I work in a facility where it is open to the public except for a small section. I work in this section and this section requires an access card when entering the door (anyone can buy one, but it is expensive). Inside this section is many expensive equipments. On the door, there is the notice "Do not let others follow you in". Other people usually open the door even if they don't know the person on the other side of the glass door. My room is next to the door and I can see who is outside the door (they can also see and hear me inside).

How can I politely refuse to let strangers in? My coworkers regularly open the doors to people they don't know and security knows about this issue - they only give a verbal warning and let it go.

I have tried ignoring them and opening the door to point to the notice (and not letting them in).

People also knock on the window which I find extremely annoying.

  • 1
    Hi there, welcome to IPS. You say you ignore or point to the notice, but have you talked to any if these persons? And what did you say? And what was their answer/reaction ?
    – OldPadawan
    Feb 29, 2020 at 19:47
  • @OldPadawan They usually say "I know we need our own access card but can you let me in just this time" or "I will get an access card soon". If I don't open the door and ignore them, they will try to get my attention by knocking on the window or making gestures pointing to the door. They will then wait until someone opens the door for them or follows someone else in.
    – bqwyevosc
    Feb 29, 2020 at 20:01
  • 1
    So, they know for sure that they're cheating, seems to help you easily enforce the rule after that, don't you think?
    – OldPadawan
    Feb 29, 2020 at 20:04
  • 3
    So, for you, just setting boundaries and being ferm (like : "sorry, but no, I won't break the rule") isn't an option (or just enough?)?
    – OldPadawan
    Feb 29, 2020 at 20:07
  • 1
    This sounds strange to me, perhaps it would help people understand the situation if you could explain why people are allowed to enter if everyone can buy such a card, why others let everyone in despite they shouldn't and why management seems to not care about that.
    – puck
    Mar 1, 2020 at 11:14

3 Answers 3


You can't without angering people.

These people know they aren't following the rules. They also know they can get away with it. They know people will let them in because they don't want to be rude, and they are taking advantage of that. People who do this often get aggressive when they're refused, because they know this will often get the person refusing them to back down.

I know this because I used to work at a returns desk at a large retail store. I saw the exact same thing every day: people trying to return stuff against policy, often things they broke or stole. They knew most people would do it if they made enough of a fuss, so that's what they did. Why would they follow the rules if they can get away with breaking them and get what they want?

To deal with the immediate problem, really all you can do is politely but firmly state you cannot let them in, and they need to use an access card to enter instead. They will argue with you, say other people let them in, that it causes no harm, why do you even care when it doesn't affect you, etc. etc. Don't give them any justifications, as that will just give them something to argue against; you are not going to convince them. Simply say you cannot let them in, then shut the door. Many people will consider that rude, but it's more rude of them to attempt to take advantage of your politeness, so try not to feel bad about it.

In the long term, you need to get management and/or security on your side. Tell them the issue you are having, and explain how you cannot possibly enforce this rule when everyone else is setting the expectation that it's okay to break it. Ask them what to do if somebody tries to get in without a card or if you witness someone else allowing an unauthorized person in. Should you say something but not push it if they argue? Should you call security? If possible, email them a summary of your conversation to help cover yourself if something happens later.

Ultimately management may not care enough to take any action until it becomes a problem. That puts you in a tough spot, and you'll have to decide whether you want to risk getting in trouble when a problem inevitably occurs or if you'd rather deal with being the only person who tries to enforce the rules.


Broken record method.

Please use card to gain access. Please use CARD to gain access. Please USE card to gain access.

Do not take responsibility. Do not blame rules. Explain it's the doors that require that.

But, most importantly, talk with a supervisor or manager about enforcing the rule on your coworkers because it's not only disturbing your work (important to you) but make company lose money (important to company).

I work in similar environment and for similar reasons the doors on the lab (already stickered with information about why the doors won't open) have a big one that reads "Do not tap on the glass. Session in progress. It disturbs the equipment".

The equipment are the people there. The session is whatever they're doing.

But we have strict rules about letting people in. Even if you have badge following someone holding doors open to you you need to "ping" yourself to prove you have access to that part.

We have been taught some excuses if we are pushed and we lack social skills to just say no:

Fire hazard regulations. Everyone in must ping themself in for evacuation purposes.

Science rules. There is limited amount of human heaters allowed in. Some stuff need to know when to change program if there is too hot in here.

I can escort you to front desk but right now I'm busy. Can you wait 30 minutes right outside the door until I'm finish?

But again talk with a supervisor or manager about enforcing the rule on your coworkers. A rule that is broken is not a rule anymore until someone needs to be punished by it.


I have never ever heard of access being controlled by means that are expensive and open to anyone. And also, access card but no intercom? No wonder you get annoyed to open the door so much!

Because you are regularly annoyed by people outside the window (regardless if you open or not), you have material for complaining to your management about the issue. Making sure you work in decent conditions is their responsibility, and they have hands on the root causes of the problem. If they are unwilling to deal with that, they can at least give you their go for some coping methods such as obstructing the window.

Meanwhile, having forgotten my access card a few times in my job, I would say leaving someone outside is never going to look polite. It's your freedom to do so and might be the best way to focus on your activities but it's not going to be easily understood in a context where people seem generally careless about security.

If you refuse them out of security concern you could alternatively be asking strangers who they come for or what is the reason for their visit and get the people that know them to greet them. In some cases you could also ask the stranger to phone call that person, so you would save a bit of the extra effort. This way you made sure they are monitored, but also show care that they can get in if they should.

While this could be the proper way to deal with the situation, this is also not your job to be the door guy and if this is too frequent to be bearable then you are back to simply make your best effort to ignore them.

  • Last paragraph is a big red flag and no-go for me, because you may end up being that door guy who's annoyed every xx minutes/twenty times a day... You may add that warning maybe.
    – OldPadawan
    Mar 1, 2020 at 6:47
  • @OldPadawan I'll add that warning.
    – Diane M
    Mar 1, 2020 at 8:13

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