eve.
Appears in this episode
The Emily Post InstituteEpisode details1 commentTranscriptMaybe it's just that you don't know how to use social courtesy. Oh, that's old-fashioned. Watch how Lizzie Post and Dan Post Center act as host and hostess. They know that courtesy means showing respect, thinking of the other person, real friendliness. Hello! And welcome to Awesome Etiquette, where we explore modern etiquette through the lens of consideration, respect, and honesty. On today's show, we take your questions on conversation poachers, large parties with no split checks, setting boundaries with family members, and waiting for machines at the gym. For Awesome Etiquette community members, our question of the week is about riding in an Uber when the driver makes an illegal turn. Plus your most excellent feedback, etiquette salute, and a postscript on boo! Trick or treat etiquette. All that's coming up. Awesome Etiquette comes to you from the studios of our home offices in Vermont and is proud to be produced by The Emily Post Institute. I'm Lizzie Post. And I'm Dan Post-Senning. Hey Cuz! How's it going? It's going well. I got to spend the Sunday before my birthday watching the Taylor Swift-eras movie at the theater. And it was awesome for two reasons. One, there were only two other people in the theater aside from myself and Wendy. And that made it a lot easier to like Episode 477 Desperately, and I almost did it. Like, I have the confidence to do this. I almost asked the other two people if they wanted to please, you know, like, please feel free. I would love to if it won't bother you, but I also really understand if it would bother you, like, to have people singing and dancing. But it was so much fun just to be there and be there with a friend who is also another big Swifty. But when Wendy took off to the restroom for a minute, I looked behind and there was nobody else behind us. And for just a moment, I kind of stood up, did a little dancing, lips sank really hard, and sat back down. And I was like, I really hope they didn't notice. That was my version of the bad behavior of it. I think you are well within all the acceptable boundaries of human behavior. It was hard to contain it. I had like tears streaming down my face for the first two songs. I was like, get it together girl, get it together. But I've got to tell you, cuz there was one part that really of it that really absolutely tickled me pink. And it was because Taylor Swift during the song tolerate it sets a table. And I and there's there's language in the song that references setting a table. And so it made a lot of sense. But I just had this little like, like moment because it was table setting she also brought out like golf clubs with lights on them at one point and that was also you know i was like and golf anyway it was awesome it was a lot of fun i was really glad my friend could come with me and i i loved being in that near empty theater I am so not surprised to hear it. And I'm a little surprised about the setting the table connection, although not entirely because I similarly watched Taylor Swift in the box of a football game. Yes. And she was cleaning up after herself. She was gathering up cups and plates from heavy hors d'oeuvres or something that had gone on in a luxury box and it was so not performed. It was so just somebody cleaning up after themselves as they were leaving an area and It felt so normal and so appropriate that I couldn't help, like you, feeling a little bit connected to one of the biggest stars in the whole world. And I wouldn't say proud of her, because I'm not proud of her, but I was, I found myself saying, oh, like, this is probably why she is so well liked by so many people. There are some just very regular, normal, good things about her that make her very relatable. Very relatable. Anyway, that's what I've been up to and I'm glad you dove into another Taylor Swift moment with me. I really appreciate it. Well, I was thinking about you because I also saw the coverage of the discussion around behavior in movie theaters and was definitely thinking about you and wasn't imagining you wrestling with the same questions as immediately, although an almost empty theater kind of absolves you. I love having a movie theater to myself. There's something really special about it. But Lizzie Post, I was also thinking about you another time this week. And that was when I was reading the Thursday post that you wrote for our sub stack about getting ready to invite people for the holidays and thinking about how you do holiday inviting. Early, and I know mid-October isn't necessarily early, but for me, that's good and early. It means I've still got time, I'm still within all the windows. But as I was reading your Thursday post, and it was describing the early feeling out process that'll happen within families as you're trying to get a sense from each other for how you're thinking and what your plans might be, sort of a pre-planning information exchange. Call, yeah, yeah, yeah. That's very much going on in several channels out into several different sort of family pockets. And as I was reading your Thursday tip, I was sitting there thinking about Lizzie Post and the intro today and wanting to compliment you on some really good writing and some really timely writing. Well, thank you. Trying to, you know, I know that the holiday season can often feel Episode 477 Episode 477 Making sure that each year we're providing those tips on how to host great holiday parties, what to think about when it comes to gifting, how to take the pressure off of the season so that you can have less stress. We know stress leads to rudeness, which leads to more stress, which leads to more rudeness. It's a vicious cycle. And so the more that I think we can talk about the ways to celebrate really well with one another and how to Have those conversations that are going around your family right now. Um, I think, I think it's really great. And it's obviously a timely, you know, a timely thing to be talking about and remembering. Well, speaking of timely, and this is the Nick of time, we have a postscript today on Halloween manners. Let's get to some questions. Let's do it. Awesome Etiquette is here to answer your questions. You can email them to awesomeetiquette at emilypost.com. Leave us a voicemail or text at 802-858-KIND that's 802-858-5463 or you can reach us online. On Substack you can post a comment to our Monday podcast post. On Instagram we are at Emily Post Institute and on Facebook we are The Emily Post Institute. Just remember use the hashtag Awesome Etiquette with your post so that we know you want your question on the show. Our first question is titled Conversation Poaching Protocol. It's a long one, so stay with us for it. It's an interesting question. Hi, Lizzie and Daniel. Thanks so much for your awesome etiquette insights. Social life can be so confusing. I frequently find myself in social gatherings where I am part of a conversation, but am mostly listening. And another person apparently assumes I'm not really invested in the current conversation and begins a side conversation with me. The person beginning the side conversation has always been a woman, and I'm a woman, and this side talk only occurs if the original conversation includes men. It feels as if the women talking to me assume I'm not really interested in the conversation that includes men by virtue of my being a woman. Usually, the conversation I was originally following involves less overtly domestic-oriented topics such as politics or culture. And usually, the topic being introduced by the woman is on something more domestic or something related to relationships or health. I am quite interested in many domestic, relational, and health topics. But I don't get as many opportunities to have in-person discussions about broader topics such as politics, and being pulled away to discuss domestic things during these cherished opportunities feels frustrating. I also feel as though beginning a private conversation within the circle of another conversation where someone's already addressing the group is somewhat rude. Sometimes the side talk is delivered in a lowered voice or a whisper, presumably in order not to disrupt the larger conversation already in progress. This makes me especially uncomfortable as I feel like the speaker and others in the group may think that the whisperer and I are engaging in gossip about members of that group. It feels rude, even though I think the side talker is trying to avoid rudely impacting the group. I don't know how to handle these interruptions or invitations, which I am sure are well-meaning, without seeming prickly or causing the side-talker to feel shamed. I imagine some version of, I want to chat, but I'm really interested in this conversation right now. Let's find each other in a little bit. Might serve my purpose. I have people-pleasing tendencies, so I am not used to confronting people about problematic behaviors. But I want to stop shortchanging myself and allow well-meaning others to remove me from conversations I want to be a part of. So I'm motivated to find a way to disengage from the situation. I also wonder about other approaches to the wish to side talk. If I should ever find myself wanting to engage someone who's already part of an ongoing conversation, wouldn't the polite thing to do be to wait until that conversation has a definite lull or breaks up and then begin speaking to the person I'm hoping to talk with? Or is this side talk thing normal? Maybe especially at the perceived fringes of a conversation? Thanks so much, Torn Between Two Talkers. Dan that's a that's a cute sign off but this is a tough situation. This is a tough situation and there's there's a lot going on here and I think there are lots of different points to enter it but I I'll start off by just acknowledging the the opening questions are really tough one for me to answer. I'm not as sure about the gender dynamics here. I could definitely hazard a guess but I've had less personal experience with the gendered version of this. I'm curious, Lizzie, before we talk about whispering and side talk and maybe body language scripts for entering or exiting conversation, did you have any off-the-top thoughts about the gender dynamic at play? I do. I think we can assume and I actually I had a male friend of mine talk about this in relation to sports recently, where he was just so frustrated that other guys try so hard to talk about sports with him and he really isn't into sports. He's just not that guy and he finds he has a lot more women friends. And I laugh because I love football. So I'm always like, I'm always like, Oh, man, we can't talk football. I just tease him about it. But It's good nature, don't worry. But this happens to all of us, I think, in some ways. Maybe not everybody, but I think this is something that it's not unfamiliar to me. It's not uncommon. For me, I really appreciated the part of this question where Torn Between Two Talkers says, They're trying to pull me away to talk about domestic or relationship or health topics. And I really like talking about those things. I'm just not interested in talking about them now. I like the conversation I'm hearing. And I think that it can be very easy for us to assume that people of the same gender who are presenting as the same gender as us are going to be interested in some of the same topics. Dan, I think if we just remove the idea of gender from it, there's a lot of times where people try to talk to us about things that we are not interested in talking about with this person at that moment. You and I have it happen all the time. Every now and again, we check in. I'm like, um... It does not sound like you're very interested in this. Yeah, no, I actually am distracted by this other thing. I should go. Okay, fine. You know, like there are just times where it's like that. And so this isn't unfamiliar. This isn't out of the norm. But I think we want to try to find a way to show that we actually are invested in the conversation that's happening. So I'm thinking nonverbal cues like Making sure my face and my body language, my attention is directed at the conversation that's happening, even if I'm not participating. That my facial expressions are reacting to the things that are being said. Not crazy big reactions, but you know, I'm smiling and laughing as Dan is saying something or I'm, you know, getting more thoughtful and serious in my expression as he's expressing a more serious point or the conversation turns to a more serious topic. Episode 477 interrupting the flow if you're genuinely enjoying listening to the people who are talking. And sometimes that is really fun when you have a discussion going on between people and you don't need to participate, but you're loving it for the entertainment, for the knowledge you're gaining, for the excitement of hearing the people who are talking talk in exchange. It's great, but I think you got to show that you're invested in that to help deflect some of these side conversations that are coming your way. Dan, I went on for way too long. I mean... Not at all. I asked you to and you very quickly did a very good thing, which is you got me out of thinking about it as a specifically gendered question in a lot of ways. Like, I appreciate that the particular construct in this situation, there's a lot of gendered assumptions that are going on in terms of The Emily Post Etiquette that peripheral space on a conversation where we might or might not be participating. And you're keying on the practical advice that I was thinking was going to be the place that I would land on this question also, which is that listening is a skill in terms of actually taking in the information, digesting it, understanding it, hearing it. But there's also a skill to listening that's about showing other people that you're listening, what we call active listening. There's a component that's internal where you're taking it in but then there's also how you show people that that's happening and I liked your description of Maybe more animated or more agreement as that happens, but also maybe it's a more reflective thought as the conversation gets more reflective or as the conversation gets more serious. Maybe that it's a more serious look that starts to be reflected on your face. I was also thinking about the importance of eye contact. That it's really hard for someone to initiate conversation with you without establishing some eye contact. And there's this very natural thing that can happen Anywhere but on the periphery of a conversation where someone sort of approaches they end up next to you you make eye contact to acknowledge them their presence or their arrival and there might be a little follow-up that happens a little hi or hello or and the degree to which you you make and sustain that eye contact versus Establishing that, doing the effective social greeting and acknowledgement with the eyes, but then bringing your attention back to the original speaker or the conversation that you're following or wanting to stay engaged with is, to me, the cues that I would be looking for as someone entering a space, whether someone was interested in a little sort of cross-talk in the back, or maybe even peeling off and starting a new conversation, or whether they're really engaged and aren't going to be receptive to that. So Dan, That's how we can use our attention and our good listening skills to participate without jumping all the way in if we're desiring the listening position of a conversation. And I feel like you've even gotten at some of the physical aspects of creating, I don't want to say boundaries or barriers, but making it hard for someone to pull your attention away and to focus on that. And it's not like you're ignoring someone going, You know what I mean? But it is that you keep your attention focused where you want it to be. And hopefully, people won't look for that opportunity to bring you away from it. Now, let's say someone's broken through all of it. And they've managed to get you. And they ask you about, you know, like, you know, hey, did you see that thing this weekend? That's, you know, very female oriented, maybe. or like they said, domestically oriented. And this is a place in etiquette where I, I worry that if it's like if you allow the irritation to show that doesn't feel polite, right? And yet you kind of want to convey that you weren't expecting this interruption. And yet feigning some kind of Oh, I'm sorry, I was paying attention. What was that? You know what I mean? Feels Disingenuous. It feels disingenuous. What is something that we might be able to do? Because I'm thinking we need to acknowledge the person who's caught our attention. But then do you think it's okay to pivot to excusing yourself back to the other conversation? Because that's kind of what Torn Between Two Talkers has suggested with this sample script. How do you feel about kind of this tactic? I think the key to any sample script in a situation like this is speaking from your own perspective. That if you're not trying to manage what the other person's doing, you're going to be in much, much safer territory. So you're not telling them, now's not the best time to talk to me, or something to that effect. But you're saying, I'm occupied at the moment would be the The obvious and different version or different way to say the same thing. And now we'll put together a little script around it. But speaking from your own perspective, exactly is the larger parameter that we're trying to operate. And so, oh, I'd love to hear more about it. Or oh, I'd love to tell you. Let me hear the end of this maybe we can catch up in a minute or something like that so that it's it's you acknowledge the entree to the conversation and if there's something positive about it something that you are interested in would be interested in engaging I think that is is worth doing I also think that probably You're in pretty good shape etiquette-wise doing this sort of thing. If someone has started talking to you, I'm going to assume you're enough on the periphery of the conversation that even speaking isn't going to be viewed as rude by the people around you, that there's room for you to kind of say something on the side to this person. And we haven't talked yet about how sustaining that for a long period of time can start to be distracting the ways that you manage those side conversations, but You can acknowledge the entree, say that's something you want to follow up with, but do with your words what we were talking about doing with your physical attention and your body, but redirect it and let someone know where it is at the moment. I'm curious to hear the end of this, or I was hoping to jump in here in a minute. Could we catch up later? And then the third part becomes that. That offer to circle back or pick it up again when you're not as engaged as you are at the moment and I think your cue Lizzie Post to not let that irritation creep in is so so so important in this particular moment and the thought that I like to hold in my head to help with that irritation is that habits are really hard to change. And if there is something like a gender dynamic that you sense going on in it, those are oftentimes very ingrained habits. Stuff people aren't even aware of. Exactly. And even if you are aware, it might take a while to change the habit. You might be doing something that feels very natural to you, and there could even be a Episode 477 or I'm getting a little bored, I'm interested in building some camaraderie with someone around something that we might actually care about and that all of those good thoughts could be behind this and probably are and really responding to that is what you're looking for. Yeah. The other tactic I was thinking of, Dan, was that you could, in some ways, try to invite them into that conversation. And the likelihood is they probably are doing this little side convo because they aren't interested in this bigger conversation that's going on. And they would rather talk about, you know, whatever topic it is that they've asked you about. But I do think you could acknowledge what they've said. So say, Oh, I don't know, I haven't caught that episode, or I haven't tried that yet. And then I wonder if there's a way to pivot towards sort of inviting them into the conversation. Like, have you heard like, so and so talk about this before? Like, I'm really interested to get to get both of your attention back there. I don't know if that would be too forced. But to me, it would feel like a tactic to kind of like, Bring them into what I'm interested in and really trying to keep my focus on. I think there's room for that situationally. I think there are definitely times where you can say, no, I'm doing this. Come do it with me. I think that's oftentimes in classroom situations. It's another image that's coming up in my mind around this a lot where you're trying to manage your attention to the front of the room. There's something you want to catch. That's a great thought. But there's maybe not a huge expectation that you're going to be responding directly to it. And there are certain courtesies around not being distracting for other people that are wanting to pay attention and how you manage. I think there's some parallels even if they aren't one-to-one. Dan, I'm so glad that Torn Between Two Talkers wrote in with this question. I feel like we could talk about it for a lot longer. I want to stop here for today. And torn between two talkers, we really hope that our suggestions help the next time this situation crops up. You're bothering us. Beat it. In almost every group, you find him, the troublemaker who hurts himself and the others around him. What makes a person like Mel act the way he does? Is the group ever at fault? How would you cope with someone like Mel in your group? Could you help him? What do you think? Our next question is a short question about a large party predicament. Hi Lizzie and Dan, I have a party etiquette question. I have booked a private karaoke room for my upcoming birthday. The venue allows up to 20 people in the room where you can order food and drinks, but will not do separate checks for each person. Just split it on up to 6 cards. Because of this, would it be appropriate to write that info on the invitation and say, please come prepared with Venmo or cash if you plan to order food? Or is that rude? Should I be expected to cover the food since I am hosting? Thanks, Kirsten. Kirsten, thanks so much for the question. Dan, I really love this question because I think more and more people are hosting their own birthday parties. And when you're doing it at home, it's very clear that you are going to take care of things. But when this moves into a public space, a rented space, And I think it's even harder when it's an environment where some people might choose to do food and some people might not. It does start to, in my mind, really fall under the category of organizing a gathering for this birthday rather than hosting it. But at the same time, I think that's sometimes a little hard for some people to understand. So I want to kind of give two answers right off the bat here. One is, you can totally host your own birthday party and if it falls within your finances to cover all the food and the rental of the karaoke room. Go for it. Don't don't feel bad. Like that's not someone else taking care of you on your birthday. You're getting what you want to do on your birthday and you're getting everyone together. Often I hear people who are hosting their own parties and providing everything for them. They say they're really proud of the party and happy people showed up and had a good time and that that has been like a gift in and of itself. Like that's the thing they wanted to do and they got to do it. And so it's like they feel great about it. And so So it's a good thing. This recently happened with my friend Jenny. She really wanted a cheeseburger on her birthday and she doesn't eat them very often, had been mostly vegetarian for a long time. And she decided to treat her husband and me to cheeseburgers. And we kept saying, you know, we really can cover, like, we can figure this out, like, we can take care of you on your birthday. She said, no, I want to do it. I really want to do it. And then the caveat was we had to go pick them up. It was takeout. So, but it was a real, like, she was delighted to do it. So if you fall into that category of person, Kirsten, go for it. Just host the whole shebang, invite people, let them come know that everything's taken care of, like, great. If you're not in a position to do that, and a lot of people aren't, and that shouldn't mean they don't get a birthday celebration, you know, and People aren't stepping up because you got to step up for yourself, right? And so I feel like in this instance, you really want to lean into the organizing language. Hey, guys, was trying to organize something for my birthday. Um, you know, I've rented a room here. There are food and drink options if you want to engage them. This is where I start to really want to go to the host guest dance and say RSVP moment rather than on the invitation. Like I'm having a hard time with language that would go on an invitation that would convey this. because it's organizing, it's not an invitation. Help me cause I'm starting to etiquette myself into a corner. No, I heard you say, and I'm trying to think of the language I would put on the invitation. In my mind, like etiquette, red flag came up. It's not an invitation if you're organizing. And then the second half of the sentence was, of course, if you're organizing, it's not an invitation. So would you call people to let them know maybe something that's not like a physical, like a texted or a physical thing, maybe? I think so, and I'm wondering a little bit here what the method of communication is going to be for putting this event together. If it's a series of conversations, I think it's relatively easy to explain what's been explained here as part of that conversation. I'm thinking about this for my birthday. I was planning to rent the room and the way they take… Let people do their own thing for drinks and food, right? And let people do their own thing for food and drinks. In terms of a practical question, I was wondering if you could do some sort of room rental and baseline food and beverage? I was thinking about the parallel with the kids birthday parties that I'm going to all the time these days and in the winter in Vermont they're often at places spare time monkey see monkey do where you rent the space and there's also food options yeah and oftentimes the format is okay we've got the space and we've got this level of food option for everybody and anything beyond that is is up to you is free for you to choose to engage but you as the host have covered the basic Pizza and juice and a cake dessert or something. And maybe for this gathering, it's one round of drinks and a dessert. I don't know. I'm not a great event planner, but that would be my sort of target for combo host organizer. Yeah, like I'm gonna have a cake and a round of drinks. Anything else, you know, feel free to engage individually. I don't know if it's the kind of thing where the bring cash because we can only do up to six cards. I think that's a great piece of language right there. Or just say like, after having talked to management, bringing cash sounds like it'll be the easiest option for folks looking to purchase, you know, something for themselves. I think that those would be the kind of things but more and more because I'm thinking these are phone conversations. Like, I like the idea of using the method of a phone conversation to convey this because you can answer folks questions in the moment. You know, you can say, so that's the whole deal. Like, you know, would love to see you there if you can come. Great. This is organizing, so they don't really have to RSVP, I don't think. And if you're renting the space, I think it's just more making sure you don't go over capacity than it is, you know, like how people are actually showing up for it because you're taking care of that space. And I was thinking that overcapacity potentiality is definitely the good excuse slash reason for an organizer to do a little bit more follow up maybe than you would if it really was a no harm no foul didn't matter how many people came or there was more flexibility around the top number. But I am right there with you because on the do a little baseline food in a baseline space. And even though we're calling you an organizer, Kirsten, that covers your very small basics of a little bit of refreshment, a little thought into the place that you're gathering. Like those are some bare minimum entertaining etiquette points right there. And I think that those those covered people will understand things beyond. I loved your baseline food idea, Dan. I am so delighted that I had a good entertaining idea. I also, Lizzie Post... Oh, you have lots of them! I have one serious digression I have to do before we leave this question, which is that after you had your encounter with Bill Murray and my brother had his encounter with Bill Murray, I got back into the Bill Murray library and rediscovered the movie Lost in Translation and have circled it several times. I've watched it, I've read reviews of it and reactions of it and the karaoke scene in that movie is just so delightful and so awesome. Kirsten, I hope you have an amazing birthday. I hope that the organizing goes well, that it is a smash success, and that everybody has a great time. How do you go about being thoughtful? What do you do? Every time I try, I only make things worse. Is there some particular method of being thoughtful that works every time? Our next question is titled Family Frustration. Dear Awesome Etiquette, my stepfather and I have a strained relationship to say the least. Neither of us really like each other, but he does not make an effort at all to speak to me. I'm fine with that. But my mother insists that I continue to reach out periodically to keep the peace. I realize that doing so makes her life easier, but it's really not good for my mental health. How do I go about setting a boundary for myself while still recognizing her needs? Thanks, Rose. Rose, thank you for the question. This is a potentially very difficult situation and I hope that we're able to offer some solutions that will help you navigate that. My biggest picture thought is that you're going to get to make some choices here about how you want to handle this, that family is important. It's really important, but so is balancing respect for yourself with how you accommodate family and because you're the one who understands how that relationship with your father impacts your sense of self-respect and the challenge that that interaction presents for your mental health you really get to make choices accordingly and I've got some ideas about some different lines that you might sort of keep in your mind as ways to think about this and organize your thoughts but that's my big picture thought is that really is it's it's it's not an easy choice and you're balancing external needs that are that are genuine and good with internal needs that are also genuine and good. Dan, you mentioned that this would be choices that Rose would would need to make as she balances the need for self and the requests from others. And I feel like this is because the topic is family. And it seems to be a good relationship with mom, but just not a great relationship with stepdad. And that mom-kid relationship is so important for so many people that it's one where I say really give yourself time. If you are going to make big decisions, like I'm not going to do this, and I know it's going to have a negative effect, give yourself time to really think about that, think it through, sit with it for a bit before acting on it. Because I do think that the relationship is strong and important. And it would be very classic Emily Post from 1922 all the way to now to say stop and think first. and take great care with the really important relationships in our lives. Doesn't mean that you might not still set a boundary, doesn't mean that you might not still choose to move in a direction where you don't have to outwardly engage your stepfather so much, but it's just take time because that relationship is so important. Lizzie Post, tell me if you think this is helpful. I was really developing a little two-tier Episode 477 Rose's stepfather as another type of communication. Not knowing what the details are of the relationship, my broadest advice would be to lean into the holidays and special family events as opportunities to fulfill your mother's wishes. Episode 477 Episode 477 Episode 477 And we talk on the show all the time about leaning into holiday traditions. In fact, it was a sort of a sub-theme of our intro today as a way to hit your marks and just establish connection with people in ways that are expected and anticipated. And just because it's expected and happens again each year doesn't mean that it's not important. It doesn't mean that those don't become foundational experiences for a relationship. Oh, I remember that person from three years ago, from two years ago, from one year ago. And there is some real genuine benefit to that, that builds up over time. So that's both the holidays that you might share, but also special birthdays or anniversaries, or if there were certain traditions within your family. Those are all great opportunities to look for where you could maybe have some kind of engagement with your stepfather that didn't challenge your personal integrity or respect, but also supported that social cohesion in the family. For the one-on-one communications, the just reach out and give them a call on your own, I think you have a lot more latitude in terms of the way you're thinking and choosing to interact. And for that choice, I would apply a very different standard of expectation on myself. I would be asking questions of myself more about what the benefit is for me in this relationship with this person. What are the costs for me being in direct relationship with this person in this way? and the potential benefits would still be there but maybe wouldn't be as connected to that social environment and would allow me a little more autonomy to say I'm gonna prioritize my own mental health and well-being here if that's appropriate if that's what I want to do. So does that mean not reaching out and making those calls that mom has requested you make? Maybe. Yeah. Yeah. That if you're able to make enough of a connection through those other channels and events, you might really be able to fulfill that request of your mother, that you invest in that relationship and maintain it in a way that makes her life easier and creates a sense of family that is significant for everyone and works for everyone. You know, Dan, this is tough stuff. This is this is really tough stuff. And the balancing act of it is really tough. But one of the things about those holidays and those traditional moments, and it might even be, and I could see it breaking down a little bit more in this situation, but it might even be a dinner together has enough formality around it, that it creates the structure for good behavior. As you have said so many times, we go to parties knowing that we're going to dress decently, put a smile on our face, talk to people, not have big blow ups, not be mean or crass or crude. We're going to talk. Yeah, exactly. We are going to have exchanges. And that might provide that structure and those expectations, those social etiquette expectations, might provide an enough of a support system so that it doesn't feel as stressful to engage with the stepfather in those moments and and mom can see them happen and other as you said other people can see them happen and and you get that credit and you get that relationship building, but you've got the support of, we both have to be on our best behavior, you know what I mean? That might help even, it might even make him pay attention to Rose or respond to Rose in more concrete ways that it sounds like Rose isn't getting right now. No, I think that's such an important part of the way those traditional moments or events can work and can support Rose, thank you so much for the question. It's not an easy situation, but we do really like the way that you're thinking about it and we hope that our answer helps and that your family is able to find some accord moving forward. But once the young adults understand that their parents are people, people with habits, moods, and a right to live their own life, and when the parents realize how important it is for the young adults to manage their own affairs, then they can deal with each other as mutually respecting individuals, and their relationships will be healthier and happier. Our next question is about a fitness faux pas. Hiya. My question is about gym etiquette. As I go to a very crowded fitness center, the machines and weight racks I want to use are often occupied. But if I just wait and circle back around, someone else often sneaks in right after the other person. Is it weird to approach someone using a machine and ask them how many sets they have left, or to let you know when they're done because you'd like to use it? Or would that sound like I'm rushing them to finish? Great question. I am actually considering going back to a gym environment. I've been working out at home like the last four or five years. So I'm interested in this one. But my instinct and my instinct would be to actually just hang around the machine till the person gets off. So no one gets in like, I'd be doing like, you know, a couple of light free weights with like, you know, just a little hand weights. while I wait or something like that but I think that's just because I'm that person who's anxious and so I'm like no no and like I need that machine next I want that machine next I'm gonna be here and wait in line and I'm not gonna stare at the person while I do it but like I'm gonna be really close by. Is that bad gym etiquette? Am I that person? You might be. And I also don't think there's anything completely ridiculous about what you've described. I feel like I need so much more information to be able to answer this question. Well, I don't think there is a universal answer. I can imagine some people lifting weights mid set or between multiple sets. I'm displaying my complete lack of knowledge about this topic, but Where it was so intense and so involved that it would really be impolite to walk up and ask them when they're going to be done, when they're going to be finished, how much time they have left. It's not a stretch for my mind to imagine a situation where you should not go ask that question. It's clearly the wrong time. Like I can't breathe or focus right now so asking me a question is pointless. I am putting all of my effort towards something right now in a different direction. I do not and there might even be real safety concerns depending on what someone's doing how they're doing it. I would think so. And I would assume that they're responsible for their own safety and can manage it but but big picture So I can imagine nos, I can just as easily imagine yeses to that question. Somebody who's working out in a way, approaching things in a way, are clearly in repose between sets, are maybe aware, maybe aren't aware that there's anywhere from one to several people waiting to use a machine, depending on how crowded, how much pressure there is in the system for the person who's using something to continue to use it consistently or move through or offer it to someone else. I'm wondering if there's some Jim specific etiquette if they're sort of unofficial lines that formed if you might not be recognizing someone else is already doing this thing and is waiting for that machine. Well, how about not unofficial etiquette? The place we usually start that we have not tapped into yet is, is there official etiquette? Are there gym rules about how to approach, you know, how to get on a machine next and how long you can stay on a machine? We certainly know for cardio, there are often signups and limits and things like that. And same with swim lanes and stuff. Exactly. But it would not surprise me if there are some official rules about this and asking the gym West might be a way to start out figuring out how you want to approach. And it can both be an ask about official policies, but also about common practice. You can always ask someone, is there a policy? Do we get to sign up for machines? And the answer is no. Is there, and you can ask, what's the best practice? I'm here for the car. I'm here for the elliptical. I know those are often busy. Is there a system? Is there something I should know about getting onto an elliptical and or just being polite about how I do it. If it is an unofficial line, it might be that just being in the area, being present when that moment of opportunity presents itself is the thing. And staying in the area, doing some stretching, some calisthenics, finding a machine or some free weights nearby that you like and can use in between other things while you're waiting for that opportunity. And who knows, maybe being in that area really focused on waiting your turn might give you an eye on what other people are doing to do the same thing. That might give you a bit of a lens or a view on other people who might also be queuing up in their own ways if there isn't that official or unofficial procedure that we talked about. This is a great question. We appreciate that you are thinking about it because it shows that you are a practicer of consideration, respect, and honesty, even at the gym. And I got to say, I loved it because it's a little more encouragement to get myself moving again. Thanks so much for the question, and we hope our answer helps. Thank you for your questions. Please send us updates or feedback on our answers to awesomeetiquette at emilypost.com. And please send us your questions. We definitely are starting to run a little low. Audience, I believe you've got them. Don't be shy. Send us your questions. You can leave a voicemail or text at 802-858-KIND. That's 802-858-5463. You can email us at awesomeetiquette at emilypost.com or you can reach us online. Leave a comment on our Monday Substack podcast post. It's open to all. Or on Instagram, we are at Emily Post Institute. On Facebook, we are The Emily Post Institute. Just remember to use the hashtag Awesome Etiquette with any social media posts so that we know you want your question on the show. If you enjoy Awesome Etiquette, you can support the show by becoming a subscriber to our Substack. Simply go to emilypost.substack.com. You'll get weekly content like our podcast, etiquette articles, and the inspirational Saturday sip delivered straight to your inbox. Whether you choose the free or community member paid subscription, it's the best way to stay up to date on all things Emily Post. And to those of you who are already with us on Substack, thank you so much for your support. It's time for our feedback segment where we hear from you about the questions we answer and the topics we cover, and today we have feedback from Teresa. This feedback came via Facebook. Teresa begins. You missed the explanation of Ms. Hyphenated Name when you gave so many examples. So many people skip the hyphenated and use the name instead of recognizing the hyphenated name. You should take the opportunity to tell people, if the person announces their name is hyphenated, that one doesn't reply with only half of the name. It's like the word part-time. And instead of asking if you work part-time, it would be asking you if you want to work time. You can help educate the world. I've had the name for 39 years and it continues to be a problem for people. And to explain that one should correct people when they do it wrong without remorse or frustration. After all, it's your name. I'm interested in hearing what your thoughts on this are. Teresa Teresa, thank you so much for the feedback. You know, Dan, in our book, we did not actually spell out the importance of when you encounter a hyphenated name saying both names. The same is true when you encounter someone who has a double first name or a double last name. I grew up with kids who they didn't have a hyphen between the last name, but there were two last names. So it was always the two last names. And also, I've known many people who have what might sound like a double name, but is actually a single name. I have a friend, Mary Kate, where it's not Mary dash Kate, it's Mary Kate, all one word, or all one name, I should say. And I think this is a good, Teresa has a great point to really make sure that we hammer home that should you encounter a hyphen, should you encounter a double name, you always say both. You don't leave one off. I loved the example of part-time. It would be like asking you want to work time or you want to work part and people wouldn't understand what you're saying. It's really illustrative. It's great. Teresa, thank you so much for the feedback. And thank you for your thoughts and updates. Please do keep them coming. You can send your next piece of feedback or update on your question to awesomeetiquette at emilypost.com. You can also leave us a voicemail or text at 802-858-KIND. That's 802-858-5463. It's time for our PostScript segment where we dive deeper into a topic of etiquette. And today we're going to talk about Halloween just in the nick of time. Lizzie Post, I wanted to launch us off by acknowledging that holidays and particularly Halloween can start to feel just a little kitschy and cheesy to me sometimes. And I also wanted to remind myself before we started talking about the etiquette of it, how much I also genuinely enjoy it. The block party that happens in our town, all of the The Little Traditions, how exciting it is for children. There are so many ways that holidays work and function and function for individuals and families and communities. They're not just dumb holidays. They're important markers. Disassociated teen isn't living as big as it used to on this one. Yes. I love Halloween. I actually never enjoyed having my birthday close to Halloween, but I do. I like that people break out the costume. I was never really into the horror, like horror masks scared me. And Sonny actually got really freaked out by a mask on someone's yard recently, which was interesting. Good Halloween etiquette there, I'm sure. You know, it is. But because I had a moment with Halloween and timing, you talked about just in the nick of time, I was that person often trying to buy candy and a pumpkin, like the day of Halloween or the day before Halloween. and just being so unsuccessful so I'd always have to like do paper bags and you know chocolate covered raisins candles in them and I would manage to get enough candy together that I never had to do that but it it was you know it was just feeling really rushed so this year I'm seeing all the Halloween stuff at the grocery store and the pumpkins are big and there's tons of them and I'm just like Okay, okay. I am headed to New York this week, which means I need to get this stuff now because if I wait until after I get back from my New York trip, it's going to be like the weekend of and I'm going to miss out. Everything's going to be sold out. I'm going to be that person again. I'm not being that person this year. So I buy two pumpkins and I buy three bags of candy and I'm feeling so like, this is like adulting as Kelly Williams Brown would say. I'm like, yes, I'm winning. And I get home and it is not until an entire 36 hours have passed and I'm talking with my friend Jenny and we bring up Halloween that I realize it's the 27th of September, not the 27th of October. And that I now have a pumpkin that might not even make it to Halloween. And candy that I have had to store at my neighbor's house so I don't eat it. Like... Well, except for the pumpkin, it just means you're ready even earlier, right? When you don't have the kids to keep you on track for the holidays, things get a little squirrely. Oh, but anyway, thank you for indulging a little Lizzie stupidity on this one. But what a great time to remind everyone to get the decorations up early, but not too early. Except they're hearing this the day before. But when I lived in California for all of two months, I lived next to a house that did the Halloween thing. And they did it for a long time, like Christmas was happening when I arrived and their Halloween stuff was still up. And it was bodies coming out of the ground and like, you know, bats hanging everywhere and R.O.U.S.s from the Princess Bride and just like, it was wild. I'd never lived next to anything like that before. Like you, I've seen more and more decorations. Halloween decorations get the pass on gore and horror and that can... I have questions like how do parents deal with that? Is that too scary? Is it... does it give you a good chance to talk about scary stuff? Because I'm very curious on the etiquette of how gory should we really be with our Halloween decorations. And that is the perfect bridge or transition from thinking broadly about the holiday into some etiquette, some specific etiquette. And the question around the appropriateness of decorations on a front yard I think is a perfect place to introduce the idea that there are some very adult themes related to this holiday. Themes around sex and violence. And there's language that we can use to talk about those things that we've gotten more and more comfortable talking about horror and gore collectively as a society. But when people, particularly little people, see those images, they can be really impacting. And I think that one is easier for people to understand. It comes to mind when you think about Halloween because it's the scary holiday or the potentially frightful holiday, the holiday that has a lot of death themes associated with it. Yep, yep. Could bring up some questions. It's also really true that this holiday functions in America where we don't have a carnival, take Mardi Gras aside. In a lot of ways Halloween has become a stand-in in the absence of those things culturally as a place where you can have a party that has some explicit themes sexually or where costumes can be a little bit more explicit than any other time of the year or any other type of costume party that someone might go to and being aware of how those themes that are legitimate holiday themes that serve a good purpose and function in a lot of ways Play differently in the public space where we have people of all ages and all different backgrounds and social expectations. So those front yard decorations become a real place where that question presents itself front and center. You're reminding me of the moment in Hocus Pocus where the kids go to the, you know, they're being chased by all the witches and they go to the parents party that all the parents are out and mom's in a, you know, Madonna with the cone bra costume and high ponytail. Different versions of Madonna costume party. You know, but it is a time where kind of thing like we give ourselves permission as a society to really go in a lot of different directions and to do that very publicly. And to me, it isn't like shut it down, because these shouldn't be anywhere in the public. It's that I think my goal from an etiquette perspective and a front lawn perspective, or I'm going to wear this costume out, Episode 477 or a sickly sweet costume. That could be really scary to some people. From Hello Kitty to the Grim Reaper. To Freddy Krueger. I mean it really runs the gamut. But I do think just thinking about where and when and how people are going to be exposed to the things that we choose to put out there for it. It's a worthwhile thought. And I would put a reciprocal etiquette out there for parents. That you're prepared for the public space to have more of those types of themes and more of that kind of content than it might usually and that that's it's a reasonable expectation as a parent to be ready to talk to kids and help kids navigate situations where maybe it's just about not looking as closely at the details of what's going on on that person's front yard as acknowledging that there are some really exuberant Halloween decorations over there on that side of the street and you maybe don't go take as close a look as you might during a different holiday. I was gonna say in the case of Sonny freaking out at one of them I had to go up to it and touch it and show him that it like wasn't real. It was like poor dog. Your dog's a six-year-old. They're ready for the explanation at this point. Speaking of lawns and yards, we often walk door-to-door trick-or-treating. What is some of our classic advice, Dan, for trick-or-treating? Are you ever too old? I love your advice on this one, Lizzie Post, which is that it's not up to you standing behind a door to judge the age of the kids that are approaching. And your reminder to me that for many, for many young teens or late adolescents, this is one of the last sort of elements of childhood that they really get to participate in fully and with abandon. That there is a period of time. Until they go to college. Yeah. No, that there's this period of time in life where it's, we don't quite know, are we kids or are we grownups or how much of us has grown up and how much of us is kid. And I think this is a great holiday to indulge that little kid in everyone. Yeah. And Lizzie Post, what about those kids at the door? What is that exchange all about? How does it feel courteous to you when it goes well? Parents, I have to give every parent in the area I live like major props because I have rarely ever met a kid who didn't say trick or treat, please and thank you. And who some of them even chat about their costumes. And I just hope that every parent when they walk door to door and they hear their kid continually saying thank you is just like there's little bells and chirps and fireworks and rainbows and butterflies going off all around their heads because It's apparent that parents are working on their manners with their kids. I see it on Halloween, I feel like more than any other holiday. Christmas, they're too excited about all the gift opening. It's like Halloween, I hear a lot of thank yous. It's okay to talk to kids and say, Oh, look at that costume. If you don't know what something is, you can ask, Oh, and what are you this year? Oh, that's scary, you know, and not in a way that's, you know, Jordan, but in a way that that is supportive of them and curious, it's okay for you to ask about their costumes. Some kids are going to answer back at length, other kids aren't going to give you much, it's okay, roll with it, you know. I do think it's really nice, Dan, when you acknowledge the parent who's kind of standing nearby, offer them a treat if they want it. But I also think it's okay to say things like, please take two, take three, or, you know, here, take one, whatever the amount is. I think it's nice to give the kids a number of the number of pieces they can pull from your candy bowl. But those are some of the big ones. I think that when you come across houses that have set up a table with some candy on it that says, you know, please take one, Being really respectful and only taking a single bag of what's been put out. This happened a lot during the pandemic, but some people do this and making sure that you're respectful of the fact that you want to leave some for others. I think it's self-control. It can be hard. Not all the teenagers do it, but I think that it's an important one when you don't have that person-to-person interaction is to still be really polite with the property of the space that people are providing for you to still Take some candy and have that trick-or-treat moment, even if they're not at home. What if you don't want people trick-or-treating at your house? Turn those lights off. I know it can sound like we're telling people just sit in the dark, close the curtains. Don't even order takeout. But no, I think it is those kinds of signals. You don't have lit pumpkins out front. The windows to the front of the house are shaded or drawn or dark. Episode 477 Episode 477 Episode 477 But if you're really trying to show that you're not participating, you gotta, I think you gotta kind of display it. You can't just assume people are gonna get it from lights on and cars in the driveway and stuff like that. Most of us will remember to turn off the floodlight that has a switch. Sometimes that means turning off the motion sensor on the front of house floodlight as well. Oh, aren't you clever, cousin. Smart. I'm also thinking, it's so funny, from the parent side of things, for every piece of advice that you just offered for someone who is receiving trick-or-treaters, there is a reciprocal piece of advice for the guest, the trick-or-treating guest on the front step. That you don't approach houses that are dark, that aren't lit, that you listen to your host's cues as to how much you can take or whether or not you're welcome to take more than one. that you're prepared for that question. This is one of my favorite tips for parents is that oftentimes there is that little exchange that happens around the giving of the treat where someone shows some curiosity about a costume because it's the natural thing to be talking about in that moment. And just having your younger children prepared to hear that question, they don't have to engage in conversation, but just to say, I'm a butterfly or I'm a little devil or whatever it is. Emily Post Etiquette Thank you so much for coming. Thank you so much for the treat. Have a happy Halloween. I love it. I love it. I hope everyone's gonna hear a lot of that tomorrow night when they're out trick-or-treating if they choose to participate. And for those of you that don't like participating in Halloween, I hope your doors and doorbells are left untouched for the entire evening. Dan, this has been really fun. I can't wait to hear what the kids are picking this year from my niece and nephew to your kids and all of the sixth generation. It is really fun when the costume photos start flying around the family chats. I'm looking forward to it as well. Happy Halloween, Lizzie Post. Happy Halloween. We like to end our show on a high note, so we turn to you to hear about the good etiquette you're seeing and experiencing out in this world, and that can come in so many forms. And today we have a salute from a certain little William. I want to offer a salute to my neighbor Jane. I was in a pickle this week. I had agreed to chaperone a field trip for my daughter on Friday. On Thursday night, my childcare for my two-year-old fell through. I found myself calling the extended family network, asking in-laws if they were looking for time to spend with the new nephew. With such short notice, no one was available. I didn't know what to do. As a Hail Mary, I called our awesome etiquette neighbor, let's call her Jane, who had brought by brownies for the kids the night before. She is retired, travels a lot, and always does nice things for the kids when they visit each other. She not only said she would be happy to watch the kids, she wouldn't even let me thank her, saying that it would really be her pleasure. All I know is how relieved it made me feel. I can't wait to pick out a thank you gift for her with my kids. And to share this with the Awesome Etiquette team. Thank you so much for the salute. I can only imagine how relieved you were, how relieved your coworkers probably were. That is an awesome, like, pinch moment to have someone be so gracious. You know what I mean? To really make you feel like you're not burdening them, but giving them a delight for the day. Yeah, big difference. To me, that's almost the biggest courtesy someone could give you when you have to ask for a favor of making you feel like it wasn't a big ask. You don't say Dan Post, you don't say. I know, right? William, thank you for the salute. And thank you for listening. Thank you to everyone who sent us something and to everyone who supports us on Substack. It is the best way to support this show. Please help us grow the Awesome Etiquette community. Do share this show with friends, family and coworkers however you like to share podcasts. You can support the show by sending us questions feedback and salutes and we really mean it when we say there is no show without you so send us those questions feedbacks and salutes by email to awesomeetiquette at emilypost.com By phone, leave us a message or text at 802-858-KIND. That's 802-858-5463. On Instagram, we are at Emily Post Institute. On Facebook, we are The Emily Post Institute. Or you can leave your question in the comments thread on our Monday podcast substack post. An ads-free version of the show is available with a paid subscription to our Substack. Find out more at emilypost.substack.com. You can also subscribe to the ads version of our show on Spotify or your favorite podcast app, and please consider leaving us a review. It helps our show ranking, which helps more people to find awesome etiquette. Our show is edited by Chris Albertine and assistant produced by Bridget Dowd. Thanks Chris and Bridget!