The Office Elevator


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Elevator etiquette is pretty simple, and yet people have questions about this all the time. This article from lists 20 rules to guide you. But it doesn’t say when to break those rules.


  1. Traveling three or more floors. Exception: If your hands are full, you’re escorting guest or you’re riding with the boss.
  2. Don’t press the elevator button from the lobby and then decide to take the stairs. This rule applies 99.99 percent of the time, unless your boss meets you at the elevator and you start a conversation while walking to the stairs. However, if this happens more than once, expect people to start saying mean things about you.
  3. Do not enter the elevator if you have smoked a cigarette in the last 30 minutes or you are a chain smoker with clothes that smell like an ash tray. Sorry, there are no exceptions to this rule.
  4. Refrain from mentioning that it is Monday, Hump day or TGIF. A little small talk goes a long way. If it’s Monday, ask how the person’s weekend was (if you work in that kind of office). Don’t begrudgingly complain about the day, but don’t be afraid to make a little small talk.
  5. If you are one of two passengers, there is no need to discuss the weather during your elevator trip. See above comment on small talk. The weather is an ok topic! However, if the person is giving one word answers and seems uninterested, drop the conversation. Or if you don’t feel like talking, don’t.
  6. If the elevator is full, do not try and squeeze in. No exceptions to this one, either. If it stops at your floor on the way down and is full and someone insists, just say, “No thanks, I’ll grab the next one.” Or feign forgetting something and having to go back to your office.
  7. If someone is standing between you and another elevator traveler do not talk over the person in the middle. You wouldn’t want to be the one in the middle, so don’t put other people there. A wave and a hello is good enough until you get off the elevator.
  8. Try to avoid bodily functions. This includes blowing your nose and all the others. Even as you’re leaving. Really, does more need to be said?
  9. If you are wearing strong perfume or cologne, take the stairs. See number 3 above.
  10. Know which floor you need to go to before pressing any buttons. All adults hate that one person who pushes all the buttons, like a two-year-old child. Don’t be that person. However, if you are standing closest to the buttons and the elevator is getting full, it is ok to ask the people getting on the elevator what floor and push the button for them.
  11. Pressing an already lit  button does not make the elevator travel faster. It also does not make the doors open or close faster. If you are in that much of a hurry, you might have taken the stairs where you can control how fast or slow you go.
  12. Do not enter the elevator until people are done exiting the elevator. If that means you need to hold the doors open to let the older person in the back out, then so be it.
  13. If you enter this elevator traveling in the wrong direction, it’s too late. It happens to everyone at least once. Get off at the next available floor and try again.
  14. If there are other passengers in the elevator, do not hold the door for your coworker who is 30 seconds away. The only exception is if your co-worker is carrying a heavy box and you’ve asked the passengers already on the elevator if they don’t mind. Only if both answers are yes, is this ok to break.
  15. If someone is running to catch the elevator, either help them or don’t help them. Again, no exceptions. Choose one and stick by it.
  16. Do not hold a phone conversation in the elevator. Unless you are the ONLY person on the elevator. If another passenger gets on, hang up. If you’re dialing before you get in the elevator, wait. Be polite!
  17. Do not pull out your cell phone and text or browse the internet. See exception to number 16. You are not more important than the other passengers, don’t act like it.
  18. If you are forced to stand next to someone in a full elevator, make sure to maximize your distance as others exit the elevator. If you don’t expect awkward glances, gossip and general uneasiness.
  19. Try to keep your breathing as quiet as possible. Some people are uncomfortable in elevators. Hyperventilating only makes everything worse.
  20. Face forward at all times. Unless you’re having a quiet conversation with the person next to you.

You really don’t want to be the person that no one wants to ride in the elevator with. Be polite. Be aware. Be overly gracious.

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