This Is the Single Worst Thing You Could Say During a Performance Review

It’s perfectly normal to be stressed out when your performance review is due. And it might be almost as stressful for your boss as it is for you. It’s an awful feeling to be anxious before a review — and the anticipation is enough to drive you mad — but you can at least develop a strategy before it occurs. That strategy might help lower your dread level.

There are things that are acceptable to say at a performance review and things that definitely are not. Before you get your yearly review, find out the absolute worst thing you can say to your boss during it.

Darlene Price, president of Well Said Inc. and author of Well Said! Presentations and Conversations That Get Results talked to Business Insider about what not to say during a performance review. In addition, Michael Kerr, international business speaker and author of The Humor Advantage, put in his two cents about what he thinks are tempting — and terrible — things to say at a performance review, including the No.1 worst thing you can utter. If you think you might let one of these comments rip during your performance review, check yourself before you wreck yourself and zip your lip.

10. ‘I don’t care’

You don’t seem like a team player. | GIPHY

Blurting out “I don’t care” when your boss is telling you you’re not a team player or that your listening skills aren’t up to par is definitely a no-no. “Don’t let the death knell of indifference ring during your performance review,” Price told Business Insider. “It’ll tank your career fast.”

Instead, say this, Price instructed: “Wow. I was unaware my coworkers felt that way, but I’m glad to know now. Do you have any specific examples you can share that would help me better understand the issue? What steps would you suggest I take to improve in this area?”

Next: Don’t say this defensive thing.

9. ‘Are you kidding me?’

Fighting with your boss isn’t a good look. | GIPHY

One thing you shouldn’t do at your review is argue with your boss — don’t get defensive, just listen to what he or she has to say. “Be professional, courteous, and calm,” said Price. “Rather than firing back with both barrels after an unmerited accusation, say, ‘Help me understand your basis for that statement,’ or, ‘Do you have some specific examples?’ or, ‘Those comments do not reflect my memory and experience of the situation — may I describe my perspective?'”

Next: Don’t come off like you want retribution.

8. ‘Who told you that?’

Don’t get defensive. | GIPHY

If your boss tells you something he or she heard that’s no bueno, don’t ask from whom. It makes you sound defensive — and your boss might think you plan to get even with the person. This also makes you sound petty and defensive — and worse, may give the impression that you will seek retribution after the review, Michael Kerr told Business Insider that it’s better to ask a question such as, “Can you give me a specific example of when I demonstrated that behavior so I know what to work on in the future?”

Next: If you think this is OK to say, think again.

7. ‘I’m bored with my job’

You’re basically saying ‘replace me.’ | GIPHY

Whatever you say, don’t tell your boss you’re bored with your job. “This statement says you’re tired, jaded, or fed up with your current role and responsibilities,” Price told Business Insider. “You’re admitting, ‘I don’t want this job anymore — hire someone else.’ Is that what you really want? Instead, say, ‘I believe I have even more to offer. With your approval, I recommend expanding my responsibilities to include …’ This way, you sound goal-oriented and proactive, rather than passive and uninterested.”

Next: This will make your boss think you’re incapable of change.

6. ‘I’ve heard that before’

Maybe you should have changed it then. | GIPHY

Tell your boss that you’ve heard something he or she is telling you before suggests that you’ve been ignoring what others have been saying — and that you’re not open to change. “If you’ve heard this feedback before, then consider that it’s at the very least a common perception about you and work to correct the behavior,” Kerr told Business Insider.

Next: Say this and you’re basically saying, ‘take this job and shove it.’

5. ‘I’m going to look for another job unless …’

JLO Attitude Gif

That’s not a threat you want to make. | GIPHY

Give your boss an ultimatum and it’s likely you’ll be out of a job. Don’t ever threaten to quit your job unless something you want to happen happens. “Instead, speak to your boss about specific challenges you’re facing, in a professional matter-of-fact manner,” said Kerr. Also, make sure you present the facts about how the company will benefit from your getting what you want.

Next: Say this and you’ll sink yourself.

4. ‘If you think I’m bad, you should see …’

Pointing fingers gif

This will make you sound petty. | GIPHY

Pointing fingers at others when your boss criticizes you makes you sound petty. A performance review is definitely not the time to be talking about your colleagues in a negative way. Kerr said saying something along these lines will make it look as though you’re passing the blame around or making excuses.

Next: Whatever you do, don’t say this.

3. ‘I’m not paid enough to …’

That makes you sound lazy. | GIPHY

Ouch — this makes you sound defensive, not to mention lazy. Remember that you agreed to your salary and the expectations that came with it. Saying something like this makes it look as though you are trying to get out of your responsibilities and trying to do the bare minimum you can to get by, said Kerr.

Next: This tells your boss you’re lazy as the day is long.

2. ‘That’s not my job’

You don’t look responsible. | GIPHY

Don’t tell your boss that something he or she expects from you isn’t your job. “Expressing these sentiments raises the ire of any supervisor because it makes you look like you are more concerned about shirking responsibility than you are about doing what needs to be done to help the team or organization succeed,” Kerr said. “Managers want people who will do whatever needs doing regardless of whose responsibility it is.”

Next: The No. 1 worst thing you could say

1. ‘I need to make more money’


According to LinkedIn, the single worst thing you can say during a performance review is that you don’t make enough money. Of course you do — doesn’t everyone? Let’s face it – people work to make money, so your boss already knows you want to make more. You don’t need to make it the focus of a review conversation.

Instead, try to meet more consistently with your supervisor and discuss your growth in the company. Or,  keep a list of your work wins and share it at least two months before your review, because money discussions begin long before reviews are even scheduled.

Read more: 7 Ways to Ace Your Job Performance Review

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