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Elevator Talk: Yes or No?

Posted by Peter Post  January 29, 2013 07:00 AM

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“What a coincidence. We’re both going to the same place.” I had just entered an elevator on the 28th floor of the Borgata Hotel in Atlantic City where I’m conducting a seminar this afternoon. After the doors closed the person who entered the elevator with me had looked at me, smiled and made his comment. It was just the two of us in the elevator.

I responded briefly to his comment with, “Yes, it probably makes sense” as we were both going to the lobby. And then I smiled, and we were quiet for the remainder of the trip.

Other elevator rides during my stay got me thinking about how people interact on elevators. Do they make an attempt at conversation or not? And if they do, when do they seem willing to engage and when do they avoid making a comment?

Usually, when I entered an elevator that was already occupied, the person would smile and maybe nod in greeting or say “hello.” But if more than one person occupied the elevator or more than one person entered the elevator, never was any attempt made at conversation. However, if the people entering or already on the elevator knew each other, they would carry on with their conversation.

But when it was just one other person, then conversation or at least a comment was more likely. The most likely interaction would be to offer to push a floor button. But a real conversation starter, such as the one with my lone companion, that was unusual. Nice, but unusual.

I’m wondering what you think about elevator talk. Do you try to start a conversation with a person in an elevator when it’s just the two of you, or do you think it is better to ride in silence? And if you are in a group, is it okay for your group to carry on a conversation when people you don’t know are in the elevator; or should you pause your conversation until the elevator has reached your destination? Click here to take the Emily Post Elevator Talk poll. Thank you.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Since 2004, Peter Post has tackled readers' questions in The Boston Sunday Globe's weekly business etiquette advice column, Etiquette at Work. Post is the co-author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business" and conducts business etiquette seminars across the country. In October 2003 his book "Essential Manners For Men" was released and quickly became a New York Times best seller. He is also the author of "Essential Manners for Couples," "Playing Through–A Guide to the Unwritten Rules of Golf," and co-author of "A Wedding Like No Other." Post is Emily Post's great-grandson. His media appearances include "CBS Sunday Morning," CBS's "The Early Show," NBC's "Today," ABC's "Good Morning America," and "Fox News."

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