Author Topic: Asking for the bathroom  (Read 5226 times)

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gramma dishes

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Re: Asking for the bathroom
« Reply #30 on: January 28, 2013, 11:23:21 AM »
A friend ... thinks I should ask for permission to use the bathroom...

Your friend is wrong.

I'm curious as to where your friend got that idea! 

When I was a teacher (second grade) the children did have to ask permission (we had a hand signal and I would just nod) because the bathroom was not with my classroom and I needed to keep track of who was out of the room at any given time.  But I would never, nor have I ever known anyone else who would, expect any guest in my home to ask "permission" to use the bathroom!!   :o

Giggity

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Re: Asking for the bathroom
« Reply #31 on: January 28, 2013, 12:48:17 PM »
Your friend is overthinking.
Words mean things.

WillyNilly

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Re: Asking for the bathroom
« Reply #32 on: January 28, 2013, 12:53:18 PM »
When we have guests, we greet them, take their coats, offer a seat and a drink.  The next thing we say is, 'There's a bathroom two doors down on the right' and point to the hall. 

  Visitors may want to freshen make-up, wash hands or comb hair before relaxing in the living room. This is a way to let them know that the bathroom is available any time it may be needed.

       
that's what i do. and if i'm a guest in someone's house - i just ask "where's the bathroom". I also think OP is overthinking this.

I'm not overthinking anything. A friend told me I was being blunt doing what I do, she thinks I should ask for permission to use the bathroom, and I wanted your opinion.


I think you are over thinking the word "permission".  Yes, asking "may I use your bathroom?" is more polite and less blunt then just announcing "I'm using your bathroom".  Your friend is right.  But its not real permission, because yes, the person is almost certainly going to say "of course, its down the hall to the left" or whatever.  But ultimately in the polite dance of social etiquette, you are intending to use something of theirs, their resource, and yes you should ask first and not just declare "I'm doing this!"

If you really hate the idea of asking for permission, tweak it as many posters have said they do "where is your bathroom?" or "the bathroom is down the hall, right?", or even just a "please excuse me a moment".  These are all questions/requests as well, although less overt.  But its still paying forth the respect for someone's home that while yes of course they will let you use it, its still theirs, and its polite to ask first.

Hmmmmm

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Re: Asking for the bathroom
« Reply #33 on: January 28, 2013, 01:13:00 PM »
When we have guests, we greet them, take their coats, offer a seat and a drink.  The next thing we say is, 'There's a bathroom two doors down on the right' and point to the hall. 

  Visitors may want to freshen make-up, wash hands or comb hair before relaxing in the living room. This is a way to let them know that the bathroom is available any time it may be needed.

       
that's what i do. and if i'm a guest in someone's house - i just ask "where's the bathroom". I also think OP is overthinking this.

I'm not overthinking anything. A friend told me I was being blunt doing what I do, she thinks I should ask for permission to use the bathroom, and I wanted your opinion.


I think you are over thinking the word "permission".  Yes, asking "may I use your bathroom?" is more polite and less blunt then just announcing "I'm using your bathroom".  Your friend is right.  But its not real permission, because yes, the person is almost certainly going to say "of course, its down the hall to the left" or whatever.  But ultimately in the polite dance of social etiquette, you are intending to use something of theirs, their resource, and yes you should ask first and not just declare "I'm doing this!"

If you really hate the idea of asking for permission, tweak it as many posters have said they do "where is your bathroom?" or "the bathroom is down the hall, right?", or even just a "please excuse me a moment".  These are all questions/requests as well, although less overt.  But its still paying forth the respect for someone's home that while yes of course they will let you use it, its still theirs, and its polite to ask first.

This. My impression were people were saying you  were over thinking the idea of "May I use your bathroom?" is anymore of a "asking permission" question than "I'm going to use your bathroom if you don't mind".  In both options the host can say no.  The first one is just phrased more politely. 

gellchom

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Re: Asking for the bathroom
« Reply #34 on: January 28, 2013, 02:22:28 PM »
I think you are over thinking the word "permission".  Yes, asking "may I use your bathroom?" is more polite and less blunt then just announcing "I'm using your bathroom".  Your friend is right.  But its not real permission, because yes, the person is almost certainly going to say "of course, its down the hall to the left" or whatever.  But ultimately in the polite dance of social etiquette, you are intending to use something of theirs, their resource, and yes you should ask first and not just declare "I'm doing this!"

If you really hate the idea of asking for permission, tweak it as many posters have said they do "where is your bathroom?" or "the bathroom is down the hall, right?", or even just a "please excuse me a moment".  These are all questions/requests as well, although less overt.  But its still paying forth the respect for someone's home that while yes of course they will let you use it, its still theirs, and its polite to ask first.

Another excellent post from WillyNilly.

You put your finger on what was bothering me a bit about this string.  I don't think it matters a whole lot whether the question is, on its face, for permission or for directions.  Either way is fine, but what is the problem with asking nicely even when you know what the answer will be?  I just do not get the aversion to "please" and "thank you" and "may I?" that seems to underlie so many posts seeking to use them only when absolutely required.

See, I agree that the question "may I use ..." is a convention like "how are you?" -- not really so much a question or request for permission, in the sense that the OP is correct that of course there's no doubt that the answer will be yes.  But the same is true for "May I please have a glass of water?"  Of course the answer will be yes.  But you don't just march over to the cabinet for a glass in a stranger's or acquaintance's home. 

I stress that I am NOT talking about when you are in your good friend's or your relative's house where you know that you are welcome -- maybe expected -- to take care of yourself.  And I also think that if you are at a big party and can see perfectly well where the powder room is, there is no need to go find and interrupt the hosts and ask them anything; just use it.

If you are in a home where you already know where the facilities (I'm not even going to chime on which noun to use -- I don't find any of them unacceptable) are, then you needn't ask anything -- but you excuse yourself politely (what "politely" requires will depend upon the circumstances; even "I gotta go to the can, man," can be okay -- but, like, when you're watching the game with your football buddies, but not at a dinner party at your boss's house). 

Even in such familiar situations, and for obvious "yes" questions, what is so hard or bad about saying "please" and "thank you" and "excuse me"?  Why try to say them as infrequently as possible?  My husband and I say, "Please pass the salt" to each other.  Doesn't cost us anything.  This is pretty much the same issue I raised in the post about "I'm good" instead of "no, thanks."  If you like to say "I'm good," fine, but say, "I'm good, thanks" -- the same as you'd say "No, thanks," not just "No."  Why not?

Likewise, I don't see much of a difference between "May I please use the restroom?" and "Where is the restroom, please?"  IMHO, they are both fine.  So is Goodness's ""Scuse me, where's your bathroom?"  But "I'm going to use your restroom now" and even "hey, I'm going to use the bathroom, if you don't mind" are not, in my opinion.  (The "if you don't mind" helps  little, but the fact that it seems to be straining to avoid using the conventional question forms above would make me, as a host, pause for a second to figure out if there were some subtext.)  And I bet that's what your friend meant, OP -- not that you must secure permission, but that, in your friend's opinion, "May I please ..." is the more polite way to ask.  I would be interested to hear what your friend thinks of "Where is the restroom, please?"

(By the way, I do agree that hosts past Cub Scout age who think it is hilarious to say, "NO!" are being obnoxious.  I once asked a middle-aged man, to whom I had just been introduced, where he was from.  "My mommy!" he replied.  He's actually an okay guy, but every time I see him I can't help remembering the moronic first impression he made by doing that.)

Softly Spoken

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Re: Asking for the bathroom
« Reply #35 on: March 02, 2013, 05:12:34 PM »
I have to admit I laughed when I read this thread title because it reminded me of one of my grade school teachers. If we asked her "Can I go to the bathroom?" she would respond with "I don't know, can you?"  ::) It was a snarky, PA way of telling us to say "May I?" that we all secretly thought was stupid, especially when we had to pee! :o

IMHO, only children ask permission for the restroom - adults excuse themselves. Now I agreed with PPs that say that may be taking "permission" too literally, but it is an important distinction. This is why I avoid "asking" language.

I would also like to offer what may be a slightly different POV: I always felt going to the bathroom was about excusing yourself from the social situation you were participating in. So if you are in a conversation/eating together/watching tv etc., you would say "Sorry BRB/Excuse me, I need to use the restroom" just so people know what's going on. If you don't know where it is you ask. I was always focused more on finding the most polite way to segway/interrupt than on "ask v. announce." I would assume a hosts bathroom was open and available to guests, and that if it wasn't or if there was some other issue they would say something when I indicated I had to use it.

Obviously everyone has their own word preference, but FWIW I haven't said "Can I" or "May I" in regards to the bathroom since I have been in school - even if I was in an adult situation that required "permission" to use the restroom I would say "Excuse me please, I need to use the restroom" - in my mind, the excuse me was an apology for interrupting and the 'please' would be a nice politeness cherry on top to let the other people involved feel like I was deferring to them - even if I was doing something I was determined do to whether I got their permission or not! :P

Basically my intent is always to keep things polite but low key and unobtrusive "Sorry, but I need"/"Excuse me, where is?" because I know that interrupting is rude 99% of the time, and I always felt that the important social aspect of using the bathroom was discretion - no discussion of why you are going you-know-where or what you plan on doing when you get there. From an etiquette perspective, I wouldn't think anyone would want to make a bigger production out of their or anyone else's bodily function than is necessary. So yes, speak up and excuse yourself but keep it brief and polite.
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EllenS

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Re: Asking for the bathroom
« Reply #36 on: March 04, 2013, 12:00:12 AM »
I was brought up to always say "excuse me." when leaving a group conversation.  If you know the house and where the bathroom is, nothing more needs to be said.

As a first time visitor, when the need arises, I would quietly ask the host or hostess, "where might I find the powder room?" or "where could I wash my hands?"  They might prefer you use a particular bathroom because of traffic flow, or children sleeping upstairs, or whatever.  It also shows respect, that you are not going to go tromping through their house opening doors and looking in rooms you were not invited to use.  Even when you have company, some parts of the house are public and others are private.

But of course, I would adjust the wording depending on my relationship to the host- a friend my own age, I might say, "and the bathroom is...??" or just "powder room?" while with my parents' friends I would be more formal.

Also, it's a quirk but to me the term "restroom" sounds like a public facility.  "bathroom" or "powder room" feel more natural to me.  And in my part of the country, nobody would ever refer to the "toilet" unless they were talking about cleaning it!