What’s your Elevator Behaviour?

I walked into an elevator in a large office tower yesterday. There were about half a dozen people with me on this short trip down multiple flights. I looked around me and observed everyone’s behaviour. It was so interesting to watch the various stances and activities undertaken by the group around me. It got me thinking: what’s your elevator behaviour?

There were mirrors all over the elevator I rode in yesterday. It didn’t have just a mirrored door. The whole elevator – the door, walls and even the ceiling had mirrors. So, the first thing I did when I walked in: I looked at myself. I didn’t mean to, but where else was I going to look?

You see, no one wants to make eye contact on an elevator. It’s uncomfortable. I noticed that unless people were looking at their smartphones (more on that in a moment), they looked everywhere except at other people. They got a good look at their feet, their hands and definitely the ceiling. But the body language was clear and uncomfortable: we were all thinking, just get me down to the ground floor and out so I don’t have to look at the guy beside me.

Have you ever ridden on a very full elevator? I like my personal space, and when it’s packed, there is no personal space. I don’t need to smell what the guy beside me had for breakfast that morning or the body odour of the person behind me. If I can feel the breath on my cheek of the person to my left and touch a bit too much skin of the person on my right then I am not a happy person.

What do you do when you are alone? Do you talk to yourself? Do you look around? Maybe you just stand there and watch the numbers light up as you travel through the floors? I personally watch the floor numbers and doors and hope it doesn’t stop. I do not like to share my elevator with other people.

But what do you do if that dreaded event happens? You are standing there, happily, alone in an elevator, and it stops, and the door opens. On walks a group of people, all chattering loudly. They discuss where they want to go for lunch or the boss they all dislike or who was kicked off The Bachelor the night before (which is awful if I haven’t watched the previous night’s episode yet!).

So, let’s get to what most of us do when we wait for an elevator, when we ride one and when we get off – we look at our smartphones. We are addicted to our smartphones. We look at them when we are bored and have nothing else to. Or we pull them out of our pockets when we are uncomfortable and have to do something other than look up at the people around us.

What do you check first when you pull out that smartphone on an elevator? I looked around me yesterday on the elevator and tried to see if people were on Facebook, checking email or if they flicked on Angry Birds (do people still play that game?). But did it really matter what they were looking at? The fact is, everyone around me found an escape from the uncomfortable nature of an elevator in their smartphone. Maybe it made the ride go faster.

Whatever your behaviour is on an elevator, I hope you always get to your destination – whether it is up or down – safely. I have been stuck on an elevator a couple of times, and that was awful. So, what is your elevator behaviour? Leave me a comment here, post to Facebook or Tweet me @AliciaRichler.

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