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Appreciate kind gestures in business, social settings

By Cynthia Grosso

I was recently interviewed by Esquire magazine for a story that is supposed to be out in June or July.  The question was one concerning men, women and doors… this case, a revolving door…..

This interview prompted me to write a column on the rights of passage, as this is often a question I receive…”When and whom to open a door for in business.” If you have read my writings in the past, you know that I talk about business etiquette being based on military protocol and social etiquette based on chivalry.

If you are in a social situation…chivalry is not dead, as it is correct for a man to hold a door open for a woman.

In business, if a man and a woman approach a door, the one who arrives first should enter first. If a door is held in business by a man….it is suppose to be due to hierarchy….thereby if a man holds a door for a woman it is a result of her rank if they are colleagues, or due to the fact that he is the host. This is also supposed to work the same for a woman.

In business, if a man performs an act of chivalry by opening the door for a woman and the woman comments on how she can hold the door for herself….she is actually the one in need of the etiquette lesson.  It is not considered good manners to correct or embarrass anyone…the best move is just to say thank you and move on.

Whoever goes through the door first should hold the door for the person behind them, whether they know each other or not.

If you are approaching a revolving door in business, once again, whoever arrives there first….enters first.

In social situations, if the revolving door is in motion, a woman enters first. If it is stopped, a man enters first and starts the door in motion and then the woman enters in the section behind.

In a social situation, if a man and woman are walking down a street, the man walks to the outside of the woman closest to the street. This is said to originate from a time when street brawls and road hazards were common and men could better protect a woman.

On a bus, or a vehicle with a step, the woman enters first. When leaving, the man exits first in order to help a woman down the step. In business once again, whoever gets there first, enters and exits first.

In a business office building with an elevator, whoever arrives at the elevator first enters first and holds the door or the button for the door, for all to enter.  This rule is overridden by the fact that the host will allow his/her guest to enter and exit first. If you would rather take the escalator, the host will stand either up one-step or down one-step in order to lead, regardless of gender.

In social situations, a man lets a woman enter and exit the elevator first. An additional note for the elevator is the fact that it is considered polite to ask for your floor rather then reaching over someone. If you are going to the 4th floor, just say “4” please and then thank you.

In a social situation, a man should hold the car door for  a woman; however in business…you guessed it… a woman will open her own door.

In the south, however, we tend to follow the more traditional gentlemanly rules of etiquette….part of the charm of the south. I suggest to people…to just appreciate kind gestures.




Source: Article published in the Business review section of the Post and Courier

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