The Elevator Code

You know about the Elevator Pitch.

Here’s the Elevator Code.

I heard about it at a client meeting. A sizeable financial services company. A senior executive brought it up.

We have a Leadership Council, the spunky leader stated. We want folks to engage with each other. We believe it’s good for business. So we created a company Elevator Code.

The code:

Ride the elevator, and we expect you to say hello to people.

Simple, isn’t it? It means not plugging into your head-phones. It means no texting or other solitary pleasures. No avoiding the other human being in your space.


Be a social creature, for the short duration of the ride. With the colleague you know. With the colleague you don’t know. With the stranger who is visiting your firm.

Engagement energy activated on the ride up. Energized for the work to come.

Some folks hated this at first, our spunky leader elaborates. They always rode the elevator at the same time, with the some folks. They had never engaged. Their first instinct was to ride the elevator at a different time.

Shocking, isn’t it?

By the second hello, she explains, it was oh yeah, great to see you.

The Elevator Code Happy Ending. It’s how acting human works.

I have my own elevator code. My sushi-counter code. My sit-on-the-airplane code. My smile-at-a-stranger code.

Don’t hide behind the narrative of who you think you are. I’m an introvert. I’m not a morning person. I’m not really a social creature.


This is not about the story you have about yourself. This is about engagement habits. Habits that energize you and others. Habits that connect you to the human spirit. Habits with happy endings.

Here’s what I have learned from my own engagement codes. This comes to you from someone who tips toward the introversion end on the social engagement scale:

I am respectful of the person that doesn’t wish to engage.

Even the person with the “wall up” is often happy to engage.

Because darn’ it, we’re all human.

Choose your engagement codes. Choose more than one. Not the required, I-have-to-speak-up-at-a-meeting codes. No, the un-obligatory ones.

An Elevator Code is a good place to begin.

Happy endings await.