Why do we behave strangely in elevators? It is a question that we rarely ask ourselves, perhaps because we are simply not aware of it. But it is something that happens frequently and has to do with the peculiar circumstance that occurs at the moment of staying locked in the elevator, even for a period of time necessarily short. At Astarlifts we have studied why it happens.
In general, our behavior in the elevator responds to our way of being, but also exhibits peculiar patterns. In general, the human response in this situation responds to how uncomfortable we feel in general and the context we face. Because the elevator in our house is not the same as another full of people in an unknown place.
Avoid physical contact
There are a couple of elements that are repeated as a guideline of the occupant of the elevator. The first, the rotation in the movement based on the number of people entering, basically, related to the preference to avoid physical contact with the neighbor. And the second, the possible distance between the occupants of the elevator. The protection of one's privacy becomes a key factor here.
According to some scholars of the matter, the geometric figure that would help us understand the pattern of behavior of people in an elevator would be the one of the dice. This means that we are placed inside an elevator in a way similar to how the points on each side of the die are aligned, from one to six. All this according to an objective: to avoid any discomfort.
Because, as if it were a predetermined dance, human beings respond to a predictable behavior, more than we could think a priori, when the elevator door opens and we are forced to share the always limited space of the cabin. We instinctively occupy a space and rotate to make room. The law of the dice, as we have explained.
So if we are two, it is normal to occupy the corners of the passenger compartment, because this location guarantees the greatest possible distance. We will rotate to follow the same rule when there are three or four occupants, and so on. Seen with perspective, it is precisely that, of a dance probably unconscious, that bothers us as the number of occupants grows.
From there, another guideline is imposed: silence. It can be long, although we can not ignore that the elevator movement is necessarily short, a few seconds in general. Our general loquacity is interrupted at that moment, even if we are accompanied and we are immersed in a fun chat. The rule is to make a verbal pause during the journey.
And since we can not move and have given up the conversation, what do we do? The alternatives are not too many and the answers to this panorama are still funny. Three alternatives come to mind: we look at the ground; we contemplate the luminous signs that indicate to us in which plant we are and, oh, novelty !, we look at the mobile phone without concrete objective.
The awkwardness as a guideline
As a rule, inside an elevator we move with awkwardness. This is stated by Professor Babette Renneberg, a psychologist at the Free University of Berlin. "Usually, when we meet other people, we keep a distance of about an arm between us. And that is not possible in most elevators, so it is a very unusual environment, "explains the German expert.
And this happens because in such a small and closed space it becomes vital to act in a way that can not be interpreted as threatening, strange or in any way ambiguous. The easiest way to do this is to avoid eye contact and, of course, avoid unnecessary conversations. All this leads us, then, to the same behavior: containment and disguised discomfort.
The subconscious hides a hypothesis as unlikely as feared: the possibility that a fault keeps us locked for a long time, either alone (bad) or accompanied, which can be worse or a relief depending on who is at our side. And all this, even being aware that it is an almost impossible hypothesis given the reliability of the elevators.
Because statistics do not deceive: the elevator is one of the most reliable mechanical instruments that exist and the accident rate in them is below the smallest in statistical terms. More than one hundred thousand million trips and up and down every day without incident. Of course much safer than the escalators and, of course, also to walk the streets.
This may have to do with another instinctive reaction that invades us when climbing an elevator: we do not own our space. That is something that protects us: feel ownership of the place we walk, be our house, the workplace and even the public road, which, in general, there is room for all walkers. But the elevator cuts us off, that is, it takes away our power.
Be that as it may, the rules when it comes to getting into an elevator are not definitely clear for many people either. Are you supposed to hold the door? Should you talk to other passengers or, on the contrary, not make eye contact? For many, entering the elevator cabin can be a stressful situation, due to claustrophobia, fear of heights and social anxiety.
We are going to explain some elementary guidelines on how to behave in that circumstance. They are very elementary rules associated, above all, with education and common sense.
Wait away from the door, to the right
It is advisable to stop to the right while waiting for the opening of the elevator doors. While waiting, it is better to stay away from the doors. Someone may be coming out on this floor, and, as they say in colloquial language; "Before entering, let them out". If we stay there, we will facilitate the departure of people who get off the elevator on the same floor. Let's hope that all people who want to leave the cabin do so before entering. This may seem elementary, but in practice it is not so.
When to hold the door and when not
The answer to this question, when you have to keep the door open and when not, has to do with the number of people occupying the cabin. As a general recommendation, we do not recommend holding the door if you are in an elevator full of people, because it will delay the journey in the endeavor, quite complicated, of course, to put one more occupant in an already crowded space. On the contrary, if we are the sole occupant of the elevator, it is a good rule of education to facilitate access for other occupants.
In a full elevator, better not
Do not try to get into a full elevator abruptly. When the elevator doors open and we see that it is full, do not try to be that nasty person who gets into the elevator when it just does not fit. In this situation, resignation is our ally, so let us wait patiently for the next one. It is a rule of elementary courtesy that, in addition, will not cost us that much time either.
The button, yes when we are close
Should we press the elevator buttons on demand of the other occupants? Yes, when by our location in the cabin we are closest to the device that activates the elevator. The best thing to do is to wait for each occupant to press the button on the floor to which they are going, but this is not always possible depending on the number of occupants of the cabin and the dimensions of it. We can always do that favor to our companions. If we can not press the button, it is correct that others do it.
Better to go to the back of the cabin
Once inside the passenger compartment, we must occupy the free space following a basic rule: follow to the bottom when the elevator is empty, that is, move to the back of the cabin. We should stay as far away from the door as we know we will be the last person to leave. If we travel to the top floor of the building, it is better to stay further away from the doors. In this way, we will avoid inconveniencing others. And, for the same reason, we will have to avoid moving too much inside the cabin.
Respect the privacy of others
We are social animals. But an elevator can be an invasive space, because it is small and puts our privacy at risk. Perhaps we intend to establish a conversation with a stranger who occupies the same cabin as us. But the other person may not have any interest, which we will immediately perceive. In that case, you never have to insist.
We will leave quickly
When we get to our apartment, let's get out quickly so that those who hope to come up can do so. However, let's not push our way or hit people in the process. If we are in the back, we will have to announce that our floor is next as it approaches.