Etiquette Super-Heroes The Posts Save the Day

Lizzie Post and Daniel Post-Senning, co-authors of “Emily Post’s Etiquette, 18th Edition,” are suiting up in their tights and capes to fight some etiquette crime.

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: They’re the great, great grandchildren of Emily Post and join us once a month to tackle your most trying dilemmas and help everyone get along. You guys are like superheroes.

Daniel Post Senning: Capes and all.

Lizzie Post: I love it.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Yeah. It’s the summer blockbuster season, you know?

Rico Gagliano: Get in on that, guys.

Brendan Francis Newnam: So, I wanted to start with an etiquette question of my own that involves you two. I was in Vermont the other weekend. Beautiful, beautiful state. And for years, I’ve been telling you I would pay a visit at the Emily Post Institute, the most polite place in the world. Well, I was super busy, and I didn’t. But now in the age of social networking, it’s easy for people to see where you are, and I’m wondering, I felt uncomfortable Tweeting and Instagraming that I was there because I knew people would want to know that I was there. What’s the etiquette around that?

Rico Gagliano: Should he have felt self conscious about it or just gone with it?

Lizzie Post: Only when it comes to us! No, you should tweet. You can’t see everybody on a trip. We were not planned as a part of your trip. If you had had time and wanted to see if we were around, that would have been great. If not, we understand. We’re just mostly happy that you’re here. I think that anybody who’s traveling to a place where they have friends and they’re probably not going to be able to see them, it’s still okay to post and make references to where you are.

Rico Gagliano: Really? But then you get the inevitable, “You’re here now? Why did I not know that?”

Lizzie Post: Yeah. I mean, that happens. But then just say, “Yeah, I am. I wish I had time to see you, but I don’t.”

Daniel Post Senning: It’s a little bit like the RSVP question. Don’t be afraid to give the no. Assume that the other person is secure enough to accept that. You’re a special person, but you’re not so special that hearts will break all across Vermont. Although I love the awareness that you’re thinking about it and how you use social media and all of the layers of messages that it sends.

Lizzie Post: I think Brendan is that special. Just saying.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Aw, thanks guys. Well thanks for answering my question. Now we have questions from our audience.

Rico Gagliano: From actual real people. Here are some…

Brendan Francis Newnam: Hey, I’m a real person.

Rico Gagliano: Well, you’re a ‘special’ person. There’s a difference.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Oh, thank you. I think.

Rico Gagliano: Okay, here’s something from Lucy in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Lucy asks: “If you bring a dish to a dinner party and not all of it gets eaten, do you take the rest home or do you leave it there?”

Brendan Francis Newnam: Good barbeque season question.

Lizzie Post: That is a good barbeque season question. I think that this really lies with the host. I think that you bring a dish knowing that it’s gonna get eaten. You’re not expecting to take home leftovers. I think a good host, if there’s a decent amount of a dish left, will package it up and send it back home with the person who made it; I think that is just considerate. I know personally I have a household of two people in it. I’m not gonna be able to finish most of the leftovers from a barbeque.

Daniel Post Senning: And if everybody brings over something, then your refrigerator gets filled up and you don’t have room for it anyway.

Brendan Francis Newnam: That’s why I throw parties. Are you kidding me? Leftovers all week!

Lizzie Post: Right? As a guest, don’t be mad if you don’t get those leftovers. You brought that dish to contribute, and that should be the spirit with which you think of it.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Alright. This next question comes from Tiffany in San Antonio. Tiffany writes: “I really need to know what is the rule on what time of day is okay to text someone. I get that 9 to 9 is acceptable to call someone, but does that apply to text? I sleep with my text sound off, and I figure most people do too, and will get back to me in the morning. But is that normal?”

Lizzie Post: Well definitely do not assume that most people do. I certainly don’t.

Rico Gagliano: I don’t either.

Daniel Post Senning: No, that’s a pretty fancy level of cell phone use there.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Wait, you guys have your text sound on? First of all, I have no sound on anything because we all look at our phones seven million times a day.

Rico Gagliano: Oh, so it’s always on vibrate?

Brendan Francis Newnam: Yeah, it can be on vibrate for rings, but text, it doesn’t do anything. Text is kind of the discrete, 24-hour line.

Rico Gagliano: But what about for emergencies, you know?

Lizzie Post: That’s why I leave mine on.

Rico Gagliano: What if that’s the way that somebody texts you? Basically are you saying that for an emergency you should call?

Brendan Francis Newnam: You shouldn’t text in an emergency. How would you text in an emergency? Like, “OMG, hit by car!”

Lizzie Post: “My vocal chords got slashed! I can’t talk! Somebody call 911 for me!”

Brendan Francis Newnam: Yeah, I think that it’s okay to call, and then you have it on vibrate, which kind of makes a sound anyway.

Rico Gagliano: Okay, I see what you’re saying.

Lizzie Post: Basically, I think the question is really about what time is it okay to send a text message, and I think texting is kind of a fair game one. But I also don’t think you should be texting people all the time at really early or late hours.

Daniel Post Senning: Maybe the purpose of the text comes into play here a little bit also. If you’re talking about business, maybe sticking to the old call rules makes sense, just because you don’t want to impose, even that thought on the space. If they’re not gonna reply to a business issue after 8 or 9, then why send the text then? If it’s a social text, something that you do do all hours of the day and night, you know your audience, why not?

Rico Gagliano: Alright. So text bomb your friends basically, Tiffany, but give your boss a break during late-night hours. Here’s something from Beth in Saint Paul, Minnesota. And Beth writes: “In my professional life I use my full name, Elizabeth. In daily life, however, everyone calls me Beth. When I send in job applications I always use Elizabeth because I want potential employers to find my publications, but if I’m lucky enough to get an interview, it starts to feel awkward for them to call me by a name I don’t really use day to day. At what point in a job application process is it appropriate to switch to a nickname?”

Lizzie Post: Right away. Just as soon as you’re introduced to the person, I would say, “Yeah, my name’s Elizabeth Sterling,” we’ll make it up, “but please feel free to call me Beth.” And just right then and there at that first interaction, and it’s okay that her published material is listed as Elizabeth. That person to person interaction, it should be used by Beth.

Daniel Post Senning: And you can definitely offer your preferred name as part of a self introduction also.

Brendan Francis Newnam: I love this question. That’s like a classic. That’s a question for your great, great grandmother. You know what I mean? That’s like Emily Post First Edition.

Daniel Post Senning: Absolutely, and it’s a great one to ask someone if you’re meeting someone for the first time. “Daniel, do you prefer Daniel or is okay to call you Dan?” It’s okay to ask about contractions or nicknames.

Lizzie Post: But it’s definitely better to offer as the person. So for instance, if you were going into a job interview and the person who interviews is gonna be your boss, would you ask them,”Oh, can I call you Dan?” No.

Daniel Post Senning: But you might ask, “What do you prefer to be called?”or “How do you like to be addressed?”

Lizzie Post: See, I say in that kind of a situation you should just address them by the formal and wait for them to invite you to the…

Brendan Francis Newnam: Oh! We have a disagreement between Dan-Dan and Liz-Liz.

Rico Gagliano: So choose your muskets. Let’s settle this the old fashioned way.

Daniel Post Senning: Well we can agree that you are welcome to tell people how you want to be called.

Lizzie Post: Absolutely.

Rico Gagliano: Alright, Lizzie Post and Daniel Post Senning, thank you for telling our audience how to behave, but I still want to see you duel sometime.

Daniel Post Senning: Gentlemen, once again, a pleasure.

Lizzie Post: Thanks so much, guys.