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Modern etiquette: Doors, elevators and escalators

13 Comments

Earlier today I nearly got flattened by someone getting on the elevator car I was trying to leave. Ouch.

Knocking heads with a total stranger is an awkward conversation starter at best. Thus, it is time to review the mindset and mechanics of doors, elevators, and escalators. Here goes:

Unless you were hired as a doorman, there's no need to hold the door for everyone in sight. If you see someone coming along with arms filled with packages, files, or whatever, by all means open a door for him or her. And of course, if someone on crutches or in a wheelchair, help out.

Remember the basic rule - whoever needs the help, gets the help, regardless of gender. Most of us can open our own doors. However, if you are with a senior executive or honored guest, it's best to let that person reach the door and go ahead of you.

Elevators magnify the pressures of limited space. If you're among the first to enter on the ground floor and will be getting off at one of the lower floors, stand in the corner near the door and let others fill in the space behind you.

If you're in the front and are getting off at a higher floor, step out at intervening stops, hold your hand on the door to prevent it from closing, and reboard after others have gotten off.

If you're at the control panel, press the hold button to keep the doors open until everyone is aboard; then ask people to call out their floors so that you can press the floor buttons for them.

Once inside, don't remove hats, coats, or gloves; you may bump others or cause them to think you will. Mind that you don't whack others with your backpack, tote, or yoga bag.

Make eye contact, smile, and say hello if you want to. Think twice before engaging in conversation; you never know who's listening.

The escalator mantra is "keep moving." Look where you're stepping when you get on, so you have sure footing. Stick to the right and hold on to the rails so that passengers in a hurry can get around you on the left.

Here again, don't engage in conversation with the person on the step above or below you. Sound carries, and you never know who might hear your opinions of office issues, or worse, people.

Once you reach the top, move quickly out of the way to avoid a pileup of passengers behind you. The escalator is no place to daydream.

Most important, remember that "please," "thank you," and "excuse me" are gender neutral and always appropriate, regardless of your place in your organization's pecking order.

In fact, the higher up the ladder you are, the better your manners should be. How else will anybody learn from you?

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2014.

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

13 Comments
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The escalator mantra is ..................... Stick to the right and hold on to the rails so that passengers in a hurry can get around you on the left.

Except in Tokyo Mary where one stands on the left. As for the rest of it, I don't know how we would survive without your advice.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Thank you Mummy ! But I seem to have been always doing all that anyway ! Next "lesson" ?

9 ( +8 / -0 )

In fact, the higher up the ladder you are, the better your manners should be. How else will anybody learn from you?

Very good advice.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

the elevator advise makes sense but will never work cause it requires people to actually care and think....

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

fightingviking: Thank you Mummy ! But I seem to have been always doing all that anyway ! Next "lesson" ?

You may well be polite and already have known all this but there's clearly a huge number of people out there to whom this is all new. I can't tell you the number of times I've tried to get off an elevator only to have someone push their way in before I'm half-way out. As for holding doors, ha! The general door rule here seems to be - pull it open only wide enough for yourself to squeeze through and don't look back! The only pity is that the ones who should be the target audience for this sensible article will likely never come across it.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

I can't tell you the number of times I've tried to get off an elevator only to have someone push their way in before I'm half-way out. As for holding doors, ha! The general door rule here seems to be - pull it open only wide enough for yourself to squeeze through and don't look back!

I've never been able to understand the Japanese reputation for politeness. Actually it seems to be largely western males who believe in that, women tend to have very different opinions.

What I hate is when a whole bunch of people will squeeze onto an elevator until it's at full capacity. They seem to enjoy hearing the sound of the overload buzzer. Where I come from, it's considered polite to wait for the next one.

Or what about that weird thing that a lot of Japanese people do immediately after getting off an escalator, or a train: stand stock still, right in front of the door, and gaze vacantly into the distance, oblivious to all the other people behind? I've never seen that kind of behaviour anywhere else in the world. Sometimes it's hard not to give them a gentle nudge from behind. Some of us have places to go, people!

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Well said Tessa!!

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

@Tessa - not hard at all to give them a nudge.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Nobody stands on the right on an escalator in Kyushu.

It's a Kansai thing, no?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Nobody stands on the right on an escalator in Kyushu.

I love Kyushu, but to be honest I haven't noticed an abundance of escalators there except in Hakata, so perhaps the whole left/right thing has yet to be decided. Anyone in the house from Nagoya? That should be the borderline, right?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Most of the rules or manners on elevator etiquette are based on common sense and common courtesy. In other words be polite.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I can see why Mary Mitchell's book is called 'The Complete Idiot's Guide to Etiquette' - only an idiot would need such basic, patronising advice! And yes, it's true that there are many people out there who could do with learning some basic manners, but the problem is that those people are not bothered about being polite, so they wouldn't even read, let alone follow, this advice. You are therefore preaching to the converted.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

No mention of Ladies First! Nothing worse than being on a crowded elevator in Japan and some middle-aged businessman tries to show off his Westernization by making everyone stop so "ladies" get off first. At least Mary Mitchell is writing from the 21st century.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

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