Review: An Unsuccessful Door Knock


brass door knocker

note: a single knock requires no rhythm, but could be disturbing. Rhythm aides are available.

What’s on test: Failing to affect a stylistic rhythm of any kind when manually vibrating the door of an apartment or house with the hand or knuckles in order to announce one’s presence to the occupant.

What we found:

Pros:  Our testers found that an individual’s apparent inability to knock a door properly could be as a result of that individual over-thinking both the knock itself as well as the impact that that knock will have on whoever happens to be behind the door. An overly stylistic knock could insinuate a disproportionate degree of excitement on the part of the knocker, one which the occupant may be unprepared for. Similarly, an over-confident knock could be misconstrued as an attempt to assert some authority over the occupant, easily leading to an air of defensiveness and embattlement on the part of the latter. Thus, a botched knock, deliberate or otherwise, could be seen as the most diplomatic way to announce oneself with one’s fist.

We also felt that being unprepared for the knock suggested that one had not factored in any kind of instance where a formal greeting or announcement would be necessary, insinuating a presumption that the unsuccessful knocker’s relationship with the occupant was fluid and relaxed (though one which still had some call for physically closed doors, for safety etc.) This lack of preparation could equally suggest that the performer was comfortable enough to be able to dispense with affected or fancy contemporary knocks, and balanced enough not to resort to screaming through the door.

Finally, it was generally agreed that knowing how to knock a door was a fairly simple thing to learn, and as such was usually worked through and accomplished early in life. A few of our testers felt that being demonstrably unable to knock a door could imply that the unsuccessful knocker may have skipped many relatively easy early lessons for more complicated and challenging obstacles, suggesting hidden and potentially untapped depths of intelligence – a source of some encouragement for someone who may not be considered intelligent enough to knock a door properly.

Cons:  Despite all of the potential positives, it could still be said that an individual’s inability to affect the standard three-note or even two-note knock without getting it wrong wasn’t, on the face of things, very encouraging, in the same way that someone being surprised by a the door could be equally disappointing. It was also felt that an individual not yet confident in manipulating comparative knuckle/door-material tolerances at an advanced stage could be seen as having had an easy or sheltered life, though one thankfully not undermined by a penchant for fist-based violence.

Our testers also felt that, while good for not intimidating whoever happens to be on the other side of the door, botching a knock puts the knocker at a disadvantage, with the door’s owner having precedent to question the individual’s intelligence and assertiveness. They may even be less inclined to the knocker’s company, as the prospect of an undemanding audience equally means un-stimulating company. This situation is only worsened if the knocker is attempting to gain access to a party.

Finally, we felt that a strong, assertive (though not necessarily tuneful) knock was an important asset for delivery people, mobile individuals-of-authority and physical cold-callers. Botching the knock at the doorstep could be disastrous for the reputation of the caller, and as such we would advise at least basic doorstep training for any such professionals.

Verdict:  On balance, we found that the front door of any building represents a formalised moment of consideration and a physical spur to judge the level at which the relationship between the knocker and the owner of the door operates at. The subsequent knock performed is the indicator of that level. A poorly performed knock is done so largely because the performer hasn’t decided what kind of knock would be appropriate, and as such hasn’t decided on what ground the relationship lies, or where it should be heading. Our testers therefore concluded that an unsuccessful door-knock was incredibly useful (more useful even than a successful door-knock) both as an indication of a relationship that requires a degree of reassessment, and as the sign of a household that requires a doorbell.