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just because you can doesn’t mean you should January 28, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Management, Overheard.
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Using the restroom, unless you have a small child who is learning or you live in a communal-bathroom dormitory and are having competitions of the sort that college students tend to have, is a private thing. There are just certain simple rules of bathroom etiquette that need to be followed at the office.

First among these — outside the general guidelines for men using urinals — is that you do not talk to other people in the bathroom when it becomes clear that they are there to make number two. (Not this one, though.) It doesn’t matter if you see them walk in and go to a stall. It doesn’t matter if you come in and recognize someone’s bag or jacket hanging over the door. There is no excuse whatsoever to intrude on what is a personal and private moment.

Look, we all poop. Every one of us. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. But do you really want to think about what your co-worker (or, worse, your boss) is doing in the next stall? There’s little weirder than stepping into a stall and, as you’re about to do your business, someone says “hey, Jeff, making a deposit before you head out for the weekend?”

How do you react to that? Do you release the hounds anyway? Do you clamp down and wait until you hear that person depart the bathroom? Do you make a witty retort, let it fly, and damn the consequences?

I’m betting most people go with option two — male or female, no one wants their boss to hear those noises. Sure, if you’ve been in the bathroom for ten minutes, your boss knows where you’ve been, but it’s polite not to mention it — especially if you’re feeling sick and your boss is fully aware there’s only one reason for your frequent trips to the bathroom.

This is really directed more toward managers — if you go into the bathroom and do your thing, your employees are likely not going to say anything, but there’s a few awkward situations involving how to talk to management, and one of them is how we the peons react when you make a quip as we’re about to poop.

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Please make a note of it.

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Comments»

1. another post about poop and work « corporatespeak - October 28, 2009

[…] once upon a time, that my ex-boss walked into the bathroom, realized it was me in the stall, and struck up a conversation. I think that was probably a little more disturbing than this: I sneak into my workplace bathroom […]

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