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Friday, July 29, 2016

Lift etiquette: What not to do in an elevator

Lift etiquette: are you the button monitor?
Lift etiquette has bothered people since the first commercial lift – or elevator, for our American friends – was put into operation by Elisha Graves Otis in a New York department store in 1857.

Since then, there have been countless commentaries published to explain to the unwary how to act in a lift.

Rules can be obvious: no farting, burping, violent sneezing or coughing fits. Basically, don't be anti-social and disgusting, especially if you are at work and the boss is in the same lift. (Unless you hate them and want to drop one silently and run).

Other rules are less obvious. These include:

Button Monitor
If you are by the buttons, you are ‘button monitor’. This is an unofficial rule. It becomes your responsibility to push the button for other people. Don’t let this responsibility go to your head. Do not ask for tips. Do not pretend you’re in the Science Museum and make noises for each floor number you press.

Coffee King
People do have to bring coffee into lifts if they’ve bought it outside of the office. Keep it close to you. Nobody wants your latte down their best suit.

Phone calls
Most lifts do not have cellphone reception but if yours does, please don’t regale your lift buddies with your previous night’s exploits. It doesn’t make you look cool. It makes you look like a Neolithic jerk.

Let people out first
This is something that should not need to be explained. Yet every time I step to the right to allow people to leave the lift when it arrives, colleagues stand right in front – and then act surprised when people try to get out of the lift. It’s simple manners and every day I see morons forgetting the simple fact: people get out of lifts, as well as into them.

Two-floor rule
If you only work on floors 1 and 2, and have no medical, baggage, or age-related reason for not walking, walk up the stairs instead of being a lazy nuisance. All you do is make your lift colleagues going to floors 4 and above resent you for stopping the lift and delaying them getting to their desks.

If I am having a quiet conversation with someone and continue this in the lift, I expect to carry on this conversation in low, hushed tones, with that person. I do not expect people I do not know to join in. If you know me, fine, I’m in a shared space with you, but for the sake of a few seconds’ space-sharing, please do not butt into something to which you have not been invited. If we wanted your opinion, we’d ask for it.

This has happened twice today at work, in fact. People I’ve never seen before felt comfortable offering their thoughts and opinions quite freely. One didn't join the conversation but dropped a passive-aggressive 'aside' to me, before running out of the lift before I could respond. The other just blithely gave a running commentary on What'sApp to two people who were not interested. Lady, I don’t care to hear your commentary. 

With both these interruptions happening at work today, I felt it worth double-checking with colleagues and online-based etiquette gurus. William Hanson was kind enough to respond to my tweet:

Apparently, it IS rude when you don't know the person, at least in England, although as Mr Hanson says, it could vary from culture to culture.

So, when in the office lift, please stop butting into other people's conversations. I don’t interpose in other people’s conversations so don’t feel free to blunderbuss your way into mine.

However it is also worth mentioning it could be best and more polite to put all conversations on hold in the lift to avoid giving someone else the opportunity to barge in uninvited, and bear in mind the lift is a shared space.

It goes without saying this all only applies if there is anyone else in the lift with you.

If you are alone, or with one other like-minded individual, and there is no camera in the lift, you are quite welcome to play ‘Lift Chicken’.

Lift Chicken: The Rules

Lift Chicken: Solo
If you are on your own, and the lift slows to stop at a floor other than the one you’ve chosen, the Game of Lift Chicken is officially on.
Strike a ludicrous, exaggerated pose right by the doors.
See how long you can wait in that position as the doors open.
If you bail out before the doors even slightly part, you’re a chicken.
Don’t get caught by the boss.

Lift Chicken: Two people
As before, but the winner is the last one to cave in to decorum before the doors open.

The other is the ‘chicken’.

Don't be chicken - play Lift Chicken to win!


Jezz said...

I once got a laugh from an eavesdropper in a lift whilst telling a colleague a story about me feeding some cows on a visit to a friend's farm. Pick your material wisely. :o)

Mermaid of Moorgate said...

That sounds like a good story to me Jezz!