Posted by: Rachel Cates | February 3, 2011

How to Handle a Reprimand from Your Boss

Imagine your shock when your boss asks you to “come into the office and close the door”. You walk into the office wide-eyed with curiosity and apprehension. With a tone of irritation, your boss informs you that some aspect of your work product or performance has failed to live up to company standards. On fire with indignation, you respond with feelings of anger and resentment, and before the end of the day, you are out of a job.

Before you say something that could potentially ruin your career, consider a different approach that can save your job and remind your boss why she hired you in the first place.

1.  Practice Good Listening Skills:  While you are in the process of discovering what went wrong, really focus on listening to what is being said and repeat what you heard back to your boss. When you are stressed, your short-term memory is not as efficient. The act of reiterating will help you to fully process what was said so that you can respond to that and not some misinterpretation fueled by your emotions.

2. Understand Your Bosses Perspective:  Try to get a good understanding of the situation and the impact it has on the company. Ask questions for clarity, but only if you can do so without sounding confrontational.

3.  Be Accountable:  It is human to error. Own up to any mistakes that you have made.  Use this as an opportunity for personal and professional growth.  Offer suggestions on how you could fix the problem or how you would respond to this situation in the future.

4.  Your Perspective:  If your boss has inaccurate information, such as, she is reprimanding you for the failure of a project that wasn’t yours, then it is important that you bring this fact to her attention.  If you are responsible, explain what happened, but make sure that the focus is on the lessons you have learned and ways to move forward.

Extra Advice:

*** Take Notes and Collect Evidence:  Sometimes a reprimand is the first indication that your boss is beginning the process of disciplinary action, such as suspension or termination.  After your meeting, take notes in detail listing the date and the issues that were addressed.  Don’t leave anything out.  These notes can later be used to substantiate an appeal or an Unemployment Insurance claim. 

If you feel that you are subject to unfair or potentially unlawful treatment, such as, discrimination, wrongful termination, or retaliation, then you should also collect evidence such as e-mails, voicemails, or timesheets to substantiate your case.



  1. Yet again, your message is right on point! Thank you for sharing your wisdom and insight.

    Janice Leek

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: