General Question

girlofscience's avatar

What is the etiquette for holding the door for people?

Asked by girlofscience (7449 points ) December 15th, 2008

Let’s say we’re talking about your work building, and the people that you may or may not hold the door for are not carrying large boxes.

How far from the door do they need to be when you walk in for you not to hold the door for them? I feel like there is this weird limbo area between 10 and 20 feet, in which I awkwardly can never decide if I am supposed to hold the door for someone. If the person is less than 10 feet behind me, sure, I’ll hold it (otherwise it would shut right before their face). But what if they’re 10–20 feet away? Especially 20 feet away, I feel like it’s overkill to hold the door that long. (It’s not like it’s that hard to open…) Of course, if they were carrying something heavy, I would do so, but otherwise, no.

What do you think? When do you, and when do you not, hold the door for people? Do you ever feel awkward in deciding when to do so? Has someone ever not held the door for you, and you thought it was rude?

Discuss everything about door-holding etiquette, please.

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35 Answers

Les's avatar

If I think the door is going to close right in front of their nose (regardless of large box carrying), I will hold the door. Even if it means I have to stand there awkwardly for a couple extra seconds. Otherwise, there is nothing wrong with letting the door close. Revolving doors make life so much easier.

rossi_bear's avatar

I always hold the door for the next person that is coming in from behind me, out of resect.

cookieman's avatar

Boston Etiquette

Ten feet or less: Hold Door
Ten to twenty feet: Hold Door and Tap Foot
Twenty feet of more: Hold door, tap foot, and exclaim, “What the fuck?!”

girlofscience's avatar

@rossi_bear: Even if that person is 40 feet behind you?

I think everyone holds the door, generally; this question was about the amount of space they are behind you that requires door holding.

Harp's avatar

In these situations, I try to put myself in the place of the other person; if I were the person following way behind, seeing somebody standing there holding the door would make me feel obliged to hurry up. While I’d know that they were trying to be kind, it would actually make me feel awkward instead. Seeing someone hold a door for more than a few seconds (3–4?) would, I think, trigger that kind of reaction.

rossi_bear's avatar

@grilfscience.. yes it don’t matter the space , if there is someone behind me then I am patient and will hold the door open.

Judi's avatar

My husband and his friends have joked that how long they hold the door is directly related to the attractiveness of the person they’re holding the door for. They even rated girls by how many “steps” from the door they were. “She’s a 10 stepper, she’s a 2 stepper”
Of course they were just joking.
It came out of a conversation with my brothers wife who thought it was some sort of a sexist flirtation for a man to hold the door for a woman at all.

girlofscience's avatar

@rossi_bear: lol, like Harp was saying, I think that would make someone very uncomfortable if they were 80 feet from the door, and you held it all the way until they got there. (Imagining there is no one else between you and the person 80 feet away.)

dynamicduo's avatar

Regular doors: I’ll hold it open if I’m in close proximity, but I won’t wait if the person is slow. Generally my limit is about 10 paces. If the person is jiffy as I am, I’ll be more likely to hold it open longer.

Elevator doors: Hold them open if the person was following behind me. If they stop to check their mail or to chat, I don’t hold the doors. If the person has laundry I’ll hold them longer. If the person is far away I ask if they’re going up, usually if the person will speed up in getting to the elevator if they are.

I did feel a bit awkward this morning though. I went into the elevator and met two people already going down. I got out of the elevator first and because I’m a fast walker, I easily outpaced the others in reaching the first of a series of 3 doors within a 20 foot stretch. I was heading off to work and was a bit late, so I decided to not wait and hold the doors open. I was well inside the parking garage before I heard the last door being opened.

Regardless of sex or age, anyone who holds a door open for me gets a wide smile and a sincere “thanks!”.

wilhel1812's avatar

I won’t hold if it’s more than 13,1233597 feet.

Lightlyseared's avatar

If not holding the door will result in the door slamming in to their face you should probably hold the door.

If they have a push chair, wheelchair or half a dozen out of control 2 year olds then probably holding the door would be helpful.

tonedef's avatar

I can tell you what the appropriate ettiquette for walking through a door that’s being held open.

You apparently avoid any eye contact, and walk past the person and through the door, as if neither exist.

At least, that’s what you’d like if you lived in my city. People are just nastyheads about it down here.

But to answer the question, I think that my max is about 15 feet, if they’re a woman or child. I think about 5 if they’re a man. I don’t know why I have that discrepancy. Does anyone else? Do sex, age, ability, or attractiveness (as noted above) matter?

seVen's avatar

If you’re initially good you’ll do good deeds without thinking about it if you’re not you’ll be scrambling for some kind of “etiquetes”.

johnnyknoxville08's avatar

i don’t like it when people hold doors for me (unless, of course, i’m carrying something)
i know it is out of kindness, but I don’t know——it’s actually one of my most major pet peaves

judochop's avatar

I will always hold the door. I think it is just an awesome thing to do. No more than 15’ out though. I love it when people still do this.

cookieman's avatar

I wish people would toss their coats over puddles for me.

girlofscience's avatar

@seVen: You’re lucky there’s no such thing as negative lurve. Awful answer.

cookieman's avatar

@seVen: If you’re initially good in grammar, you’ll spell well without thinking about it. If you’re not, you’ll be scrambling for the plural of “etiquette”.

Harp's avatar

Personally, I think seVen’s English is great considering he’s a non-native speaker

rossi_bear's avatar

@ harp.. I totally agree. Not everyone is perfect. And I wish that some would realize this!!

judochop's avatar

Sometimes on this site I just feel like I am not cool enough to hang with some of you.

rossi_bear's avatar

@judochop.. but don’t worry you are cool in my eyes!!! I too feel the same all to often.

dynamicduo's avatar

I have yet to see this coat-over-puddle thing occur in real life, and sincerely so, not simply done as a joke or gag. I’m convinced it’s one of those Hollywood-only things. Honestly I would be angry if a guy did this to me – do you really think I can’t walk around a puddle myself? Or that a splash of water on my waterproof boots would hurt me? Plus you’d have a soaked jacket at the end, completely useless for chivalrous lending if the girl gets cold!

cookieman's avatar

Not true. Poo Bears and Birds that know judo are very cool.

rossi_bear's avatar

@cprvite.. aww that is sweet of you to say! thank you!! :)

El_Cadejo's avatar

polite distances for holding the door

does anyone else get pissed when you hold the door for someone and they dont say thanks? I always have to fight the urge of slamming the door shut on those people

asmonet's avatar

For a regular person, about 5ft is my limit. If I know someone is coming my way with a heavy load I will wait for as long as is necessary to help them in. Nothing sucks more than lugging a package and seeing people ignore a simple act of kindness.

augustlan's avatar

If someone is following me in the ‘awkward zone’ I usually slow my pace to let them catch up a bit before I get to the door. I do think it puts the follower in an awkward place to see the door being held for them if they’re too far away. In certain instances it would be rude to the people inside the building to hold the door open for too long (only one door, and it’s cold outside). If the person has their hands full, I’ll actually stop at the door, wait for them to get near, and then open the door for them. If I haven’t noticed that someone’s behind me till I get to the door I do have that inner dialogue: “Should I hold it? Is he too far away? Argh!” Then it’s a toss-up. If he notices me, and picks up his pace I’ll hold it, if not I just go on in. I always say “thank you” when someone does it for me, and it does bum me out when people don’t do the same when I hold the door for them.

wilhel1812's avatar

@ uberbatman: that is hillarous!

shrubbery's avatar

<3 uberbatman for the shaun micallef clip

El_Cadejo's avatar

The Micallef Program was great, i think the drunk sketch is my favorite

galileogirl's avatar

As far as feeling awkward when someone holds the door for you, learn to accept small kindnesses gracefully.

Always hold the door for someone elderly or disabled.

Always hold the door for someone with children in tow.

Always hold the door for someone walking less than 10 feet behind you no matter which gender.

Guys, it never hurts to hold the door for a woman, as long as you don’t try to make it personal.

Always say thank you when someone holds the door for you.

rowenaz's avatar

Stop looking behind you? No issue.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

during my stint at jury duty last week, I held the door for everyone who came behind me down the stairs. I started out just doing it for one person, but decided to wait for everyone. I wasn’t in any hurry to go back into that courtroom. I always hold the door for other folks, it’s just being courteous, as long as they aren’t a mile away. :-)

toomuchcoffee911's avatar

There’s a game you can play; hold the door and see how many people you can get to speed up to try to get to the door.

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