Opening A Door For Someone: 12 Do’s and Don’ts

Opening A Door For Someone
Take the lead and approach the door first and check the swing direction to avoid accidents. Use your arm to hold the door, not your foot. Hold the door for everyone, not just based on age or gender. Be disability-friendly, culturally sensitive and offer assistance when needed.

1. Mind Your Surroundings

The first step in opening a door for someone is to be aware of your surroundings. Looking around to see who’s nearby can help prevent awkward situations or inconveniencing others. 

Is there someone struggling with a door? Are they carrying something heavy or pushing a stroller? Is there someone in a wheelchair? Being aware of your surroundings and offering assistance shows kindness to others and brightens the world.

2. Take The Lead

woman opening the door for the delivery guy
Woman opening door for a delivery guy

Approaching the door first is polite and shows respect for the person you’re holding the door for. By taking the lead, you demonstrate that you’re aware of their presence and are willing to help them. This small act can go a long way in making someone feel valued and appreciated.

 3. Check The Swing Direction

Have you ever tried holding a door open for someone, only to find out that the door swings the opposite way? It can be awkward and sometimes even dangerous, especially if the door hits someone. You can avoid this mistake by checking the direction of the door swing.

You can check a door swing direction in several ways. If the door reads pull, it’s outswing; if it reads push, it’s inswing. An inswing door swings forward, and an outswing door swings towards you. 

Next, stand with your back to the hinges to determine if a door is left or right-handed. If the door panel swings right, it’s a right-hand door. If the panel swings left, it’s a left-hand door. Knowing how door swings can help prevent hitting someone or causing obstacles limiting movement

4. Arm, Not Foot

Holding the door with your arm gives you better control over the door’s movement. Using your foot to hold open the door can lead to the door swinging out of control, which can be inconvenient, potentially dangerous, and lead to injury.

5. Hold The Door For Everyone

Holding the door open for someone isn’t about gender roles, age, or race; it’s common courtesy. If you’re the first person to reach the door and see someone behind you, hold the door open for them. It doesn’t matter if the next person is a young man or an older person. 

When you hold the door open for someone, you’re creating a more inclusive and welcoming environment. It’s a simple act of kindness that can create a positive ripple effect.

6. Don’t Overdo It

When you hold the door for someone, the key is to find the right balance. You don’t want to let go of the door too soon, leaving the person struggling to catch it before it slams shut, causing the person to feel rushed or obligated to hurry through. On the other hand, you also don’t want to hold the door for too long.

You can gauge how long you should hold the door by paying attention to the other person’s pace. If they are walking quickly, hold the door for a shorter time. If they are walking slowly, hold the door for a bit longer. 

7. Don’t Rush

Getting caught up in our thoughts is easy in today’s fast-paced world. But taking a moment to acknowledge the kind actions of others can help us to slow down and appreciate the small moments in life.

When someone holds the door open for you, show your gratitude and respect by acknowledging their gesture.

Rushing through the door without a nod or a “thank you” is impolite and can also make the person holding the door feel unappreciated. 

8. Say “Thank You”

By saying “thank you,” you acknowledge the person’s effort and show gratitude for their kindness. It’s a small but powerful act of appreciation that can make someone feel valued and appreciated. 

It can be easy to forget the importance of small acts of kindness, like holding the door open for someone. By saying “thank you” and making eye contact when someone holds the door for you, you do your part to keep that kindness alive.

9. Avoid Assumptions

Don’t assume someone needs help based on age, gender, or appearance. Just because someone is elderly or appears to be struggling with a heavy load doesn’t necessarily mean they need assistance. Assuming that someone of a certain gender cannot open a door is outdated and disrespectful.

Always ask if someone needs assistance before assuming. If they decline your offer, don’t take it personally. Respect their decision and move on. Opening a door for someone is about showing kindness and respect to others.

10. Respect Personal Space

Knowing how close you are to them is important when holding the door open for someone. Standing too close can make them feel uncomfortable or trapped, especially if they’re already anxious or rushed. 

Stand back far enough so that the person you’re holding the door for can comfortably enter or exit the building without feeling crowded. This may require you to step back or hold the door with your arm fully extended.

Pay attention to nonverbal cues. If the person you’re holding the door for seems hesitant or unsure, ask if they would like you to hold it or if they would prefer to do it themselves. 

11. Disability-friendly

It’s essential to be aware that many people live with disabilities that can make everyday tasks, such as opening doors, challenging. And while they may not always need help, you should be considerate and offer assistance when needed.

When approaching a building, check if there are any accessibility features such as automatic doors, ramps, or elevators. If you notice any, point them out to the person you’re with, as they may not be aware that the features are there.

If you encounter someone struggling with a door handle or knob, approach them calmly and ask if they need help. It’s good manners to offer assistance without being pushy. 

12. Cultural Sensitivity

As simple as holding a door may seem, it can be a complex social gesture influenced by cultural norms. Cultural norms can vary widely from region to region and even from one social group to another. 

For example, in some cultures, it is customary for men to open car doors for women, while in others, it is outdated.

To avoid offending someone or making them uncomfortable, it’s important to be aware of the cultural norms of the people around you. If you’re unsure about a particular custom, don’t hesitate to ask or to observe what others are doing.


Tabitha is a curious and enthusiastic writer who believes in the power of words and the importance of good manners. Etiquette is her passion, and she enjoys sharing her knowledge with others. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her family.

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