Proper elevator etiquette is essential. Of all the modern conveniences, elevators might win in being the most loved and hated. We love them when they work and we would otherwise have to hike up several flights of stairs, but hate them when they’re broken, stop on every floor, or move too slowly. At times, slow elevators can even make getting to the office after arriving at your building seem like a second commute.
Elevators also take the prize for creating some of the most awkward situations. You know, when there’s bad elevator music, you get stuck with two strangers who know each other, or you start a conversation only to have it dwindle into silence the rest of the ride up. But the whole process can be made smoother if everyone keeps in mind these simple dos and don’ts.
1. Cut in line. During morning rush hour, the line for the elevator can stretch to the door. When the elevator finally arrives and the line starts moving, resist the urge to rush ahead in the surge forward. Everyone has to go up. Be patient.
2. Squeeze in. No one enjoys being pressed up against strangers on the way to work in the morning. It’s best to wait for the next ride up if the elevator is visibly full.
3. Talk. Never start a private conversation with a colleague in a crowded elevator. Everyone will hear, whether they want to or not. Cellphone use is also a big don’t. Cell service in elevators tends to be spotty so fellow passengers will be doubly irritated if you answer your phone only to utter a series of “Can you hear me now?”s. That said, you can greet your fellow elevator passengers, but keep in mind that starting a long conversation may have them wishing for a quick escape from the confined seven by six feet of space.
1. Know when to take the stairs. In a study by CareerBuilder.co.uk, 29 percent of respondents listed colleagues taking the elevator to go up one or two floors as the most irritating elevator faux pas. If you work on the first or second floor, are not carrying something heavy, and have easy access to the stairs, use them. Similarly, if you see someone press 7 in crowded elevator and you work on 6, get off on the seventh floor and walk down one flight. Everyone will thank you.
2. Know where to stand. According to the same study, standing too close to others when there is plenty of room in the elevator is the most annoying elevator habit. Spread out when entering the elevator. Move to the back, especially if you are going to a higher floor. If you are standing by the control panel, offer to press buttons for people and hold the doors as larger groups exit.
3. Hold the door when you see someone running for the elevator. But don’t hold the door for the friend you know is coming…just after he closes his email and uses the restroom, and maybe rounds up some of your other coworkers for that coffee run.
4. Move out of the way. Just as you would on the subway or commuter train (we hope), if you are closest to the door, step out of the elevator to let others exit. In a particularly crowded elevator, it’s polite to reach an arm back to hold the door for exiting passengers.
5. Smile. If you’re having an especially good day and want to share, smile at people as they get in. If the elevator isn’t too crowded, maybe even throw out a ‘have a good day’ when you leave. People may not respond, but they’ll remember that nice person who attempted to ease the awkward tension so often a part of elevator rides.