13 Mistakes You’re Making in an Elevator

Stand clear of the closing doors.

13 Mistakes You’re Making in an Elevator

Stand clear of the closing doors.

“There are only three times in our lives that we enter a small, windowless, enclosed space that has no ready exit: the womb, the tomb, and the elevator. The elevator is the only one we share with strangers,” Lane A. Longfellow, PhD, the self-proclaimed world’s authority on elevator etiquette, told New York Magazine, in 1977. Since then, he’s been regularly dishing out advice on how to properly behave in an elevator.

Yes, like everything else in your life, that cramped, claustrophobic steel box you ride every day is also dictated by an ironclad rulebook: It’s called elevator etiquette. But chances are, you’ve violated more than a few clauses, more than a few times—and without even realizing it. So, in the interest of you never again ruffling the feathers of your fellow lift-riders, we’ve created a comprehensive guide to elevator etiquette. Follow these 13 rules—ranging from mere impropriety to straight-up rude behavior—like you would any other. And for more rules to follow, don’t miss the 23 Old-Fashioned Etiquette Rules That Still Apply.

elevator etiquette

1
You take the elevator to 2.

Are you serious? It’s one flight. If you need any further motivation to climb the stairs: According to findings in Physiology & Behavior, taking the stairs each day can provide an energy boost equivalent to that a cup of coffee. So by taking the stairs, you’re being polite and healthy. (Exceptions shall be made, of course, for those with disabilities, injuries, or high heels. Or people with heavy bags.) If you’re looking for good workout inspiration these days, check out Alison Brie’s 5 Best Body Tips. 

elevator etiquette man on phone

2
You’re on the phone.

The folks at Good Manners & Etiquette are clear on this: “It is not good etiquette to talk on the phone in the elevator.”

elevators facing the same way

3
You’re not facing the same way as everyone else.

“The most egregious faux pas a person can commit in an elevator is to face the back,” says Longfellow.

elevator etiquette conversation sandwich

4
You make it hard for people to get off.

If the car stops on a floor that’s not yours, obviously someone else is disembarking. So step aside from the door; heck, even step outside the elevator, if you need to. Don’t worry: The other riders will let you back on.

elevator etiquette

5
You’re hitting an already-hit button.

Hitting it again won’t make the lift go any faster. You will only agitate your fellow passengers.

elevator etiquette pressing the button

6
You reach over someone to hit a button.

It’s way more polite to say, “Excuse me, would you mind hitting 7? Thank you.”

elevator etiquette holding door

7
You’re holding the elevator up to finish a conversation.

At the end of the day, it’s just plain rude to your fellow passengers.

elevator etiquette putting on jacket

8
You’re putting on your coat inside the elevator.

Rule of thumb: If it’s a physical activity you’d have trouble completing in a phone booth, don’t try it on an elevator.

elevator etiquette standing in front of the buttons

9
You’re choosing to stand in front of the buttons.

And have no intention of offering to push the button for fellow passengers. We need to reach those.

elevator etiquette man on phone

10
We can hear your headphones.

Even if you think we can’t.

elevator etiquette

11
You’re keeping your backpack on.

That rucksack is taking up valuable chest-level airspace.

handshake elevator etiquette

12
You’re trying to talk over a third person who unintentionally jumped in the middle of your conversation.

It’s not their fault. They didn’t ask to be the meat of your “conversation sandwich.”

elevator etiquette stalling

13
You don’t own up to your mistakes.

You accidentally hit the wrong floor. Don’t pretend to look around expectantly for someone to get off on the ghost floor. Say aloud, “Oops! Pressed the wrong floor,” and everything will be okay.

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