Avoiding Awkward Situations

Doors – Push or Pull?

It seems I face this difficult question every day of my life. Most of the time it’s okay: I’m with friends, I feel safe and I can usually make the right decision. It’s when I’m alone or with someone I’m trying to impress with my door opening skills that the problems begin. Here are some ways I’ve learned to avoid this dreaded situation.

Pay Attention:

Always be on the look out for signs. Signs are the best! They tell you exactly what you need to do. Just remember to keep your head held high and your eyes open. Why, you ask? For one thing, you’ll look confident. But even more importantly, you’ll be able to read the sign. Signs are awesome.

Be Gentle:

If you aren’t 100% sure which way to open the door, try to check it out discreetly by gently pushing or pulling it. You’ve got a 50-50 chance, sure, but act like you aren’t even thinking about the odds. If you guess wrong, DON’T start crying! It will give you away. Just pretend you changed your mind about using the door. There’s nothing awkward about being indecisive.


Seek out places that have the best kind of doors: swinging doors! They go both ways so you can eliminate the guesswork. Just do what you feel is right at the time.  Be yourself. If you want to push, go for it. If you want to pull, pull to your heart’s content. This door invites you to do whatever you want. This door is even better than signs.

No Tears:

No one is perfect. You won’t open doors correctly 100% of the time. So when you do fail to make the right decision, just smile and laugh it off. Especially if you have just had a job interview, for example. The worst thing you can do is fall to the ground crying and say, “I can’t do anything right!” Instead, turn toward the interviewer, wink and say, “See, even your door doesn’t want me to leave.” Then be sure to remember whether you pushed or pulled the door so that you don’t make the same mistake, because that line only works once.

Images via cleansealdoors.com and mydoorsign.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1080830127 Beth Curry

    I hate those really heavy doors that when you try the gentle approach it doesn’t move either way. :(

  • http://www.stilljennifer.com Jennifer Still

    This is my fav thing pretty much ever, just FYI.

  • http://www.facebook.com/onesmartsandwich Rebecca Lynn

    this is probably the most helpful essay i’ve read in at least 17 days. i always have this problem. i really like your approach–the test– and your advice to stay away from tears. thank you for being brave enough to share this with all of us.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gabby.ambrosio Gabby Ambrosio

    its true, i have found that winking is the solution to all of my problems/awkwarad situations.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ashley.lynn.cook Ashley Lynn Cook

    I hate it when the door feels locked and I end up looking like a goober just because the A/C or fan or whatnot is vacuum sealing it shut! I turn around and look at my friend/husband/whomever is with me and say: “It’s locked.” “No, it’s not.”, then they open it! Arg! lol

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1577472553 Deirdre K McCormick

    What does it say about me….er, um, I mean, someone who has worked in the same building for over 6 years, and STILL can’t remember whether to push or pull the door? I’m to the point now where I just get angry, and utter a few expletives, like it’s the doors fault. And I’m okay with that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=528004179 Jane Murphy

    Wow. I was just thinking about this today when I entered a restaurant for lunch! I realised that I ALWAYS look up at the door frame to see if the door is sitting in front or behind the little bit of wood/metal. That’s how I do it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=164900905 Martha Shaffer Golea

    Also look for the hinges! If they’re on the outside where you can see them, it’s most likely a pull door. If you can’t see them, chances are it’s a pusher…or an extra tricky new fashioned door with invisible hinges. Those are the worst because they trick you into confidentally pushing and it’s extra embarrassing because you most likely left a face print when you ran into it…

  • http://www.facebook.com/bella.lioness Linda Bentley

    I call this the “Push /Pull Syndrome” and it literally happens to me all the time and I never ever get it right the first time.

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