While writing detailed documentation about harassment I'm experiencing, what's the best way to keep it professional without losing its emphasis?

For example, my manager called me on Skype and said "I miss the sound of your voice." Afterword, I wrote down the date and time, what was said, listed witnesses, and described the situation and its impact on me.

Needless to say this felt creepy, and made me want to run away screaming -- to write this, however, seems unprofessional to me. On the other hand, if I use more professional terms like "unsettled" or "uncomfortable," I don't believe they capture my feelings accurately. I also fear that these words are going to be overused in my report.

How can I best document this activity, keep it professional, but still accurately portray the intense feelings this causes for me?

  • 3
    "Her eyes welled up with contemptuous joy" - this kind of writing might fit in a novel. But not in a report containing facts. You probably should stick to the raw facts in your report.
    – Brandin
    Feb 27, 2016 at 0:47
  • Just a tip because I hate to see anyone go through this. Too much documentation before you report it to someone is not a good thing. I had a friend go through something similar. She won her judgement but it was quite small. I believe it was because she was deemed as baiting the harasser which is probably true ... but why does that matter right? But it does in most cases so if you have a laundry list know that it is probably the same as having a couple instances. Also creepy is creepy, unprofessional for sure, harassing... who knows.
    – blankip
    Feb 27, 2016 at 5:24
  • 2
    This will be 6 closed questions in a row. Problems just seem to find you.
    – paparazzo
    Feb 27, 2016 at 9:20

1 Answer 1


The best way to avoid appearing unprofessional in documentation is too keep things strictly to the facts and true information of the situation. Avoid editorial phrases such as "I think...", "I felt...", "In my opinion...", etc. Indirect editorials should be avoided too; these are phrases such as "The worst [incident] was ...", "Even better...", "Interestingly [enough],...". These phrases prioritize or compare other notes and do so without using evidence/facts. Editorializing can make you appear over emotional (something you will have to combat, sadly). A good method for your situation would be to state all the facts with minimal (i.e. none) editorials. At the end of the documentation of the incident(s) you can state the following which serves a summary and place to express your emotional perspective. This approach lends your emotional perspective to the situation without coloring the documentation.

"As I have stated [above], the noted incidents have left me feeling [uncomfortable, uneasy, unsettled and concerned for my personal safety.] I feel this behavior [is both unprofessional and borders upon sexual harassment]. No employee should be treated like this nor feel this way concerning their job, colleagues, manager, or company. I would like [to be moved to another department or assigned another manager.] ..."

Obviously the above is just a rough template and you should express yourself in your own professional sense, but do not go overboard (i.e. keep it to a paragraph and summation). This presents your side of the case in a professional manner while accomplishing 4 key principles:

  1. Provide the most accurate incident information possible
  2. Maintain a professional image at all times
  3. Express your concerns and self in a factual and business motivated sense
  4. Show an appropriate level of emotional involvement and effect

Remember, documenting a case (assuming the goal is to make a change of some sort) requires an extreme level of control and discipline. Knowing when to add emotionally charged responses and statements are critical to achieving this goal. On some level, you are manipulating your readers and any master manipulator will tell you, the cardinal rule is to keep your emotions in check so they can be properly utilized when needed. Depending on the level this gets too, the more factual you sound the better you look (both in person and on paper). Of course being robotic about a situation will be just as bad as being hysterical.


As Joe S. stated, if this has been a reoccurring issue and you plan on taking legal action then you should indeed consult a lawyer on the specifics. There is a specific way to present harassment cases in court and knowing the approach a legal professional will take is the best (if you plan on going that far).

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