Day 272/365: The Elevator Etiquette

September 30, 2011

Oversized Packages:

In any case where you are carrying or pushing a large package, you should wait for an empty elevator. If you are invited to board a loaded car, be sure all riders agree to the invitation and that it is not mere polity. If you are unsure, insist that you are willing to wait for the next empty car.

Exit: While waiting to board, stand AWAY from the door opening. DO NOT board the car unless you are sure no one is getting off on your floor. If there is someone exiting, allow them to clear the door before attempting to board.

Day 271/365: The Elevator Etiquette

Checking Direction: To save yourself from embarrassment, always check the direction of the car before boarding. If you cannot see an indicator lamp, politely ask the riders of the car which direction the car is traveling. DO NOT stop the doors from closing to do this.

Crowded Elevator: To determine whether you should board the car, determine if there is enough room for you and your buffer space. As a rule of thumb, there should be room for two people for every one that is attempting to board. During high traffic times, you may find it necessary to board a car that is crowded. If there is not a verbal invitation to board, the passengers may welcome you by making room for you, consider that an invitation to board. If you are with someone else, do not assume that the invitation stands for all of you. It may be necessary to split up and agree to meet at your destination floor.

Who’s on First? In general those standing nearest the door should be allowed to board first. Gentlemen should allow ladies to board first to the extent that this is practical.

Holding the Door: Holding the door for someone that is running toward the car is only appropriate when the car is empty or there is consensus among the passengers that it is ok to wait.

Closing the Door: Closing the door using the door close button should be done only when it is clear that no one is trying to board the elevator or when there are other cars available to go in the same direction. It is improper to close the door on someone that is moving toward the elevator. It is also acceptable to close the door when you are in a full elevator that stops at a floor for a passenger who indicates they would like to wait for the next car. Give them a chance to make their decision to board or not to board before closing the door.

Boarding Blocking the Door: It is inappropriate to block an elevator door from the outside for any reason. Do not abuse the safety devices built in to the elevator door. Refrain from sticking feet, hands, umbrellas, briefcases or other items in front of a closing elevator door.

The Elevator Etiquette

Where to Stand? You should stand as close to a wall as possible. Consider your destination floor and stand near the back if you are going to a high floor. If you know you are getting off shortly, stand toward the front. If you choose to stand near the buttons, understand that you may have increased responsibility. Always allow as much space as possible between you and the passengers. Always stand facing the door.

Once the Door Closed:

Talking and Singing: Conversations in the elevator are generally discouraged, however, it is acceptable to continue a conversation that was started before boarding as long as it is not clearly irritating others in the car. Avoid lewd jokes and topics that could offend others. If you feel the other passengers are not enjoying your discussion STOP talking and continue when you have arrived at your destination floor. When talking on an elevator be considerate, talk softly and do not assume that everyone in the car cares about what you are saying.
If your personality dictates that you must start a conversation with complete strangers, start with light discussion about weather or current events. Avoid topics that may get cut off when one of you reaches their destination floor. Gentlemen should use extra caution when starting conversations with women they do not know – especially if the elevator is in a parking garage or empty building. If passengers board while conversing, DO NOT think this is an invitation to join their conversation. Do not cut in unless you are invited to join the discussion.
Do not make fun of people when they get off the elevator. You never know if other passengers in the car know the person. Singing, humming and whistling are generally discouraged. If you are wearing headphones, they should be turned down to a level that cannot be heard by other passengers.

Touching and Closeness: In general, it is inappropriate to touch other passengers on purpose. If you should accidentally bump into someone with you baggage or parts of your person, immediately apologize for invading their personal space.Always respect the personal space of the other passengers. Imagine an invisible buffer zone that extends about a foot from the person in all directions and keep out of that area. See where to stand. If you board an elevator with your significant other, keep touching limited to hand-holding. Do not engage in a public display of affection while there are other passengers present. Intimate recreation in an empty elevator is discouraged, and should be conducted at your own risk. Other people do not want to see you in a compromising position when the doors open. Never use the emergency stop button for the purpose of having a private moment – there are plenty of places where you can get privacy without inconveniencing others.

Elevator Etiquette

Health Issues: If you are using an elevator while sick, consider waiting for the elevator to arrive empty. The close proximity of an elevator makes it a good place for germs to be transferred. If you have a cold, keep your mouth covered and avoid touching the buttons without a tissue. Always cover your mouth when sneezing in an elevator. As a courtesy, you might consider warning new arrivals to the elevator that you are sick before allowing them to board. This gives them a choice rather than creating a situation where they unknowingly expose themselves to your condition. Never, under any circumstances urinate or defecate in en elevator. It is not, and never will be considered funny by anyone. It presents a serious health risk to elevator riders as well as maintenance personnel. Riding an elevator while intoxicated should be avoided. Your impairment could present a danger to yourself and other riders. Take the stairs and use the hand rails. Do not smoke in any elevator.

Pressing the Floor Buttons: 

The Elevator Etiquette

-No re-pressing
Pay attention to which buttons have been pressed when you enter the elevator. Once a button has been pressed, nothing more can be done. Re-pressing the floor button will not make the elevator get you to your floor any faster. Re-pressing is disrespectful to the person that has already pressed the button and is generally irritating.

-Press for others
If you find yourself close to the button panel in an elevator, you have the additional responsibility of button management. It is your job to make sure the other riders have had the button for their floor pressed. This keeps people from reaching through a crowd to the button panel and eliminates the stress for those that cannot reach the buttons.Regardless of your position, if you are asked to press a button, it is proper to press the button as requested or pass the request on to the closest person to the button panel.

– Make a mistake?
Take steps to ensure that the only buttons being pressed are the ones for which floor a passenger must exit. However, in the event that you mistakenly press a button for the wrong floor, wait until the doors open on that floor and apologize to those who remain in the elevator. You may press the door closed buttons to cut down on wasted time.

Baggage and Elevators:

When you find it necessary to take baggage onto an elevator, wait for an empty car when possible. If you must board an occupied elevator with baggage, be sure there is enough room for you and your baggage without violating the personal space of others.

Try to stay near the doors with baggage in order to displace the fewest number of passengers upon your exit.

Stopping the Elevator:

The emergency stop button is for emergencies only. Do not use this button for personal reasons.

Using a passenger elevator for the transport of cargo is not recommended. However, if it must occur, avoid stopping the elevator for long periods of time.


Gentlemen should allow ladies to exit the elevator first unless you are blocking the doors.

The Elevator Etiquette

The “My Floor” Rule

In a crowded elevator, when there are others between you and the door, announce that the elevator has arrived at your floor and excuse yourself while making your way through the crowd. Pushing is discouraged.

Get Out of the Way

When standing between someone trying to exit and the door, do your best to move out of the way for them. If necessary, exit the elevator, allow them to leave and re-board.


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