Revisiting Bathroom Etiquette

Modern Manners Guy tackles one of the most disgusting aspects of bathroom etiquette: chatty coworkers. Find out how to avoid a foul situation. 

Richie Frieman
2-minute read

Revisiting Bathroom Etiquette


In my tenure as Modern Manners Guy, I’ve heard countless stories from readers and friends where I said to myself, “I can’t believe I have to explain this to people!” Relationship questions, work issues, weird commuters – these always make for hilarious topics, but nothing beats bathroom etiquette snafus. At least once a day I’ll get an email or a call about some foul activity that was witnessed in the bathroom. And usually, these stories are completely nauseating. But it’s my job to make light of these situations and direct my readers and listeners on how to handle them properly. 

Case in point, the other day a colleague told me this story: He walked into the bathroom mid-conversation with another coworker. My colleague went to the sink to check his teeth (it would be a shame to walk around all afternoon with spinach in his teeth) and his coworker went into the private stall…to go #2.  My colleague stopped talking, to give him some privacy, as any other normal-minded person would do. Yet this coworker in the stall didn’t stop talking. My colleague had no desire to listen to his coworker grunt and push his bowels while discussing the agenda for that afternoon’s meeting. This is gross, folks! Who does this? It’s fowl on all five senses.

See also: Awkward Office Restroom Conversations

Luckily my friend was a quick thinker and did exactly what I would have done. He said he just got a text from his boss and had to run. Yes he was lying and, no, I don’t advocate lying, but sometimes a white lie that doesn’t hurt anyone is the only way to survive such a disgusting situation. 

See also: How to Use Your Cell Phone in the Bathroom

When you walk into a bathroom with someone and you each go your separate ways, the conversation stops right then. You do not have to continue talking to someone while they – or you – are going to the bathroom. It’s a mutual understanding that privacy and personal space trump any conversation. 

I can’t think of one conversation I’ve had in my entire life that couldn’t wait for either party to finish using the bathroom. Let’s all make a pact that we agree to pick up right where we left off, once everyone is done. Sound like a plan? You don’t want to think about (or hear) someone going to the bathroom as they rattle off last quarter’s numbers for the meeting at noon. It’s unprofessional and just downright gross.  

Do you have a great story about an uncomfortable bathroom conversation?  Post all the details in the comment section below or on the Modern Manners Guy Facebook page

As always, if you have another manners question, I look forward to hearing from you at manners@quickanddirtytips.com. Follow me on Twitter @MannersQDT, and of course, check back next week for more Modern Manners Guy tips for a more polite life


About the Author

Richie Frieman