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How to Respond to a Negative Performance Evaluation in Writing

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Most workplaces conduct evaluations of their employees on annual basis. These assessments of performance and conduct can be a nerve-wracking experience for employees, as often pay raises and promotions are determined based on the results of the evaluation. Although it isn't likely that you can change the outcome of a negative evaluation, it's your right to respond and state your official disagreement in writing.

Sign the review if required. Your signature on an evaluation does not imply that you agree with what was said in the review, only that you received it. Most evaluations will have an area where you can make comments or express concerns. State briefly that you disagree with the negative evaluation and that you will provide a written formal response to that affect.

Explain your disagreement. Your letter should be written in a manner that is clear and concise. Keep the letter to one page, and for legibility it should be typed and not handwritten. Include the date of the review in your letter and the date that your letter of rebuttal was written.

Write statements about your positive performance and job contributions in your letter and offer examples when possible. Avoid sounding defensive or angry--take the time to cool down after your evaluation before writing out a response. A verbal show of anger or defensiveness can be read as a sign of guilt on your part.

Address only your performance when writing out your rebuttal. If there are other employees who are poor workers or who have created difficulties for you at work, avoid adding them to your letter. This will reflect poorly on you and give the impression that you are admitting to and excusing your poor performance.

Sign your letter before submitting it. Make a copy for your own records and attach it to your copy of the evaluation. Create a file at home to keep work-related correspondence in one location. Request that your supervisor keep a copy of the review in your employee file.


Avoid writing anything that could reflect poorly on you in the future as your letter will become a permanent part of your employee file.

  • Avoid writing anything that could reflect poorly on you in the future as your letter will become a permanent part of your employee file.

Mai Bryant is a Northern California writer who specializes in writing about health-related topics, fashion and relationships. She began writing online in 2005 but has freelanced privately for more than 10 years. Bryant's eclectic professional background as a medical technician, a licensed cosmetologist, copywriter and event planner allows her to write with authority on numerous topics.

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