It isn’t hard. It feels hard! When you walk through a door right before someone else, you need to hold that door open for them, or else you’re rude. But if they’re a little too far behind you, they have to hurry to catch up, and then (as Redditor Voldetitty recently pointed out) you’re actually being annoying. At some nebulous distance there is a phase change from “don’t hold the door open” to “hold the door open”, and misjudging it will ruin your life for as much as five seconds.
Originally we were going to calculate that distance. But of course it doesn’t precisely exist. Even if it did, you couldn’t judge it every time by doing the maths. Instead, you need to plan ahead. Just a few seconds ahead.
When you’re in the moment, you can feel a too-long door-hold approaching. Next time it’s happening, and you start panicking, you will remember this blog post, and you will do this:
- Slow down just a touch. Not too much or they’ll catch up too early. Trust your body.
- Turn — subtly — and smile at the person behind you. Don’t be weird, just pay an iota more attention to them than you usually would. You’re buying them another second or two to catch up without hurrying up.
- Make the crucial decision: Do you go through the door first, or do you hold it open? Go with your gut. This usually comes down to which way the door opens.
- You’re done. It’s really not that complicated.
Practise with a friend! You obviously won’t, because that is ridiculous, but it’s nice to think that someone somewhere will spend a few minutes opening doors with a partner, because they’d probably actually get better at it. Just practise in your mind. That’s good enough.
This is big stuff in the Lifehacker office, where the main entrance involves opening two doors, climbing up a staircase, then sometimes opening a third door. This process also involves key fobs. Once you hold the first door open for someone, you’re locked in for a whole adventure together.
This has forced the more conscientious workers to pace our stair-climbing and devise light conversational gambits that can be effortlessly broken off at the end of the three-door tango.
For more overthinking of the door issue, I leave you with a Micallef P(r)ogram(me) comedy sketch, shared by Redditor l_l-l-l_l. It’s surprisingly practical!