How an employee conducts himself during the actual appraisal is very important. It is normal for people to feel anxious about performance reviews, but they should try as much as possible to stay calm throughout the process, even when receiving negative feedback. Any display of negative behaviour, violent reaction or misdemeanour can only discredit the employee.

Bear in mind that even if one's performance has been exemplary throughout the year, one should always be prepared for criticism and be ready to respond intelligently with factual evidence and in a very professional manner. The best approach, according to Lama Ataya of, is to keep a professional posture and attitude at all times, and to stay focused on the review.

"Employees should listen and understand what is being said, even if it may not be positive. It could still be in the employee's best interest," says Hazel Cowling of biz-group.

This does not mean the employee should just keep his mouth shut. When it's time to respond, the employee should present the facts and evidence calmly. "But they should avoid getting defensive as this only adds to the negative appraisal," says Cowling.

Instead, it would help to ask non-defensive questions to really understand the underlying facts behind the negative appraisal and investigate how this can be improved. "The employee should show willingness to find solutions. It is important to rise above negative exchanges and think of it as a business transaction and not something that is personal. This can often be difficult, but it is the best policy."

Dignity, mutual respect, actively listening and professionalism are the cornerstones of appropriate behaviour in any modern appraisal, Andrew McNeilis of Talent2 International points out. "All too often people only ever hear what they want to hear in an appraisal. Keeping a calm environment is essential — emotional outbursts are unhelpful. If you care about your performance and are criticised by your boss, then naturally it hurts. Don't be defensive, ask for the facts, the evidence, and try and see the facts rather than the fury." "Remember Sara — shock, anger, rejection, acceptance — this is the natural process we go through when we are criticised. The quicker you get to accepting the facts, the sooner you will improve," he adds. There are times when, after the performance review, the employee feels the appraisal was unfair. If this happens, the employee should take a breather, review the appraisal and later ask the manager for a little time to understand the feedback provided before embarking on anything formal. Cowling said if nothing comes of this, the empoyee should appeal. In the absence of an appeal process, she suggests the employee speak to the human resource manager.