Sunday, 19 January 2020
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The lift – an El Dorado for gaffes?

Courtesy and good manners are back in fashion. Courses on how to behave are offered and enjoy lively attendance – especially by young people. After all, "Courtesy is capital that enriches those who spend it,” according to a Persian saying.


This is particularly true of the time spent in lifts. If you google the words "lift” and "code of conduct,” there is a host of new pages where unsure lift-users can find help. Enforced close proximity in small transport cars seems to be a problem and require extra rules.

Everyone has their own comfort zone

The proper distance to keep is highly individual, according to a big business magazine. After all, everyone has their own comfort zone which no one else should enter. Consequently, you should keep the greatest possible distance. This means that two people always position themselves at the two opposite walls, three to four people occupy the corners of the lift. But what if the lift is packed? Spread out evenly, look straight ahead and keep your hands directly against your body to avoid touching anyone, is the advice given.

However, you may risk a smile. According to a major tabloid, those entering a full lift should nod and smile in a friendly way to their fellow passengers, even a greeting is permitted to relax the unpleasant situation of standing close to each other. What counts is keeping it brief and not staring at anyone. Verbal proximity should be avoided too. recommends conversation related to the situation, especially with strangers, along the lines, "What floor? "Pressing the button for the stranger is then an especially polite gesture.

Looking downward conveys insecurity

Speaking quietly is a given, making calls in the lift is regarded as a faux pas. Teasing of the kind such as "What shall we do if the lift gets stuck?” is absolutely taboo, according to a newspaper.

What about eye-contact? Where are you to look with so many pairs of eyes around you? The unanimous recommendation is to gaze directly at the doors; looking downward conveys insecurity.

The Berlin journalist and author Walter Kiaulehn noted more than 50 years ago, "Courtesy is the third arm that permits us to keep those who come too close at a distance.”"

Well – good luck!  

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