What is the polite way to show your appreciation when someone waits for you to enter an entrance before they do?They usually say "after you"? What I am supposed to answer?

  • 3
    Of course "No, after you!" :-) And then it all ends up in a Monty Python sketch. – Peter - Reinstate Monica Feb 17 '16 at 11:00
  • Something that does not result in an indefinite loop of politeness. "Thank you!" should do the job. – lejonet Feb 17 '16 at 14:04
  • Yeah.That's what I thought as well. It is mainly to colleagues and contact persons of other companies. – Maryam Feb 17 '16 at 21:51

You basically have two choices

Thank you
Thank you that's very kind

and continue walking in, or saying

No, please, after you
Please, no, after you

stopping before entering, extending your arm to hold the door open, and then holding the door while the person previously holding the door for you passes through.

Protocol dictates that if a person has been holding the door, say for a large party to go through, you would relieve that person of such duty, if you are suitably able, when it becomes your turn to pass. The other person may or may not be travelling in the same direction as you are.

Protocol also dictates that the least burdened holds the door, with the exception of
Chivalrous custom which dictates Ladies First except when going through revolving doors

  • 2
    Choice #2 can lead to the Gentleman's Deadlock, where both parties stand repeating "No, after you...", "after you, I insist...", "no please, after YOU..." and so on until the crack of doom. – Oscar Bravo Feb 16 '16 at 18:19
  • @OwenBoyle Crack of doom is an interesting phrase I've never heard before. – Era Feb 16 '16 at 21:37
  • 1
    @OwenBoyle That would be a livelock in computer scientists' terms instead of deadlock :) – Derek 朕會功夫 Feb 17 '16 at 2:14
  • 1
    common sense also asks that the person exiting goes through the door first, and that the person that has to pull the door to open it holds it to the person on the other side. those can be contradictory, though. – njzk2 Feb 17 '16 at 5:17
  • In the US, public building code dictates that entry doorways open outwards for obvious safety reasons. Residential doors are allowed to open inwards for security reasons due to hinge placement and lower traffic volumes. – Peter Feb 17 '16 at 5:31

"Thank you" is always the polite way to voice your appreciation in English.

  • You could also say, adding a measure of jocularity, "Why, Thank You!" – user30286 Feb 18 '16 at 18:35

The correct is to say "thank you" and to go through.

Insisting that a woman, older person, etc., go through before you, when they have expressed a preference that you go first, would be less respectful than honoring their preference.

I once almost got into a deadlock situation in an elevator with a distinguished computer scientist (Turing Award winner) when I was a graduate student. When the elevator door opened, I automatically paused to let my superior exit first, while he, an older gentleman, waited for me to exit, my being a woman. As soon as I realized what was going on, I exited, thinking that more respectful than insisting on my preferred protocol.

  • 3
    And let me guess, you ended up trying to eat dinner with him but no one could ever get two forks at the same time? – Eric Lippert Feb 17 '16 at 14:36
  • @EricLippert No, it wasn't Dijkstra. :-) – Ellen Spertus Feb 17 '16 at 21:47

If it's a friend and you want to tease them, you can decline their offer, and hold the door for them, by saying something like,

"no, no, after you, age before beauty"

  • 4
    This can be extremely cheeky and potentially very offensive, especially to female friends. I would be very careful about this - they would have to be very close friends and have the right sense of humour. Otherwise you'll just seem like a smarmy jerk. – J... Feb 18 '16 at 14:31

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