Monday, April 23, 2012

Manners Monday: Elevator Etiquette

While spending quite a bit of time riding elevators recently during this last cruise, I realized that what might seem common courtesy to most, is not, as many did not use proper elevator etiquette on our ship. Even the Comedian aboard our ship incorporated this lack of manners in his routine by informing everyone that it is polite to let everyone off first before attempting to enter an elevator. 

Upon getting to the Ft. Lauderdale airport to grab a rental car and head home, we were greeting by a woman who was trying to force her bags into the elevator we were in without even taking into account the fact that we were trying to get off on her floor. Whether in an office building, airport, residential elevator, or hotel, I've personally experienced this lack of manners numerous times so I got to thinking it might be time to make this the next Manners Monday post.

How to Ride a Lift: Proper Elevator Etiquette

1. How to Enter an Elevator-While waiting to board, stand away from the door. Under no circumstances should you enter unless you are sure no one is getting off on your floor. If someone needs to get off, allow them the space to do so before attempting to board. The people exiting the elevator ALWAYS have the right-of-way.

In general those standing closest to the door should be allowed to board first. Gentlemen should allow ladies to board first if it is practical. Determine if there is enough room for you and your buffer space before entering, each person should have double their size for personal space.

During busy times, you may have to board a car that is crowded. Wait for others to invite you in either verbally or by making room for you, don't insist on entering a crowded car that makes everyone uncomfortable. If you are with others, you may have to wait for another car or separate so you can all reach the destination floor in a timely manner.

2. Where to Stand Inside the ElevatorAlways stand as close to a wall as possible. Consider your destination stop and stand towards the back if you are going to a high floor. If you will be getting off shortly, stand toward the front. Always be sure to face the elevator doors, it's poor etiquette to have your back facing the elevator door and essentially staring a stranger in the face, that invades someone's private space. Leave ample space between yourself and other passenger and do not make eye contact.

If you end up standing near the buttons, be aware that you may become responsible for pressing the floor buttons for others. Be sure to offer to press the buttons for those entering the elevator after you. This protocol alleviates people trying to reach across others and makes it easy for those who cannot reach it. Regardless of your location, if you are asked by another to press a button, it is proper to follow that request or inform the person standing closest if it isn't you. 

3. Do's & Don'ts Inside an Elevator

Do not keep others waiting by holding the door for someone that you are waiting upon. In an empty elevator it is considered polite to hold the doors for someone that is running toward the car.

If you are using an elevator while under the weather, consider waiting for an empty elevator car. Germs can be transferred very easily in close quarters so if you have to cough or sneeze, keep your mouth covered and refrain from touching the buttons if at all possible. 
It is NEVER acceptable to smoke in an elevator.
If you board an elevator with your significant other,  do not engage in a public display of affection while there are other passengers present, hand-holding is appropriate. Intimate relations in an empty elevator are not at all appropriate. Nobody will want to see what you two were up to when the doors open. Never use the emergency stop button for the purpose of getting intimate, save it for the bedroom.
Conversations in elevators are generally discouraged. However, if you began a conversation before getting into the elevator, especially with a colleague or someone getting off on a floor different from your destination, be sure to lower your voice and finish it as quickly as you can. Those who follow cell phone etiquette know that mobile phone conversations are a no-no, end them before you get into an elevator where you're not likely to maintain reception anyhow.
While striking up conversations with strangers in an elevator is not proper protocol, it is acceptable and a nice gesture to say "good morning" or "hello" upon entering out of politeness, but it is by no means necessary.
If you need to take  luggage onto an elevator, wait for an empty car if possible. If the car you enter is occupied, before entering make sure there is enough room for both you and your bags without violating others' personal space. Try to remain close to the doors with baggage to eliminate inconveniencing others by having them shift for your sake.
4. Riding in an Elevator with Children

Keep children close to you at all times and don't allow them to move or touch other passengers. If you have a baby with a "full" diaper that you can smell, or a small child that is throwing a tantrum, taking a stroller up the stairs is not an option so it's best to do everyone a favor and wait for the next empty car.

It's best not to encourage small children to press the numbered panel for your own floor while other riders are present. If they press more than your number, you'll be stopping at every floor and the other passengers will not be impressed.

5. How to Exit an Elevator

Gentlemen should allow ladies to exit the elevator first unless they are blocking the doors on a crowded elevator.

In a crowded elevator, when you are not close to the door, politely announce to others that the it's your floor and excuse yourself while making your way through the crowd, do not push.

If you are standing in the middle of the exit and the passenger who needs to exit, move out of the way as best as you can. It may sometimes be necessary to actually exit the elevator, allow them to leave and then re-enter. You might want to let others in the car know you'll be getting back on so the door doesn't close without you.

What's the most common lack of etiquette you've encountered while riding an elevator?

*images: (1) (2)


  1. I live on the top floor of a 20 story building, so I spend a fair amount of time in the elevator. I have been surprised by the lack of consideration given to body odor and strong perfumes. People who frequent elevators should avoid wearing too much perfume, and ensure that they bathe regularly/wear clean clothing as these odors can easily overwhelm other people in the elevator.

  2. Gabriella, that is such a good point! In enclosed spaces scents and smells are defintely amplified! I totally agree, it is common courtesy and a matter of good hygiene. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts! :)

  3. I just read this out loud to my husband just so he would know I did not make up the rule about standing with your back to the elevator door. Thanks for the confirmation.

  4. Paula, I'm so glad that this post was timely for you to share with your husband. :)


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