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Amazingly, fully grown adults in a professional setting still seem to have trouble with sharing a restroom. I’m looking at you, Ms. Doesn’t-Flush-And-Doesn’t-Care, and you, Mr. Takes-Phone-Calls-While-On-The-Toilet.
While every office is different, here a few helpful guidelines for navigating the corporate bathroom:
1) Check your stall for toilet paper before you sit down.
This will help you avoid the awkward situation of asking someone in another stall to hand you a wad of paper. Also, you’ll be in a bit of a fix if you’re the only one in the bathroom.
2) After you flush (and please, do flush), check to make sure the toilet actually flushed.
Sometimes toilets make noise, but don’t do all the work it sounds like they are.
3) Gently and slowly push on the door to a stall when entering.
In the off-chance that the stall is occupied and you didn’t know, this will help you avoid either smacking someone with the door or otherwise inconveniencing someone when their pants are down.
4) No matter how shy you are, at some point, you will probably need to have a bowel movement at work.
I’ve known many people who go to great lengths to avoid this, but really—it, and I mean, “it,” happens. Worried about odor? Try using a product like “Poo-Pourri” where you spray the toilet water before you do your business. Worried about noise? Depending on the intensity of the bowel movement, pulling out toilet paper while you’re doing your business may muffle some of the sound (for those of you who menstruate, you can also do this with a strategic opening of your hygienic products). Worried about judgment? Most of us are, but the good news is a lot of people don’t care. If they do care, it will probably never be important enough to remember or talk about.
5) Check your shoes, the floor around you, and the toilet seat to make sure you haven’t left a mess.
I thought walking into a meeting with toilet paper on your shoe only happened in the movies. I was distraught to discover that I was wrong.
6) Don’t get to chatty at the urinal or while washing your hands.
Most people don’t want a lot of attention in the bathroom. At least, I don’t think they do.
7) Do your best not to comment on the noises coming from another stall.
If someone sounds like they’re puking their guts out, okay, fine, go ahead and ask if they need help. But usually, the kinds of noises made in the bathroom are not the kinds of noises we want people to acknowledge. Also, if you’re the noisy one, maybe try less grunting.
8) Avoid passive aggressive notes in the stalls about messes.
They usually don’t work, and if anything, that’s HR’s problem. You don’t want to be known as the, “If You Sprinkle When You Tinkle” person.
9) If you’re applying make-up, doing your hair, or otherwise using bathroom space for extended grooming, please don’t block the door, the hand dryer, or other frequently trafficked spots in the bathroom.
While your contouring is important to you, being able to wash and dry one’s hands is important to everyone else. No one cares that much about your eyebrows anyway, Janet.
10) Don’t be bladder shy.
We all know what the toilet is for, and occupying a stall in complete silence while waiting for other people to leave seems strange and gives an uncomfortable vibe in the bathroom. Being able to hear each other pee is weird enough without having someone anonymously lurking.
And most importantly, while you’re going to try to have good bathroom etiquette, do not expect everyone else to have the same guidelines or ideas of bathroom navigation as you do. This will save you frustration and disappointment. What’s important is that you try. One person being conscientious is better than none.