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Sometimes individuals are unsure whether or not the way they are being treated is acceptable.  If this applies to you there are a number of points to consider, including:

  • Do you believe your manager is applying good management practices?

  • Do you have a copy of your role description, and are you clear about what is expected of you in your role?Do you need any training or coaching?

  • Has there been a change of management or organisational change to which you need time to adjust – perhaps because you have a new line manager or work requirements?

It may be useful to refer to Section A.3 which provides examples of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour.  It may also be helpful, in the first instance, if you feel able, to discuss your concerns with your manager.

If the behaviour includes messages or offensive material sent to you by email and you can identify the source of the messages, you should follow the advice below. If you cannot identify the source of the material, you can, in the first instance, send an email to and a senior member of the Computing Service will look into the matter.  You should keep your Institutional Administrator informed. 

Personal approach

  • You may want to keep a factual, chronological record of the incidents which are causing you distress (describing what happened and how you felt about it).

  • If you are unhappy with somebody's behaviour towards you and feel able to tell him or her how you feel and what you would like to see changed, either face to face or by letter or email, this may resolve the situation and restore good working relationships (see the Personal approach section in the Dignity at Work Procedure).It is important that you give specific examples of the unacceptable behaviour, and can say why this has made you feel uncomfortable in a calm, clear and factual way.

  • If you want to communicate this message informally by letter, you will find a suggested form of words below.If you wish, a Dignity@Work Contact can help you to write the letter.

  • You may want to ask for the support of a Dignity@Work Contact, work colleague, or other source of support (See section B.1), to help you to work out what to say.You may wish to inform a colleague before you approach the person concerned, even if you feel able to take this action on your own.

  • However you take your complaint forward, you should make every effort to work constructively with the person you are complaining about both during and after the process.

    Using the right words

    These are an example of some words which it may be helpful to use in a letter or in discussion:

  • Describe the behaviour very precisely, and where and when it happened. If you are vague the person causing the problem may not understand what you are talking about.

  • Tell the person how you feel about what has happened.

  • Describe the effect it is having on you (you may find you are avoiding the person, or working less effectively so that your work performance is affected).

  • Say precisely what you would like to happen, including the steps outlined in the 3 points above.You could write or say:

  • On the [date/day], at [time], you [describe the behaviour precisely]. When you [behaviour] I felt [describe your feelings and reactions.].I wish to try and resolve this matter with you informally in a constructive and positive way.

Informal approach with support

If you feel unable or reluctant to  approach the other party on your own, you may want to obtain advice or ask for support from a colleague,  your Manager, local HR staff,  Institutional Administrator or HR Business Manager/Adviser assigned to your School 

Formal procedure

If it has not been possible to resolve the matter informally or if the alleged behaviour is deemed by you, or the Head of Institution, in consultation with the relevant HR Business Manager/Adviser, to be sufficiently serious, it may warrant an immediate formal investigation under the formal Dignity at Work procedure.