There are unspoken rules about etiquette when riding in an elevator. Using appropriate body language, respecting fellow passengers’ personal space, and keeping conversations to a minimum can make the ride a more pleasant experience for everyone.
Proxemics is the study of perception and use of space as it relates to people. People stand at different distances from each other based on their level of familiarity. Intimate proximity is 0 to 18 inches, personal-casual proximity is 1.5 to four feet, social proximity is four to 10 feet, and public proximity is 10 feet or more. Space is limited in an elevator, but it is important to give strangers as much personal space as possible.
When you enter an elevator, stand as close to a wall or corner as possible in order to give your fellow passengers space. Avoid large body movements. If you are going to a high floor, stand in the back of the elevator. If you are going to a lower floor, try to stand near the doors.
Where you should stand depends on the number of people in the elevator. If there are two or three people, stand as far apart as possible. If there are four, each person should stand in a corner. If there are five or more people, everyone should face the door, stand tall, keep personal items in front of the body, and avoid touching other people unless it is so crowded that shoulders or arms touch.
Most people are absorbed in their own thoughts and avoid eye contact while in an elevator. While it is acceptable to make brief eye contact and smile in an elevator, starting a conversation is generally not recommended. If you are talking to someone when you enter an elevator, keep your voice down and do not discuss personal matters. Be aware of how other passengers may be reacting to your conversation.
Riding an elevator is an uncomfortable experience for some people. However, you can make it more pleasant by following these simple rules of etiquette.