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Skills - Etiquette - Elevators

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Recently observed elevator behavior emphasizes a definite need to put into writing certain generally understood rules connected with riding elevators. By becoming aware of and faithfully observing these unofficial rules, those individuals new to the ritual can have an elevated experience!


If you are going up or down a single floor, there is no need to worry about this section. You don't need an elevator! Walk! The effort will be appreciated greatly by both your own body and by the e-riders who are eager to reach their more distant destinations. The only exceptions should be those made for individuals with physical limitations or large packages!

If you are traveling several floors up or down, and have arrived at the elevator to find a lit button indicating the direction you desire to travel, do nothing but WAIT. Continuous button pushing may make you feel better about the wait, but it will not shorten that wait.

If your elevator has a multi-button indicator, and the one that is lit calls a car going in the direction opposite of the one you desire, DO NOT PUSH ANY MORE BUTTONS ! Wait for the car to make a return trip or find a completely different elevator.


Stand to the side of the elevator doors while waiting. As most Americans do when driving cars on the highway or strolling on a sidewalk, choose the area to the right side of the elevator. This allows disembarking passengers to quickly exit into an uncongested area. The sooner the passengers exit, the sooner the next group can fill the empty car.

While this should be a "duh" situation, it is amazing how many individuals choose to stand directly in front of closed elevator doors and remain standing in front of those doors after they open, thus blocking individuals who are fighting to exit the car before said door slams them into the side of the opening! These are obviously the same individuals who do not understand the concept of "wait your turn" or who "dared" and "double-dared" their way through childhood. Please, play nice people. Those waiting to enter an elevator should first get out of the way of those exiting the elevator!

Individuals exiting the elevator also should play nice. This is not the running of the bulls at Pamplona; it is merely the end of an elevator ride. There is no need to push and shove as you exit.

While there is no gender or age preferences during this process, consideration should be given to those in wheel chairs, on crutches, with mobilized bookbags, or bad attitudes bordering on rudeness. Usually, however, the procedure is plain and simple -- those closest to the door are the first to leave the car.

"Move to the back of the elevator, please," was a line customarily heard when department store elevator operators were common. Fully automated cars are the norm these days, and the voice of reason is expected to replace the e-operator. If you will be traveling in the car for many floors, step to the rear. If you will be leaving the elevator within the next three or four floors, don't move so far to the rear that you will have to crawl over other passengers to exit when your floor is reached. Common sense should prevail.

If many people are exiting on your floor, a courteous gesture would be to hold the door open as the group travels through. It is NOT courteous to hold the door open, and thus hold up traffic, while you chat with a friend about the latest classroom catastrophe or the workplace weekly wrongdoing. If your conversation will be a lengthly one, step aside and out of the way. Then take the next elevator.


Standard Operating Procedure in the USA for riding in an elevator is as follows:

  • Individuals enter an elevator.
  • They move to rear or side of car depending on length of anticipated journey.
  • They leave ample space between self and other riders if car is not crowded.
  • They turn to face doors, unless in observation car with rear-glass encasement.
  • They tell person closest to location panel which of the numbered buttons they wish pushed. [If you are in front of the car by this panel, you assume responsibility of an acting elevator operator!]
  • They DO NOT SING, HUM, WHISTLE along with music--unless alone or with a group of intimate friends or other members of their barbershop quartet.
  • They may nod or speak a hello, but most ride silently to destination.
  • When entering car while in an ongoing conversation, most individuals keep volume low or terminate discussion.
  • Food or drink is usually covered because it is being transported to another destination and is not consumed during elevator ride.
  • Trash is not left on floor or written on walls outside on inside elevator.

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