The Posts Perform Their Street Magic

Lizzie Post and Daniel Post-Senning, descendants of the famed Emily Post, are co-authors of “Emily Post’s Etiquette, 18th Edition,” and Lizzie recently collaborated on "Emily Post's Wedding Etiquette, 6th Edition" (and they suggest Dan Savage if you want a second opinion).

Lizzie Post and Daniel Post Senning. Courtesy of The Emily Post Institute.
Lizzie Post and Daniel Post Senning. Courtesy of The Emily Post Institute.

Brendan Francis Newnam: You know, we were talking before you arrived this time: where do you guys turn when you have questions? Like we come to you to really kind of settle big etiquette dilemmas. Who do you look to when you’re stumped?

Lizzie Post: I definitely say we look to each other, which sounds really cheesy but we do. I often start off the day by crashing on Dan’s couch and just venting my dilemmas.

Rico Gagliano: Wow. You can’t trust each other can you? You’re like family members. You might have ulterior motives for giving advice.

Lizzie Post: You know, no, what’s funny is that I’ll go to him for advice, and then I’ll tell him the advice was wrong.

Rico Gagliano: That’s wrong? You lead her astray, Dan?

Daniel Post Senning: So true.

Brendan Francis Newnam: So they’re dialecting. Alright.

Daniel Post Senning: But to give a due props, Dan Savage is a great advice giver and I really appreciate his approach and his style.

Taking a Stand on Walking Right

Rico Gagliano: Alright let’s ask you some of our listener questions and if they don’t like your answers they can always turn to Dan. Here’s something from Alexis in Chicago, Illinois. I love this question. Alexis writes, “I was taught to walk on the right side of the sidewalk and to stand on the right side of an escalator so that others could pass on the left. What do I do when encountering louts who don’t know these rules of social order and insist on walking or standing wherever they please creating disorder?”

Brendan Francis Newnam: Amen, Alexis.

Daniel Post Senning: New Yorkers would be so happy with this question. I hear a lot from my New York friends about walking etiquette. It’s time we had a book that dealt with sidewalk etiquette.

Brendan Francis Newnam: I often think about throwing people off the escalator, honestly. It’s unbelievable. You can’t drive like this, the left lane is the passing lane. How do you deal with it when you encounter it in everyday life?

Daniel Post Senning: “Excuse me, pardon me.” Magic words are magic. You need to get by. “Excuse me, pardon me, on your left,” the classic bike path salute.

Rico Gagliano: But unfortunately that put’s the onus on us instead of the jerk who’s standing in our way.

Lizzie Post: Well there’s always gonna be jerks. They’re unaware of it. The truth is, Alexis, that you’re not going to change someone and you’re definitely not going to change someone you don’t know, so just be patient and realize that I am so happy that you are out there in the world, because you will make it better for the rest of us.

Daniel Post Senning: The improper advice is, every once in awhile, particularly when that group of teenagers is walking five across down the sidewalk towards you, instead of stepping out of the way, maybe just let them think for a minute, “Is that person going to walk into me? Is it really appropriate for us to walk three, four across on the sidewalk?”

Lizzie Post: I like that answer a lot. I like that answer.

Rico Gagliano: Like a bowling ball towards pins.

Lizzie Post: Hold your ground!

Brendan Francis Newnam: What I add to the “excuse me, pardon me” – and I find this does work – is if you give a reason. So if you say “excuse me, I’m late for work,” I find that people are a little calmer because they’re like “oh, I can relate to someone having to be somewhere because then we’re all in it together, the man’s oppressing you.” So.

Lizzie Post: I would love it if you just kept walking through the city and saying to people, like, “I’m having a baby! I’m having a baby!”

Brendan Francis Newnam: I’ve tried that, I was arrested.

Lizzie Post: Oh no!

Rico Gagliano: Alright, and also let this be a message to the world though. Stand on the correct side of the escalator, please.

Lizzie Post: Stand on the right!

Balancing Old Friends, New Friends, and Canapés

Brendan Francis Newnam: Alright, so this next question comes from Caroline in Austin, Texas. Caroline writes “Last night, I attended a fundraiser with a close friend at a contemporary art gallery. I had not seen this friend in two weeks so we had a lot to talk about. The thing is, when I attend functions like this, I want to catch up with the friend but I also want to socialize and meet new people. There we were, at this party, and we only spoke to each other. How does one handle this social tango?”

Lizzie Post: I can so identify with this! Be proactive on the front end of it and say “Hey, I totally want to go to this show opening with you, but let’s grab coffee, or dinner, or a drink beforehand so we can catch up.” That way it’s clear that I’m taking time with you, but I want to enjoy the environment we’re headed to as well.

Daniel Post Senning: If you find yourself spending too much time with your close friend and you want to be circulating a little bit, just be intentional. “You know I’m really hoping to introduce myself to a couple of new people tonight.”

Rico Gagliano: Sure, how about “Excuse me I’m going to go mingle for a second let’s round up in 20 minutes or something?”

Lizzie Post: Yes, perfect!

Daniel Post Senning: “Come rescue me if I give you this sign.”

Brendan Francis Newnam: How about we use the same tact when we encounter people on the escalator and say “excuse me” – and then push them to the side and keep walking?

Rico Gagliano: To your friend you did this?

Brendan Francis Newnam: To a friend, yeah.

Rico Gagliano: “I’ve got something to do, I’m having a baby.”

Lizzie Post: “I’m having a baby!”

Brendan Francis Newnam: Several ideas there for you Caroline.

Asking Permission to Snoop, and Talk

Rico Gagliano: And here’s something from Jane in Malibu, California. Jane writes, oh man this is tough. I recently was looking in my 19 year old daughter’s closet for a bathing cap she borrowed before going off to college last fall. I didn’t find the bathing cap, but in a gym bag I did discover an unused pregnancy test, an empty medical marijuana package, and strike three, two empty cigarette boxes.”

Brendan Francis Newnam: This sounds like an LSAT for etiquette people. Is this like kind of a logic problem before you go to etiquette school?

Rico Gagliano: Sounds like a Partnership for a Drug Free America commercial.

Lizzie Post: It does.

Rico Gagliano: “Do I ask my daughter about this stuff?” Asks Jane, “She didn’t give me permission to look into her closet and she is 19, what’s your advice?”

Lizzie Post: Oh, she’s 19, that’s…

Daniel Post Senning: I was going to ask how old’s the daughter?

Lizzie Post: She is 19. This, I mean, this really does come down to actually be more of a parenting question. I mean you are violating her privacy by going in and looking for something.

Daniel Post Senning: Although there is a little bit, the intent is the question because she wasn’t necessarily snooping which, in some way, to me, opens up the discussion a little bit.

Lizzie Post: But snooping or not, you’re still going through someone’s private space without asking them. That’s a really, especially for kids – and I don’t want to call her a kid, she’s 19 – but like, that’s a really big issue. “You went through my stuff without asking me.”

Brendan Francis Newnam: But it seems like her daughter is at college and it is her home and she’s looking for something.

Rico Gagliano: And this isn’t a legal argument, you know? This is your daughter you’re talking about.

Lizzie Post: No, that’s true, but I come down on the side of your daughter is getting into a place in life where she is independent, she’s gong to be living her own life and you’re probably not going to know everything. I know plenty of people who have no told their parents some of the biggest things they’ve gone through in life.

Brendan Francis Newnam: And we’re not talking about you, Dan.

Lizzie Post: Yeah. Or are we? What was that? Car accident number four? No, I’m just kidding. I’m just kidding.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Oh yikes. I want your parents to listen but I also don’t want them to.

Lizzie Post: By the way Dan’s holding up seven fingers going there were seven car accidents.

Rico Gagliano: Alright, this is kind of serious stuff. Is there some basic takeaway we can give Jane here?

Daniel Post Senning: Having difficult conversations is really tricky, so having them well is an important part of the process. Ask permission to have the conversation if you’re going to have it. Approach it with some tact and care and if you’re gong to have the conversation, be sure it’s something that you can live with. That you’re not holding a grudge or harboring a grievance that’s going to really disrupt or affect the relationship in a negative way.

Lizzie Post: Boom!

Rico Gagliano: Alright, now that is some wisdom for you. Ladies and Gentleman, Lizzie and Dan, thank you so much for telling our audience how to behave.

Lizzie Post: Thanks so much for having us.

Daniel Post Senning: Thanks guys, it’s a pleasure to be with you.