Saturday, September 21, 2013

Social Etiquette on Holding a Door or Elevator

Good afternoon to you all. I hope the day has found you all very well and continues to get even better. It's been about a two weeks since my last post, which is about three months less than the interval between posts prior to that; I consider it a rather small, but positive victory. Last night I realized I need to get a new post going and feeling some writer's block, I crowd-sourced for topics. Unfortunately it was quite late however I did get this one little interesting response. I said I would write about anything and I guess this contributor thought she was being funny but here we go nonetheless.

So what is the social etiquette on the length of time that one should hold open a door or elevator for someone else. It seems like a simple enough topic to discuss, throw out a subjective time from my own personal experiences and voila! We have a blog post...but that'd be far too simple for someone like myself who likes to examine even the simplest of  notions in depth. I've actually come up with a few different variables that can potentially change the length of time you wait holding a door for someone.

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The first thing I examined was the 'who'. Who am I holding this for? Is it a friend? A stranger? A family member? An acquaintance? A celebrity? This is a very important question. It would seem far more likely that we would hold the door for a shorter amount of time for a stranger rather than a family member; or maybe it's the reverse for you. The individual(s) and their personal connection to us can subjectively alter the length of time one might hold a door open for someone. Personally, I am fairly equitable on a day to day basis on who I hold doors for and how long. It's an act of kindness, however small.
The next thing to cross my mind is distance and speed. How far away is the person? How quickly are they moving? These are two interesting questions because they impact our decision to hold or not to hold a door and how long we might hold it for. As an example, if I am holding an elevator door for someone walking from 15 feet away and they are moving particularly slow, I will hold the door as long as necessary if I have already started to. If however I see that the door will be closed long before someone arrives I may just continue on my way. When it comes to elevators I have a general rule of thumb: if I don't see you coming towards the elevator, I hit the 'close door' button; if I see you coming and it is obvious I will hold the door as long as it takes for you to get in (even if I get annoyed that you're walking at a sloth's pace). 

Something else that will impact the length of time I might hold a door is my own personal disposition. I am a human being. I have emotions and sometimes those emotions are negative. If I am in a particularly negative mood I might not hold a door or elevator for anyone for any reason regardless of anything else. We've all had days like that and it's hard to get out of the negativity. Interestingly enough, someone holding a door or elevator for you can be just the right amount of kindness to eradicate the bad mood.

So I still have yet to address her actual question which was: how long should one actually hold open a door or an elevator for someone else? I look at them as two different questions because I have different 'rules' for each type of hold. When it comes to a door, I will not hold it open or try to hold it open if it looks like it will take longer than 15-20 seconds for the individual to get to the door to walk through. The only exception to this rule is for those with disabilities that impair movement; I will wait for minutes. For an elevator I have kind of already explained how I do that so the actual amount of time I would hold it for varies. Pretty much if you're out of sight, I'm leaving you behind when it comes to an elevator. People occasionally get annoyed because if someone starts coming to catch the elevator after already having waited for someone before them, I will continue to wait.

I would personally suggest, Amanda (the contributor) that you use your own best judgment however I will leave you with this:

People react positively to kindness even in the most foul of moods. Doing something kind for someone for the sake of being kind does not come with a time limit. Social etiquette is a subjective term and no official paper has been written in stone on what is good or what is bad. We have ideas, some personal and some public that influence what we perceive to be good or bad social etiquette but what it really comes down to is this: do you want to hold the door/elevator because society has imposed this idea in your head or do you want to do it out of kindness. Ultimately what you decide will determine how long you hold for.

And with that, we shall bring this post to an end. I am hoping to not wait so long for the next one but as I mentioned, the frequency between this and the last post is a vast improvement for me. I look forward to decreasing the interval between posts. As always, thank you all for reading and double thanks to those who share. Have a wonderful day and love one another.