Hi, I have a social-interaction question. What is the appropriate response when someone knocks on a restroom door, when you are using that restroom? Do you say something, and if so, what?

realsocialskills said:

You should answer.

There are two basic reasons people knock on bathroom doors:

  1. To find out whether anyone is in the bathroom
  2. To alert whoever is in the bathroom that someone is waiting

You should answer so that the person knocking will know that the bathroom is occupied. Otherwise, they might think no one is in there and try to come in.

Some responses that are generally considered acceptable:

  • “Someone’s in here”
  • “Occupied”
  • “I’m in here”

Generally speaking, don’t identify yourself or say anything with much content. Bathrooms are considered private space, and talking to someone while you’re in a bathroom is likely to be seen as a violation of both your privacy and theirs. (There are exceptions to this, but I don’t know how to explain what they are, and I think they may not be relevant to your question).

Also, if you know that someone is waiting for the bathroom, it’s good to hurry up if you can. Eg: if you know someone is waiting, it’s probably not a good time to start fixing your hair.