To some people, elevators may just be a convenient mode of transportation between floors, but do we really understand the unspoken social interactions and altered behavior that occur while within these close quarters?
After you push the elevator call button, you watch anxiously as the numbered floor lights illuminate as they get closer. When it arrives you hear a “ding” that triggers a rush of anxiety flowing through your body.
The doors open and you peer inside the elevator with everyone glaring right back at you. It is in that instant that you come to the realization that you are about to enter a completely different social environment affected by many different factors.
Back it up son
Proximity is one of the most important factors while riding in an elevator. Personal distance during a normal conversation, is usually about 20 to 36 inches, according to Judie Haynes’ article “Proxemics and U.S. Culture.” If we do not know a person, we will stand 2 to 4 feet away from him or her. As a result, when you are on an elevator you are almost forced out of your comfort zone by the confines of the elevator.
Avoid breaking into your fellow elevator riders’ personal space by adhering to one simple rule. We know you’re late to class, but please, if the elevator doors open and 30 people are there, do NOT shrug and say, “Room for one more.” Because there’s not.
Personal proximity is also violated by the junk your fellow elevator-riders bring onboard: bulky poster boards, overstuffed bags and the rolling backpack. Let’s make a rule: If you must have wheels, only jump on an elevator with three people or less. Otherwise, if looks could kill, you’d be dead.
Follow the silent rules
Haynes’ research states that once you’re within the walls of an elevator, there is certain etiquette you must adhere to in order to remain socially acceptable.
It’s an unspoken trust you have with your elevator cellmates not to violate any of these rules. Do not make eye contact, do not speak unless spoken to, casually press the button that corresponds to your floor destination, face forward and definitely try not to touch anyone.
However, though rolling backpacks seem to prevail at NKU, assistant professor of psychology Kathleen Fuegen said such uncouth individuals are actually few and far between.
“People usually don’t violate these norms for fear of how the other people may react,” she said.
In other words, no one wants to be ostracized for violating the rules of society.
When following leads to boredom