“After you…” – Lift Etiquette


Avoiding the stairs and taking the lift which is a small, confined space with strangers is, as we may think, normal. And as with everything, we expect others to behave in a manner respectful to us, and of course, we are respectful to others too.

Have you ever waited behind someone who thinks that pressing both the ‘upward arrow’ button and the ‘downward arrow’ button together would make the lift arrive quicker? That pressing them both repeatedly would actually make it work even faster?

How to use the lift

Press the directional button depending on the floor you wish to go to, once. The upward arrow if you want to go up, the downward arrow if you want to go down. It is only when the directional button that you pressed lights up and the lift arrives at your floor that you can enter and press the floor you wish to go to. Otherwise, spare the complaint of having to go up before down or vice versa.

Before going in

Queuing is a must – it’s not a race of who gets in first and always wait for those going out before you step in. If it is full, do not try to squeeze yourself in.

Inside the lift

If you are already in the lift, make way for others by moving towards the back. Avoid blocking the numbered panel, so others may press the buttons. Personal space is limited inside a lift. There is nothing more awkward than having someone standing too close to you when there is ample space for you to disperse. So keep a good distance and avoid touching others, even if it’s with your bag or briefcase.

Where to look?

Due to the limited space and because more often than not no one knows each other, do not look directly at others. It’s awkward and doesn’t feel right. So where to look? Look up, look towards the door or straight ahead. But don’t stare at others – even though your thoughts are a mile away.

Exiting the Lift

If you are standing at the back, simply say ‘excuse me’ and move towards the door without bumping unecessarily into others. Be quick and allow others standing closer to the door to exit before you do.

 Acts of Courtesy
  1. If the lift is full and you are near the buttons, offer to press the floor button for those entering.
  2. If you are close to the door and the lift is full, exit on every floor while holding the doors with the palm of your hand to make way for those leaving.
  3. Do not delay the lift when it is full.
  4. Remember space is limited so avoid personal conversations. Pause your conversation and continue later.
Ramona Galea

Ramona is an International Etiquette Coach and an avid believer of the importance these soft skills have nowadays. This passion kicked off from a young age when she questioned why elbows couldn’t stay on the table and her inquisitiveness continued and she founded First Class Etiquette, to address the developing need for people’s understanding of the importance of international business and social etiquette. It really is not just about elbows but confidence, attitude, assertiveness and knowing the how, the when and the why we do things. Amongst her hectic schedule, her two biggest indulgences are travelling with her family and reading with an Aperol Spritz in quiet surroundings - just being away from it all to de-stress.

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