How to Respond to a Written Warning at Work

No one wants to get a written warning at work, but when you get one, listen, understand, and plan your next move with a clear idea of your options.

You will need

  • Composure
  • Documentation
  • Respect
  • Remedy
  • Employment options

Step 1 Compose yourself before responding Read the letter several times and take some time to compose yourself before responding. Remember that in the tension of the moment you’re not likely to absorb the information well, might misinterpret it, and could overreact — back off.

Step 2 Make the best of it Choose to accept the warning without getting defensive. Affirm your loyalty to the company but protect yourself by documenting the circumstances in which you received the warning.

Step 3 Respond in writing Respond in writing and include your version of events and how you plan to remedy things — keep a copy of this. Request a meeting with your employer to discuss this further.

Step 4 Act respectfully and keep it private Act with dignity and respect and ask questions to be sure you understand the problem. Don’t gossip about the letter later or pass blame to others. Decline to answer any questions from other employees.

Step 5 Fix it Remedy the problem in the written warning to duck a dismissal, but also to demonstrate your goodwill and make your case for reinstatement stronger.

Step 6 Start looking for another job Consider a graceful exit strategy. Update your resume and check out employment options while you continue to clear your name. You may have overstayed your welcome or have outgrown the job, develop your options.