How to write a rebuttal letter to your boss

Updated February 21, 2017

Occasionally in your working career you may disagree with your supervisor. Often such disputes occur regarding job performance. Your boss might take issue with the manner in which you are performing your duties or believe you are not completing all assigned tasks. This negative assessment might be documented in an employee evaluation or warning that is placed in your employment file. If you believe your supervisor is wrong, one option is writing a rebuttal letter to defend your work performance.

Wait until you cool off before responding in writing to a negative appraisal or criticism from your supervisor. Consider whether a rebuttal is necessary in the particular situation or if it is a matter that does not require such a formal address. Remember, putting something in writing makes it permanent and it is likely to become part of your employee file.

Reflect carefully on your supervisor's criticism before you begin writing. Consider each point individually if you have documentation of more than one concern. Gather your evidence to defend yourself against each of these assertions.

Make notes and organise them so you will be able to produce a logical and reasonable letter. Remember that your boss will probably not be the only one who will read your letter as it may be distributed to the human resources department and others in management.

Address your supervisor directly at the beginning of your letter. For example, you could begin with "Greetings, Mr. Jones" and proceed in a professional manner. Explain why you are writing this rebuttal. Document the situation in full but do not drift off into tangential information. Be clear and concise so there will be no ambiguity.

Quote your supervisor's own words verbatim when appropriate. This will help ensure you are accurately representing her assertions. Paraphrase when you do not have a written record and are relying on memory of what your boss has said.

Defend yourself with logic and facts when you are wrongly accused of something. For example, you can copy your time cards if your boss stated you are often late for work and you really have only been late twice in 12-month period.

Admit any mistakes you have made that your boss has documented. You must be honest about any infractions or else nothing you write will be believed. For example, if you failed to complete a project you need to take responsibility for it. You can provide the reason why you erred but do not make endless excuses. Hopefully, this was an exception to your overall excellence at work, and you can cite this as a one-time-only occurrence.

Conclude your letter with proposals on how to provide solutions to any concerns your boss has raised. Be positive and stress your desire for harmonious teamwork.


Never attack your boss on a personal level. Keep your rebuttal informative and candid while resisting the temptation to let your anger or hurt take precedence over your professionalism. Take the advice the Sutter/Yuba County Employee Association gives to its members to not "communicate emotions."

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About the Author

Lisa Mooney has been a professional writer for more than 18 years. She has worked with various clients including many Fortune 500 companies such as Pinkerton Inc. She has written for many publications including Woman's World, Boy's Life and Dark Horizons. Mooney holds bachelor's degrees in both English and biology from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.