Mind the Gap (in the Bathroom)

Do you mind the gap in the office bathroom? If not, this article is a must-read.  

Richie Frieman,
February 3, 2013


I don’t want to become the manners guy who talks about bathroom etiquette a lot, but when people ask, I answer. And it seems that a lot of you have questions regarding the rules of bathroom etiquette. Just last week, I tackled the subject of improper conversations in the bathroom and how they should end as soon as you start your business.  It seems that bathrooms in workplaces across the globe are stinking with improper behavior—even worse than your coworker who had a second round of chili in the cafeteria.  

One thing that really bugs people is when fellow bathroom patrons don’t mind the gap. Allow me to paint a picture for you: You come into your office bathroom. Since you’re the only one there, you have your choice of stalls. Once you occupy one, several stalls are still available, but then someone walks in and chooses the one right next to yours. Now, there is no “gap” between you and a fellow coworker.  

Using a restroom at work—or in any public place for that matter—is an awkward experience. Public bathrooms are vulnerable places where we do business that we don’t want to share with others. That’s why we do whatever we can to get as much privacy as possible. So when someone sits down right next to you (when there are other stalls available), they infringe on that privacy.

When you enter a bathroom, always try to choose a stall that leaves a gap between you and whoever is already in there. If they’re all busy and you can’t help it, that’s fine, we understand. But when there is a choice of stalls, please consider the other patrons and leave a gap.

Here’s a little quiz to make sure we’re all on the same page: If there are 4 stalls in a restroom and stall #1 is being used, which do you pick? If you said stall 3 or 4, you are correct because now there is a gap between yourself and the other person. If you said stall 2…well, then you need to re-read this article again because chances are, you’ve made the other person wonder, “Why would you sit so close to me?!”

Bathroom sign from Shutterstock

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