Who goes first?

Q. I am originally from California where revolving doors are a rarity. Now that I live in Chicago, I encounter them all the time. What is the proper protocol for who goes first? Does a man proceed before a woman to get the door moving, or does he always allow the woman to go first?

E. M., Chicago, IL

A. The old advice about revolving doors was that the man chivalrously stepped forward and went first to get the heavy door moving. In this day and age of electric-assisted everything, most revolving doors are already moving slowly and barely need a touch to make them move or glide easily. Therefore, the implication that the man entered first because the woman needed help getting it moving no longer applies. Typically, today, as a man and woman approach a revolving door, the person who gets to the door first steps in and gets it going. Especially at crowded rush hour times, there are too many people trying to get through the door for men to step aside so women can go first.

When a couple is out together, one of two things should happen: the man slows slightly, steps aside and lets the woman go first, or the man indicates to the woman that he’ll go first by saying something like, “May I get the door for you?”
The key with revolving doors is to communicate intentions ahead of time. The goal is to navigate getting through the door without creating an awkward situation where you’re stopped in front of the door saying to each other “You go first”, “No, you go first.” In addition, if you don’t communicate, that most awkward of moments will arrive when you find yourselves together in one section of the revolving door. Suddenly, you’re squished together doing a crazy half-step shuffle as the door moves forward.
Regardless of the situation, once you’re through the door, be considerate of the people behind you, and be sure to step aside to the right, away from the revolving door so they have a clear path to exit as well.

Jump To Comments


This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on