Author Topic: Door is closed, light is on... do you knock first?  (Read 7833 times)

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WillyNilly

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Re: Door is closed, light is on... do you knock first?
« Reply #45 on: March 13, 2013, 04:02:24 PM »
I guess either method is etiquettely acceptable.  Personally, if I'm in the bathroom, I'd much rather someone just try the door, realize it's locked and wait, then knock and force me to have to yell out that I'm in there.  I also always just try the door handle in public restrooms...though, I guess now that I think about it, if I'm in someone's home (like for a party), I always knock at the bathroom (I've noticed that for some reason, not everyone locks bathroom doors in homes and after walking in on more than one person, I've learned my lesson).

Well not all home bathrooms have locks on the door. Most of the homes I've lived in have not.


Maybe it's a regional thing, but I've never lived anywhere where the bathrooms in the home, apartment, dorm, etc. didn't lock, unless it was broken, of course.

I think its either and 'old house' thing or a 'rental' thing. I know when I was a kid my grandma told me bathrooms don't have locks so little kids couldn't lock themselves in. And true enough in my own home, we did have a lock, but it was a hook-n-eye not a doorknob lock and it was quite high up so as a very little kid I didn't even register it. As far as rentals - well non-locking doorknobs are cheaper then locking ones, so landlords might cheap out. Living in NYC my whole life, many of my homes and my friends & families home were either older (well over 50-80 years) or rentals with cheap landlords.

In non-homes restrooms always lock though, unless its broken... or a few bars where I'm thinking they'd had issues with people doing things they shouldn't in stalls and so the locks were removed (in my brother's high school all the stall doors had been removed in the boy's room due to problems) etc.

Onyx_TKD

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Re: Door is closed, light is on... do you knock first?
« Reply #46 on: March 13, 2013, 05:24:39 PM »
I guess either method is etiquettely acceptable.  Personally, if I'm in the bathroom, I'd much rather someone just try the door, realize it's locked and wait, then knock and force me to have to yell out that I'm in there.  I also always just try the door handle in public restrooms...though, I guess now that I think about it, if I'm in someone's home (like for a party), I always knock at the bathroom (I've noticed that for some reason, not everyone locks bathroom doors in homes and after walking in on more than one person, I've learned my lesson).

Well not all home bathrooms have locks on the door. Most of the homes I've lived in have not.


Maybe it's a regional thing, but I've never lived anywhere where the bathrooms in the home, apartment, dorm, etc. didn't lock, unless it was broken, of course.

I think it is a regional/cultural thing. Where I grew up in the USA, some home bathroom door had locks, some didn't. The norm was to knock on the door unless you knew for certain that it was unoccupied. Plus, many people leave the door at least partially open when the bathroom is unoccupied, so often the closed door itself indicates that the bathroom is likely occupied. There, in someone's home, you can't count on the fact that the bathroom door will have a lock at all and especially can't count on the fact that the occupant will lock the door. Trying the door handle instead of knocking is likely to result in you walking in on someone.

OTOH, when I lived in Germany, all bathroom doors had locks and they were kept closed at all times, whether occupied or unoccupied. There, you could count on the fact that an occupied bathroom would be locked. However, all of the public restroom stalls there had the built-in vacant/occupied indicator in the door handle, so there was no need to jiggle the handle.

[Off Topic] I also found that the people I worked with in Germany didn't expect people to knock and wait for a response at closed office doors either. In my workplace, if you needed to go into someone's office, the door would be closed (no one left their office doors open), and the standard procedure was to walk right in. I knocked lightly as notice I was coming in, but I don't recall whether the Germans in the office even did that. This applied even walking into my boss's office. Administrative offices at the university seemed to follow the same principle. Not realizing this, I think I and another American exchange student irritated several people by waiting for a response to our knocks before entering. I'm not sure whether this is a general rule in Germany or it was local--door-knocking customs unfortunately were not covered by our exchange program briefings!
ETA: If anyone is interested in comparing regional variations in door-knocking customs, I just started a thread here.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2013, 06:02:30 PM by Onyx_TKD »

Margo

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Re: Door is closed, light is on... do you knock first?
« Reply #47 on: March 13, 2013, 05:49:33 PM »
Huh, this is kind of interesting.  :)  I'm a little surprised to see so many people voting for "try the knob", because I was always taught that this was rude and that we were supposed to knock.  I'm sort of wondering if I received skewed info all these years.

However, I do prefer a knock to a door handle jiggle.  In fact, someone jiggling the doorknob and/or trying to get in feels invasive to me, and always makes me somewhat indignant.

Thanks for saying this. I was beginning to think I was the only one who was taught this way. Like you, I always feel as if someone jiggling the doorknob is either trying to get in, or trying to make me hurry up. A knock just feels like they are trying to find out if the room is occupied.

That's interesting, as to me it feels exactly the opposite! I think it's because knocking suggests that you think someone is there to answer, so it feels more as through the person outside is trying to hurry you up.

But I don't think either is wrong or impolite. And I would find it bizarre to be lectured on the subject by a coworker.

steelstress

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Re: Door is closed, light is on... do you knock first?
« Reply #48 on: March 13, 2013, 06:43:31 PM »
OP here.

Oh my... didn't think this would garner so many responses.

First, the lecture.  Did you take that literally?  It was more like... if the door doesn't open when you first turn the the knob, STOP TRYING to open the door!  Knock before trying to barge in.  Doesn't bother me to say... occupied.  So what?

To me, I always knocked... at home, public, work, other people's home, wherever.  You just don't know when the door is ** REALLY ** locked.  Would be embarrassing for both parties.  That's primarily what/why I was taught.  Makes sense to me.  Knocking implies someone is trying to see if it's occupied, vs barging in only to find out it is... particularly in a public restroom (like a coffee shop).

By the way... I forget who said it and I won't bother to look back... a "lecture" doesn't imply emotional problems.   ::)  A bit over there, isn't it?  I don't particularly enjoy having to explain something so... obvious.

Makes me wonder... all you knob-turners... is that what you do as a guest in other people's homes?

WillyNilly

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Re: Door is closed, light is on... do you knock first?
« Reply #49 on: March 13, 2013, 06:49:34 PM »
OP here.

Oh my... didn't think this would garner so many responses.

First, the lecture.  Did you take that literally?  It was more like... if the door doesn't open when you first turn the the knob, STOP TRYING to open the door!  Knock before trying to barge in.  Doesn't bother me to say... occupied.  So what?

To me, I always knocked... at home, public, work, other people's home, wherever.  You just don't know when the door is ** REALLY ** locked.  Would be embarrassing for both parties.  That's primarily what/why I was taught.  Makes sense to me.  Knocking implies someone is trying to see if it's occupied, vs barging in only to find out it is... particularly in a public restroom (like a coffee shop).

By the way... I forget who said it and I won't bother to look back... a "lecture" doesn't imply emotional problems.   ::)  A bit over there, isn't it? I don't particularly enjoy having to explain something so... obvious.

Makes me wonder... all you knob-turners... is that what you do as a guest in other people's homes?

What was obvious? That you wrote lecture but didn't mean lecture (still not sure what you meant) or that one should knock?  Because the 47 responses before you make it pretty clear many people don't think knocking is the "obvious" thing to do!

Yvaine

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Re: Door is closed, light is on... do you knock first?
« Reply #50 on: March 13, 2013, 06:52:11 PM »
OP here.

Oh my... didn't think this would garner so many responses.

First, the lecture.  Did you take that literally?  It was more like... if the door doesn't open when you first turn the the knob, STOP TRYING to open the door!  Knock before trying to barge in.  Doesn't bother me to say... occupied.  So what?

To me, I always knocked... at home, public, work, other people's home, wherever.  You just don't know when the door is ** REALLY ** locked.  Would be embarrassing for both parties.  That's primarily what/why I was taught.  Makes sense to me.  Knocking implies someone is trying to see if it's occupied, vs barging in only to find out it is... particularly in a public restroom (like a coffee shop).

By the way... I forget who said it and I won't bother to look back... a "lecture" doesn't imply emotional problems.   ::)  A bit over there, isn't it?  I don't particularly enjoy having to explain something so... obvious.

Makes me wonder... all you knob-turners... is that what you do as a guest in other people's homes?

This seems a little unnecessarily snarky, but to address your final point--in homes, there are usually other cues. Often the door will be open when the room is empty and closed when it's occupied. Or in a small enough group, you know someone's in the bathroom because they just excused themselves to go there two minutes ago and they're not back yet!  ;D And even if you do end up having to knock (because it's true that I don't assume a working lock in a home the way I do in a workplace), you presumably know the person in there so it's less awkward to talk briefly through the door.

Moray

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Re: Door is closed, light is on... do you knock first?
« Reply #51 on: March 13, 2013, 07:10:38 PM »
OP, I'm sure you didn't mean to, but your follow-up post is coming off as defensive, and a little condescending.

I think it's probably just best to lock the door to your office bathroom and accept that some people prefer to gently try the door and some people prefer to knock. As long as the door's locked, you're okay, you know? If one of your coworkers doesn't lock all the time, I'm sure they'll pick up the habit in short order  >:D
« Last Edit: March 13, 2013, 07:12:29 PM by Moray »
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Re: Door is closed, light is on... do you knock first?
« Reply #52 on: March 13, 2013, 07:11:59 PM »
OP here.

Oh my... didn't think this would garner so many responses.

First, the lecture.  Did you take that literally?  It was more like... if the door doesn't open when you first turn the the knob, STOP TRYING to open the door!  Knock before trying to barge in.  Doesn't bother me to say... occupied.  So what?

To me, I always knocked... at home, public, work, other people's home, wherever.  You just don't know when the door is ** REALLY ** locked.  Would be embarrassing for both parties.  That's primarily what/why I was taught.  Makes sense to me.  Knocking implies someone is trying to see if it's occupied, vs barging in only to find out it is... particularly in a public restroom (like a coffee shop).

By the way... I forget who said it and I won't bother to look back... a "lecture" doesn't imply emotional problems.   ::)  A bit over there, isn't it?  I don't particularly enjoy having to explain something so... obvious.

Makes me wonder... all you knob-turners... is that what you do as a guest in other people's homes?

I find it interesting that after you get a slew of responses, many of which disagree with your original premise (and nearly all of which agree that it is not acceptable to 'lecture' other adults about their bathroom habits), your response is to get snippy and snarky in return.

Why wouldn't we take it literally? You said you lectured them. That's totally inappropriate for you to do. You've also conveniently changed the content of the lecture now from 'you should knock, not jiggle' to 'if you jiggle once and it's locked, don't KEEP jiggling'. I think most people would agree that *after* one has determined the door is locked, additional jiggling is inappropriate. But that's not what your OP said.

And I don't care whether you 'lectured' in a long drawn out diatribe or 'lectured' in a one sentence admonishment, it's still inappropriate to treat other adults as though you have the corner on proper bathroom habits. As evidenced by this thread, there's clearly not a consensus. And you are the person who used the word 'lecture', no one else put that on you. If you didn't intend to imply the parental or scolding connotations that word implies, perhaps you should not have used it.

Jocelyn

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Re: Door is closed, light is on... do you knock first?
« Reply #53 on: March 13, 2013, 07:17:12 PM »
There's also the tradition in many families that a bathroom door isn't locked ; some bathrooms are even arranged so that a person could have privacy on the toilet while someone else is using the sink. Or if you're in the shower, and someone else needs the toilet, they can come on in. Particular necessities in large families in one-bathroom houses! In those cases, everyone learns to knock before entering, and at least to let the occupant know you're about to invade their privacy if it's completely necessary.
However, if a bathroom is a half-bath at work, no one is likely to want to share it with a co-worker! So locking the door is the right thing to do.
Another thing is...if the bathroom is located so it could serve multiple people, the occupant really doesn't know if ONE person is jiggling the knob, or if Sue jiggles it, then goes back to her desk to wait, and then Mary tries the door... Personally I prefer the brief jiggle over the necessity of having to talk through the door. And I've given it a multiple jiggle, as people in our building would occasionally commandeer the bathroom as an extra-large phone booth. You'd hear them chattering away in there, and it was quite annoying to be needing to use the facilities, and having to wait while they made their phone calls.

Sharnita

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Re: Door is closed, light is on... do you knock first?
« Reply #54 on: March 13, 2013, 07:30:26 PM »
OP, since it is an issue that bugs you, do you think you could get a "Do Not Disturb" sign to hang on the doorknob when you go in and that you could remove when you exited the bathroom? That way you won't be bothered.

In general, I think the feelings on this is split and so your extreme irritation is your issue, not theirs.

katycoo

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Re: Door is closed, light is on... do you knock first?
« Reply #55 on: March 13, 2013, 08:27:06 PM »
I knock over trying the handle because:

1. Like another poster, I've accidentally walked in on someone who did not proeprly lock the door (presumably in error)

2. I prefer responding "Just a minute" than the idea of someone walking in on ME if the lock fails.

Outdoor Girl

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Re: Door is closed, light is on... do you knock first?
« Reply #56 on: March 13, 2013, 08:33:40 PM »
In a private home, I will knock.  The chances that someone left the light on are less, I think.

But in a public place, including a workplace, I would try the handle.  Most washrooms have doors that close automatically so there is no way to know if it is empty or occupied.  I remember one restaurant that had a sign posted:  Please knock; the lock isn't working properly.  They finally installed a slide lock on the inside of the door.
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cass2591

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Re: Door is closed, light is on... do you knock first?
« Reply #57 on: March 13, 2013, 10:13:35 PM »
OP:

You said First, the lecture.  Did you take that literally?  It was more like... if the door doesn't open when you first turn the the knob, STOP TRYING to open the door!  Knock before trying to barge in.  Doesn't bother me to say... occupied.  So what?

Literally means literally, not figuratively and if you don't mean literally, don't use it.

To me, I always knocked... at home, public, work, other people's home, wherever.  You just don't know when the door is ** REALLY ** locked.  Would be embarrassing for both parties.  That's primarily what/why I was taught.  Makes sense to me.  Knocking implies someone is trying to see if it's occupied, vs barging in only to find out it is... particularly in a public restroom (like a coffee shop).

Not everyone is taught the same thing and chastising those who disagree with you doesn't give a good impression. If you have a view that's different from others, it would behoove you to use tact.

As for a private home, personally I would knock because most people I know leave their bathroom doors open.
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Moray

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Re: Door is closed, light is on... do you knock first?
« Reply #58 on: March 14, 2013, 12:57:53 AM »
Succinctly put, on all counts. Private homes are not the same as offices and thus have different rules.
Utah

Miss Tickle

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Re: Door is closed, light is on... do you knock first?
« Reply #59 on: March 14, 2013, 01:06:01 AM »
Succinctly put, on all counts. Private homes are not the same as offices and thus have different rules.

Pod.
It never occurred to me that an office bathroom door would ever stand open; you'd find out it was occupied by trying the knob and, being Canadian, apologize if it was locked.