Manners & Misdemeanors

10 Essential Rules For Elevator Etiquette

There's proper etiquette for your daily elevator ride.

The average person takes about 4 elevator trips each day and the waiting and travel time can range from 3.2 to 4.2 minutes. That totals to approximately 1,533 minutes or, simply, a whole day spent in a year going back and forth between floors. That’s a lot of time spent mostly aggravated at our fellow passengers. To escape that, we’ve created a general guide to becoming a better elevator rider.

1. Fall in line.

Mornings are usually the busiest times for elevators. If there’s anything we can learn from the Japanese, it’s that organization is key. Lining up in an orderly fashion using a system will get us where we want to go faster.

2. Clear a path.

When the doors open you can expect a frenzy of people rushing out. Leave a space between you and the door and stay on the right side. If you do decide to stay in the middle, prepare to get trampled over.

3. Never squeeze yourself in.

The golden rule: Those who waited first, board first. I once happened to be the last passenger to get on the lift; all was well until a latecomer tried to squeeze himself in. At its capacity, the elevator wouldn’t close and the stubborn man wouldn’t get off. After the longest wait, I decided this wasn’t worth it and just stepped out. The man may have gotten what he wanted but at what cost? Don’t be that person and just patiently wait for the next elevator.

4. Don’t press the call button too early.

You’ve decided to wait it out and ride the next elevator. Good. You press the call button even before the doors close. Bad. It’s a situation where no one wins and no one wants to be in. Another case for patience: Make sure to press the call button a few seconds after the doors close.


5. Be aware of your position.

Avoid inconveniencing your fellow riders by heading to the back of the elevator if you’re going to the topmost floors. If the elevator’s full and you don’t have a choice make sure you step out at the floors where people get off.

6. Designated button pusher.

If you somehow end up near the buttons, you should accept your fate as the designated button pusher. This means pressing the open button when people are exiting and pressing the close button in the event it doesn’t. It’s also your job to look out for people who want to get in the elevator and then holding the doors for them. If you see someone rushing toward the lift, be nice and press the open button. Remember too that pressing the buttons multiple times won't make the elevator go faster, so keep your cool. 

7. Respect personal space.

If you can feel someone breathing down on you, that’s way too close for comfort. Always respect other people’s personal space.

8. Mind your objects.

Bags and other objects should always either be put down or left on the floor. If your elevator has reception that doesn’t mean you should be making calls inside. Conversations should be kept to a minimum inside the elevator, not everyone has to hear your business.

9. Make a quick exit.

Don’t be afraid to let people know in advance when you’ll be getting off, typically, the floor before your stop. Move quickly, in a neat way. However, you should never push and shove to get out of the elevator.

10. Use the elevator as a last resort.

If you’re only traveling one to three floors above or below consider taking the stairs. The only exceptions are if you have trouble walking or if you’re lugging around something heavy. The elevator should only be used in times of need.


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Paolo Chua
Staff Writer
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