Pachter's Pointers:
Business Etiquette Tips & Career Suggestions


Etiquette Rules for the Sidewalk…and Other Walkways

Etiquette rules for the sidewalk? Sounds strange, doesn’t it. I’ll explain.

I’m a walker and just returned from a week at the beach where my friend and I walked almost every day. And since we walk about five miles each time, we pass a number of people along the way.

This vacation we noticed that navigating the sidewalks had became difficult. After my friend almost collided with someone, she exclaimed, “Barbara, you need to set some etiquette guidelines for the sidewalk!” I have gotten similar comments from employees about navigating the hallways at work.

Both the sidewalk and hallway involve the concept of sharing space with others, which I identify in my book The Power of Positive Confrontation as a potential cause for conflict. Yet, you can pass through these common spaces politely by following these simple guidelines:

1. Greet people. If you make eye contact with people, acknowledge them with a “hello” or “good morning.” Remember you don’t need to know someone to say hello to them. And if someone says hello to you, you have to say “hello” back. It’s not optional!

2. Make room for others. If you are walking with other people and taking up the whole sidewalk/hallway, it’s your responsibility to make room for someone coming the other way.

3. Pay attention to your surroundings. When you stop to chat with people and block the sidewalk/hallway, it’s your responsibility to move aside and let others pass.

4. Say “thank you.” If you are pushing a baby stroller and people are stepping off the sidewalk to let you pass, say “thank you.”

I don’t think people are deliberately trying to be rude—they’re often oblivious to their behavior and how it affects others.

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