What Is Appropriate Bathroom Stall Conversation?

No matter the level of severity for a conversation, when you enter a bathroom stall to "do your business," all other discussions should end.

Richie Frieman
6-minute read
Episode #380

Before you get fooled by the name of this episode, I’m not talking about “potty language” when I refer to the issue of proper bathroom stall etiquette.  I’m referring to actually talking to one another while you’re in a bathroom stall … you know, taking care of business. And since the Modern Manners Guy show is a gender neutral platform, I’m referring to an actual bathroom stall where you sit versus a urinal.

Now, not to get too gross, but the reason why it’s the stall conversations that are most important is that when people sit down, they naturally get more comfortable. As a result, improperly talking while in a stall is something that is stinking up the world of etiquette. Luckily, Modern Manners Guy tackles any disgusting etiquette regardless of how, well, disgusting! Today's no different with my top three quick and dirty tips for proper toilet talk:

Tip #1: Talking to Someone from the Stall

In an article I wrote called Headphones Etiquette, I talked about improper use of headphones in the bathroom for various situations. One of those areas was in the office bathroom, which, for whatever odd reason, has become a kind of “hangout” for coworkers. Seriously. Next time you go into the bathroom, watch how people greet each other. Just the other day, Evan was washing his hands at the sink when someone walked in like they hadn’t seen each other in five months, let alone a couple of hours. “Heyyyyyy, Evvvvv! My man!” Now, as much as he liked the energetic greeting, the conversation turned rather uncomfortable when his coworker took the conversation into the stall while Evan continued to wash his hands. Here Evan wanted to leave but his coworker kept chatting away while he was in the bathroom. I mean it’s one thing to be excited to see someone in the bathroom (I guess), and it’s another thing to make chit-chat once you enter that stall. When that door shuts, the conversation stops. 

I don’t have to go into too much detail but needless to say a lot of “sounds” occur in the bathroom. Even though we're all adults and understand it’s just nature working, that doesn’t mean we have to take that time lightly. As I said, talk all you want but when you shut that door, the discussion should end. Here’s the proper way to end that conversation: “Hey, Evan. I have to chat about something. I’ll swing by later.” Done and done. Don’t keep the Evans of the world hostage in the bathroom so you can multitask. When someone does this, it shows two things; first, that the person talking lacks respect for other’s time.  Second, the bathroom goer feels as if others are so beneath you, they must wait while you go to the bathroom... for however long that may be.  The conversation may be important but it can wait five minutes. If it can’t, than just don’t go to the bathroom until you’re done. Easy, right?

Tip #2: No Cell Phone Swapping, Please

Another article I wrote about bathrooms (MMG readers have tons of questions about the bathroom and I happily oblige) was called, How to Use Your Cell Phone in the Bathroom. It outlined the dos and don’ts of going mobile when you have to go. As I said, there’s a very fine line between appropriate and “heck no!” when it comes to using your cell phone in the bathroom. The line is so thin, in fact, it almost disappears when you look closely at it. So, when you use your cell phone in a bathroom stall, interacting with someone at the same time, it takes disgusting to an all time high. For example, when Amy was going to the bathroom, a stranger in the stall next to her in a restaurant, slipped her hand under the divider and said, “What do you think of this guy? He’s meeting me here for drinks in a half hour.” Amy was blown away, not only because a stranger was using a cell phone ask for her opinion on what she finds attractive, also because a public bathroom is no time to be swapping cell phones. Sure, you can use your own in your own stall (on silent!) but let’s leave it at that.