Everyone has to take the elevator on a somewhat regular basis. I'm usually #teamstairs but sometimes there are some mountains too tall to climb. Sometimes the door to the stairs is locked, and sometimes your destination is over 10 flights up. Regardless, you'll have to take a trip up through the metal box of awkwardness every now and then. Riding in an elevator has its ups and downs, but there are some simple rules that people need to follow, and some common misconceptions.
When you're deciding whether to take the elevator or not, there is an unwritten "two-flight" rule. This simply means that if you are only going up two flights of stairs or less and stairs are readily available, then you should probably take the stairs instead. Going up just one or two floors in a crowded elevator will sometimes tick off the other riders. There are exceptions to this rule of course, like if you're handicapped, elderly, or if you have a stroller with you or any other large items.
This is a hot topic up for debate. Normally it's instinctively polite to hold a regular door for people but in elevators, it's in question. If you're alone on the elevator, it is up to you if you think you should hold the door or not. When there starts to be more people though, it becomes problematic. If the elevator is pretty full, then you probably shouldn't be holding the door for anybody. When it's only partially full, the idea is that if someone is scrambling towards trying to make it in the elevator, then you should hold the door and let them in. If they act casual and nonchalant, then it is not considered impolite to let the door close on them. A general rule of thumb is that you shouldn't be holding the elevator door for longer that 15 to 20 seconds.
Riding in an elevator seems pretty simple, but there are some experiences that people have had that make these rules almost a necessity. When you're in an elevator, make sure you maintain your personal space and respect everyone else's. You have to be careful because some people can be very claustrophobic and riding in elevators can be a very uncomfortable situation for them. I think a good way to think of how to arrange people in an elevator is to think of how the dots on dice are dispersed. If there's one dot, it's right in the middle. If there's two dots, they're spread to the corners. Three dots is maybe not a good example because they're in a diagonal line, but after that (4,5, and 6) it works pretty well.
Everyone should really maintain the same pose and direction when inside an elevator. Keep your hands to yourself at your side and face the direction of the elevator doors. Try and be polite by pushing buttons for people if they ask, usually because you are located near the button wall. You should try to refrain from making eye contact with strangers on an elevator and whatever you do, do NOT talk on the phone while you're on an elevator with other people. Nobody wants to hear your one-sided conversation so you should politely hang up and call them back at a better time.
This is where things get mad confusing and awkward. If a crowded elevator is making a bunch of individual stops on separate floors, then it doesn't matter who gets off first, it just matters that the people who need to get off can get off. If the people who are getting off are in the back, this may require the people in front to exit the elevator momentarily by holding the door and letting people out. If everyone is getting out at the same time, for example on the bottom floor, then guys should be chivalrous to girls and let them go first. If there are guys in the front of a crowded elevator when everyone's getting off, then it's ok to push chivalry to the side and just exit the elevator as quickly as possible.
It can sometimes be dangerous for a female to be in an elevator alone. Some female journalists have spoken about new guidelines that people should follow when alone with a stranger. They say that if a guy is alone in the elevator with a girl he doesn't know, and is going to the same floor by coincidence, then he should attempt to leave the elevator first so the girl is not being followed by him. If for some reason the girl gets in front of him, she should find an excuse to stay behind, like faking a phone call or looking out the window.
It can always be difficult for people to remember these rules, especially if they haven't been in a crowded elevator in a long time. Hopefully with this article as a reference, you won't even have to think about it the next time you ride.