Five advice podcasts to navigate the weirdness of daily life

(Photo: NYTimes)
Life is largely returning to what it was in early 2020, with even the most COVID-cautious cities rolling back their restrictions. Though the return to normalcy is a relief, the abrupt shift feels unsettling to many. After two years of clear guidelines and restrictions, we all have to figure out how to be people in the world again.اضافة اعلان

Luckily, there is a whole category of podcasts devoted to just that topic. These five shows, covering intimacy and dating, office politics, family dynamics, and table manners, will help you navigate the weirdness of daily life.

Were You Raised By Wolves?

This lighthearted etiquette podcast is packed with useful tips, but also makes for easy listening thanks to the rapport between the hosts, journalist Nick Leighton and comedian Leah Bonnema. Each episode is highly structured, usually beginning with an “amuse-bouche” — that’s a snappy explanation of a hard-and-fast rule, like which way you should pass the dishes at a dinner party (counterclockwise, FYI). Leighton and Bonnema then delve into a more nuanced subject, like tipping, table manners, or entertaining, and answer listener-submitted questions.

The show also features several recurring segments, like “Vent or Repent,” where the hosts can either rant about an etiquette violation they have recently experienced, or confess to one they have committed.

Starter episode: “Declining Double Dates, Gifting Unwanted Jams, Bailing on Weddings, and More”

Am I Normal? With Mona Chalabi

This affable, thought-provoking show from the TED Collective takes an empirical approach to one of the most subjective areas of all: normalcy. In each episode, British journalist Mona Chalabi tackles a different “should.” For instance: How many friends should I have? Or how long should it take to get over a breakup? What sets this apart from most advice shows is that Chalabi is a data journalist, so she starts out by examining what statistics can objectively tell us about a topic, before consulting experts (and sometimes her mother, a retired doctor) to dig into the gray areas that numbers cannot touch.

Starter episode: “How Many Friends Do I Need?”

Big Mood, Little Mood

Slate was one of the earliest players in the podcast game — its Political Gabfest began in 2005 — so it is no surprise that its long-running advice column “Dear Prudence” made a successful transition to audio. Between 2016 and 2021, that podcast featured Daniel M. Lavery (who wrote as Prudence at that time) responding to listener letters in more depth than a typical column would allow. But after Lavery moved on from the Prudence role last year, his podcast shape-shifted into “Big Mood, Little Mood.” The new show still sees Lavery giving guidance to letter writers, but in the context of longer conversations with a diverse array of guests including writers, comedians, and even fellow advice columnist Heather Havrilevsky.

Starter episode: “Sore Loser”

Awesome Etiquette

No list of shows about manners would be complete without this eight-year-old series descended from the grande dame of American etiquette, Emily Post. Hosted by her great-great-grandchildren, Lizzie Post and Daniel Post Senning, “Awesome Etiquette” is a haven for anyone seeking guidance on social mores. The Posts have covered just about every issue imaginable over the show’s long run, like how to correctly tip on to-go orders (it’s optional, but they suggest 10 percent) and how to approach a dinner party when your diet differs from the hosts’ (give them plenty of notice, and if it’s a preference rather than an allergy, be prepared to be flexible). And as the past two years have reshaped the world, introducing new layers of planning and risk into the simplest social engagements, their soothingly structured advice has never felt more welcome.

Starter episode: “Episode 385 — No Problem”

How’s Work?

Esther Perel, the well-known couples therapist and author, has become a go-to expert on the subject of intimacy and relationships. That is thanks in large part to her hit podcast “Where Should We Begin?,” which lets listeners be a fly on the wall during real couples therapy sessions. Her second series, “How’s Work?,” takes a similar approach, but instead of romantic partners, it spotlights sessions between co-workers, co-founders, and even family members who work together.

As Perel explains in the opening episode, we all have a relationship “pattern,” which shows up just as much in the workplace as it does in romance and friendships. Now that many Americans are heading back to the office, this should be an especially illuminating listen.

Starter episode: “My Promotion Ended Our Friendship”

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