Should you ever find yourself riding the elevator with the leader of your company, you have a few different options:
A) Immediately press the button for the floor below so you can escape
B) Stare straight ahead without making eye contact or moving a muscle so as to convince your CEO that you’ve disappeared
C) Conduct yourself like a normal human being
Trust us — option C is harder than it sounds. To find out exactly how a normal human being behaves in this situation, we asked Rosalinda Oropeza Randall, an etiquette and civility expert and the author of “Don’t Burp in the Boardroom” for her best advice on not making a fool of yourself.
First, Randall said, if you haven’t yet met your CEO personally, introduce yourself: “Good morning, [your CEO’s name]. I’m [your first and last name.]” Be sure to make eye contact, smile, and extend your right hand to shake.
Then bring up something timely and relevant to the company. So if the holidays just passed, you can say, “By the way, thank you. That [company party] was a great idea. It’s my first year here and I’ve never worked at a company that was so generous.”
Or, if you heard that your CEO was travelling abroad recently, ask about their trip.
Another option is to talk about a recent project your department completed.
That said, if you don’t know much about company news, or can’t think of anything on the spot, Randall said it’s fine to stay more general and ask your boss how their holidays were, for example.
At the same time, Randall cautions that if you try to start a conversation with your boss and notice that they give a curt response or look down at their phone, take the hint. Be quiet for the rest of the ride.
Even in the case that your CEO isn’t that talkative, make sure to say, “Nice to meet you” as you exit the elevator.
Most importantly, Randall says you should “never, ever” use this opportunity to complain — about being underpaid, not being promoted, or whatever you’re upset about. Same goes for addressing company rumours.
Stay positive, and keep it classy.
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