How to Deal with a Doorway Stalemate

by Staff - Original publish date: January 18, 2012

Dear Annette,

I got into a predicament at lunch today with a female companion: each of us holding opposite sides of a double door, each waiting for the other to enter first. It felt like an episode of those singing chipmunks crooning, "After you!" "No, after you!" And to top it off, three or four parties scrambled in ahead of us while we had it out. Annette, please spare me future embarrassment by spelling out the rules of the doors.


Dear Chip,

I can't remember the last time I opened a door for myself - I have People to do that for me. But I can certainly recall the pleasure I felt the last time I opened the door for someone else.

Just last evening on the way out of a three-star restaurant in Santa Monica, I encountered a man who looked despondent, as though he had just proposed marriage and been rejected. It was all he could do to put one foot in front of the other. When I held the door for him, he seemed to perk up and continue on his way. Later, when he's feeling like himself again, no doubt he'll discover the calling card I slipped into his coat pocket and hand-deliver a warm thank-you note.

Help someone through a conventional door by opening it and allowing the other person to walk through first. Help someone through a revolving door by going through first so that it is easier for the other person to push.

In an elevator, the person who gets on last gets off first. Otherwise you have a Marx Brothers movie.

Once your party is through the door, move a few steps further, away from the flow of traffic.

Offering assistance to a stranger can establish a human bond. Offering assistance to a friend or colleague establishes the contours of the group culture. The gracious person accepts the courtesy and repays it with more courtesy. Gentlemen should not reject a lady’s offer to hold a door; she is extending kindness according to the golden rule. Let her be kind as you would be kind.

Stay fabulous,