derryX Rant: Holding Doors

There is a good amount of disagreement over what the etiquette is for holding doors for people. This is obvious in reading the first few articles when you google “holding doors etiquette.”

I just want to throw my two cents in, because, in the past week or so, I’ve encountered a bunch of scenarios where the door holding etiquette was ambiguous and led to awkwardness. Each of the guidelines I will outline below stem from specific things that I’ve encountered.

The general policy to me is that, if you’re entering a door, and the person is far enough behind that when you let the door close, it would fully close, holding the door is optional. I would say this distance is about 15 feet or so. Anything within that distance, and you should highly consider holding the door, unless you are ahead of someone and you have to swipe an access card or input some code to gain access to a door. In this case, it is fully acceptable to not hold the door for the person behind you if you do not recognize them.

If there are multiple doors in succession, and you hold the door for someone, only one “thank you” from the recipient should be required. Many times, there are multiple doors in succession and it gets awkward to have someone keep saying “thank you” for just holding the door.

If someone holds a door for you, and there is a line in the establishment you are both entering, it is only right to allow that person ahead of you on the line.

If you have to, in any way, contort your body to hold a door for someone, just let it go. As human beings, everyone should be fully prepared to open their own door. Similarly, if someone does not hold a door for you, it is not the end of the world.

If you are holding a door for someone, please pay attention to that task and do not try to multi-task. For example, do not read a magazine and hold a door at the same time. If you insist upon multi-tasking while you hold a door, please allocate enough attention to the holding the door task so that the person behind you does not need to walk through you.

Here’s a really specific scenario. If the door swings toward the building, and you are exiting, do not feel obligated to hold the door. It will only cause the person behind you to bump into you.

So think about all of these. Absorb them. Let them become a part of your life.

As a fun game, try to think of the scenarios I found myself in to arrive at these guidelines. You’ll enjoy your day better if you do. I can assure you that nothing you come up with can be as awkward as what actually happened in every single case.


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5 thoughts on “derryX Rant: Holding Doors

  • darth

    I was exiting my laundry room last week holding about 60 to 70 lbs of my wifes laundry. As I’m leaving I see a lady coming towards the room with her own laundry. Had I not been holding that much laundry I would have held the door for her . . . Seeing as her arms were full. I did not feel I needed to because my arms were full. She sarcastically remarked to me “thanks” in which I replied “your welcome.”


  • Sue

    Awesome. Hopefully, people spread the word.


  • Bill

    Never put much thought into this. I just hold the door for people entering in front of me or exiting behind me. It’s not rocket science. It’s not policy. It’s common courtesy.


  • shannon

    Here’s an incredibly embarrassing story. I was walking into my office building there was a long line of people passing the door to the person behind them. The person in front of me let the door shut right in my face. I was pissed off! Another girl and I shared looks of equal disgust. But then I passed my offender in the hallway.. just to notice she only had one arm and it was holding her bags. Since then I’ve assume if the person in front of me doesn’t hold the door open, maybe they’ve got a legit reason.

    I hold the door open for anyone directly behind me. I’ll go out of my way hold the door for the elderly, someone with their arms full, a parent pushing a stroller or anyone that looks like they need the help.



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