Learning the Ins and Outs of Door Etiquette

“You, first.” “No, you.” Have you ever bumped into someone in a doorway or done an awkward two-step dance as you navigated your way through a doorway? It’s a small moment, but the simple and correct use of doors can help you stand out—in a good way.

Learning how to open and hold different types of doors correctly not only reduces uncomfortable interactions; it may be noticed by others and contribute to your future success. Let’s get to the details of door etiquette.

Doors that open inward (to the interior): Walk through the door and from the inside hold the door open for the next person, remembering to make eye contact and say “Hello” if you do not know the person behind you or “Please” if you do. In both situations, after entering and turning to hold the door open, extend an open palm to let the next person know they are invited to enter. Then, carefully allow the door to close after the last person has entered.

Do not push the door open and then stand in front of it on the outside, holding it open with your arm extended. This approach allows little room for the person behind you to enter—as your arm or body holds the door but is in the way. Can you say #awkward?

Doors that open outward (to the exterior): Pull the door open with your right hand and stand holding the door open and out of the way for either the person or group you are with or the next person behind you. Remember to make eye contact and say, “Please” with an open left palm motion to let others know to enter first. Then pass through the door, carefully allowing it to close.

For non-touch, automatic opening doors: If you are the host and arrive to the door that is opening automatically, stand aside, saying, “Please” with an open palm motion and allow those you are with to pass through first. If you are a guest, follow the lead of the host and remember to say, “Thank you” as you pass and wait in the interior for the remaining party members to enter.

Every action and interaction has consequences or rewards. Believe it or not, the door is a tool for your future success…just make sure you know how to use it correctly and that it doesn’t stand in your way.

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