With elevators being the sole system of transportation in most high rise buildings, riding one is integral to getting to and out of your workplace. For some, this task is nothing but a fleeting, one-and-a-half minute drop (or rise) to their floor destination. For others, it’s a claustrophobic nightmare (of what is feels like forever, but is logically two minutes) of hell in a box. Do you think twice about entering when you see Diana Daldalera? Hold your breath when Bagoong Addict Belinda enters? If only they had elevator etiquette! Here’s a list of what you should and shouldn’t do in an elevator. You may want to print this out, and slip it into Diana Daldalera’s pigeonhole—just a suggestion!
Stepping inside the elevator car, especially when it’s full, can be the equivalent of setting yourself up for two minutes of social awkwardness intensified by the fact that any point in your body is probably mere inches away from another person. So be smart about making it through those doors.
1. Don’t force your way in.
If the elevator is full and you’re the last to enter, avoid trying to squeeze into the already-cramped space. Yes, even if you think, “kaya pa naman, e!” As long you have to stand fully pressed against someone else’s body, the decent option would be to wait for the next elevator to arrive, and ride that one instead.
2. Let occupants file out before entering.
The minute the doors slide open, let everyone in the elevator move out before you motion to step in. Try to form a neat line on the side of the elevator away from the nearest exit, so that nothing obstructs the way of passengers on their way out.
3. Hold the elevator.
While it isn’t polite to outright ask for the doors to be held open, especially for an extended time (e.g., when you’re half a building away and not even running to catch it), it would be well-mannered of you to offer to do so yourself, especially if you’re the only one in the lift, and even more so if you’ve made eye contact with the person trying to catch a ride! Just remember—never stick out your hand or body part to keep it open. To avoid any accidents, press the “hold” or “open” button on the control panel instead.
4. Give way to the elderly, pregnant women, people with small children and infants, etc.
This is a basic courtesy anywhere, whether you’re on the train, waiting in line, just about anything. So why not with elevators? When it comes to senior citizens and pregnant ladies, these are people who probably shouldn’t be on their feet for quite as long as you can be, and the discomfort of being squeezed into small spaces could affect their health, so show them some basic courtesy. And when it comes to people with small children (especially if your office building shares space with a mall, doctor’s offices, or residential units), think about how you’d feel if you were carrying your own precious load.
We don’t know anyone who’s actually comfortable in an elevator, especially when it’s half occupied or more. But there are things that make the ascent or descent even more awkward, and you don’t want to be the person who does that for everyone else.
5. Don’t make too much noise.
Loud noises and cramped spaces are never a good combination. If you happen to be gossiping with your co-workers about Gemma’s deplorable habit of never replacing the printer ink before boarding the elevator, save the rest of your discussion for when you step out. This goes the same for phone calls and blaring music!
6. Minimize the aromas you introduce into this enclosed space.
You just bought your favorite garlic mozzarella sandwich and can’t wait to have a bite of it—but, dear, please do wait! Strong odors are a real put-off when inside an elevator. Others may think that it’s okay to pass gas while alone in the elevator, thinking no one’s going to smell it. While no one’s there to detect it when it’s released, you can bet the next people who step into that elevator won’t be too happy!
7. Be smart and courteous about button-pushing.
If you’re the person right next to the toggle of buttons in a crowded elevator, offer to push the numbers of the floors people intend to go to. Passengers may dictate them to you, but if they don’t, it wouldn’t hurt to ask, “What floor?” Be ready for a chorus of different numbers. If ever you happen to be cornered on the opposite side, far from button’s reach, you’d appreciate it! Now, if you accidentally push the button to the wrong floor or change your mind mid-trip about where you want to go, see if you can undo things by double-pressing the button to the floor you do not want to go to as many elevators now let you unselect a floor in this manner.
8. Keep your distance.
Personal space is something that rarely exists inside a tight elevator, but you can make things better by doing your best to respect it. When carrying a lot of bags, hold them by your lower front or by your feet so as not to disturb other people. Make a conscious effort to stand still, keep to yourself, and avoid body contact, as much as possible.
Ah, sweet relief! Now it’s time to exit! But that doesn’t mean you can push your way to the front and make a run for it.
9. Don’t take your sweet time exiting.
Once the elevator arrives at your stop, make sure you don’t linger. This may seem like common sense, but there are people out there who are so spiritually occupied in getting to the next level of Candy Crush that they walk slowly out of the elevator, concentrating on their game instead of considering the time they’re taking away from other people.
10. Say “excuse me” if you have to get past a few people to exit.
Saying “excuse me” when you have to make your way to the front of the elevator is far more gracious than pushing or using you elbows to nudge people aside!
A little politeness really does go a long way—enough to keep you sane through elevator rides down dozens of flights. Do you have any particular pet peeves or rude encounters on elevator rides? Let us know about them in the comments section below!
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An avid lover of bagoong, philosophy, and writing, Valeria enjoys spending her free time typing ideas away on her keyboard, and listening to Alan Watts tapes. You may spot her taking long walks with her dog, Snow, while singing second voice to Disney songs. She intends to take up a master's degree in Creative Writing one day, and publish her own book!