Elevator Etiquette

Since I have moved here I have become aware of a slight difference in the correct etiquette between getting the lift in the UK and getting the elevator in the USA. I have noticed that there seems to be four processes to follow in the USA in order to successfully coordinate getting the elevator without offending anyone. I have outlined these below and detailed what these appear to entail.

Waiting For The Elevator


  • If there is anyone else waiting acknowledge them with a nod or a smile.
  • If you are feeling bold maybe offer up a comment about how long the elevator is taking or question out loud whether it is stuck on a certain floor.
  • If you are by yourself maintain constant eye contact on the LED light as it flashes a countdown of numbers before reaching the desired one.

Entering The Elevator


  • Never enter the elevator if someone is waiting to exit. This is a cardinal sin in the elevator world!
  • Do not enter the elevator if there is a special curtain around the sides and padding on the floor. Chances are someone has ‘booked it’ and all you will succeed in doing is perplexing yourself as you press a floor button and then the door closes and opens without moving. If you do decide to ignore this rule you will be there for a very long time until somebody else informs you that somebody has booked it thus causing yourself to look a little bit silly.
  • Always allow the person who has been waiting the longest to board the elevator first. Never jump the queue as then you will be stuck in a very confined space with all the people you have annoyed and essentially tried to leave behind. Jumping the elevator queue does not get you there quicker than everyone else because no matter how quickly you jump the line, the elevator doors do not close with as much speed.
  • If you are the first one in, or the one who choses to stand beside the elevator floor buttons, always ask everyone which floor they would like before pressing your own. Do not just press your own and then stand there. No one like a lone elevator rider who doesn’t care about anyone else.
  • If there are others in the elevator then try to face into the middle to provide a more cohesive and friendly atmosphere instead of standing with your back to everyone. If no-one else is in the elevator then go ahead and stand however you want. If you have a long journey you could even lie down or strike some yoga poses. If you are doing the latter make sure you keep a check on any slowing down of the elevator before your stop. Otherwise it could be a little bit awkward if the elevator doors open and you are there…. in the downward-dog pose. Trust me, I know, I speak from experience.

Elevator Journey

  • During the elevator journey make sure you acknowledge everyone with a smile, a quick wiggle of the eyebrows or a simple hello.
  • If there is a silent pause then there a few ways you can deal with this; enjoy the silence, if you are British say something irrelevant but very British (just so people can hear your accent) like ‘tally ho old chap’ as this works a treat and is guaranteed to get any conversation started, play some music to entertain everyone and provide them with elevator music or bring a dog with you. The latter is a great talking point as long as your pooch behaves. Alternatively if somebody else has a dog with them then this provides the perfect talking point.
  • If anyone new enters the lift make sure to say hello or any other random comment like “Are you going to the food truck festival as well?”. Only use this if there is actually a food truck festival going on somewhere. If not you will just appear a little bit odd.
  • If anyone leaves the elevator before you do make sure you bid them adieu with a ‘have a good day’ or ‘have a good night’.

Exiting The Elevator

  • Exit the elevator and say a farewell to any left over occupants and if they say a farewell to you then reply with a ‘uh huh’ or ‘you too’.
  • Never push someone out-of-the-way to exit the lift if they are in front of you. This will win you no support. Instead you will be infamously known as the person who pushes people in the elevator. If you do choose this route be prepared for everyone to turn their backs against you for the entire elevator lift, on all the elevators you take, period.
  • Always go in the right direction after exiting the lift. Nothing screams dopey like initially heading one way only to then backtrack the other way whilst the remaining elevator occupants look on bemused as they wait for the door to close. Not good.


    • Hello Claire,

      No unfortunately nothing political, which is a shame as the GOP candidate pre-race is very interesting at the moment! I am just here for a bit but heading back to the UK soon so back to normal lifts 🙂
      Take care

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