APPRAISALS can be a nerve-wracking or uncomfortable experience for some people.

It is a time when employees are evaluated against their company's expectations, and they have to take stock of their performance and achievements (or under-achievements) and justify their next pay increment or promotion.

Understandably, it requires more than just confidence to do well at these appraisals.

Here are some tips on how you can prepare and impress your boss at your next appraisal:

1. Prepare, prepare, prepare

Although many employees know that appraisals are important, time and again, they do not do their homework beforehand.

An appraisal is not meant to be a session for idle chit-chat.

It is a formal system to review, assess and record your work performance.

This evaluation will ultimately lead to decisions that may have a long-term impact on your career.

Therefore, you must be thoroughly prepared with the information and data that is relevant to your work and contributions.

Refer to your previous appraisal: Have you followed up on and resolved any issues that may have arisen then?

Pay particular attention to any special projects or things you had committed to, and provide a status report.

If you have not achieved or completed the things that you were expected to, be prepared to give a good explanation, backing it up with reasons.

Be careful not to lay the blame on anyone. Stick to the facts and offer your insights as professionally and objectively as possible.

2. Learn to listen

Often, employees go for their appraisal meeting with lots of things they want to say, but it is equally important to listen to what your appraiser is saying.

Always let your appraiser set the tone and agenda of the appraisal. Pay close attention to the issues or points he raises and respond to them accordingly.

At the end of the discussion, bring up any points you would like to address that have not already been covered by your appraiser.

By learning to listen first, you can better understand your appraiser's line of thinking, which will help you focus your responses and deal with each issue or question as it comes up.

3. Stay professional

Appraisals can be emotionally taxing on both the appraiser and the person being appraised.

Both positive and negative issues will inevitably be raised and judgments made.

There may be uncomfortable moments where employees are pressured to give justifications for their work performance, behaviours and shortcomings.

Typical reactions in some employees during appraisals include denial, laying blame, anger, withdrawing into silence and even tears.

It is important to understand that the appraisal is meant to be an exercise not only to review and acknowledge your achievements, but also to identify areas for further development and those that may need improvement.

At all times, remain professional and refrain from any form of emotional outburst.

It is important that you view constructive criticism as valuable feedback and focus constantly on your desired solutions and outcomes. Ask for clarification on any contentious issues and try to address them on the spot.

4. Mind your body language

When you are in an appraisal setting, everything about you work, behaviour, attitude, strengths and weaknesses will be evaluated and reviewed.

Hence, the things you say, how you choose to say them and what you are doing while saying them, can have a dramatic effect on the messages that you are sending across to the receiver.

Do not sit slumped in your chair or with your arms crossed. Instead, sit up straight and lean slightly forward, towards your appraiser. This makes you appear interested and open-minded.

Maintain good eye contact and pay attention. Most importantly, try to relax and respond in a calm and confident manner.

5. Collect testimonials

What others say or think about you always seem to carry a higher value than what you say of yourself.

If a colleague, superior, customer or client has written something positive about you, gather these documents and use them in your appraisals.

Be proactive and seek testimonials from people whom you have formed great working relationships with. You can ask them to e-mail or send their comments about your service or performance in writing.

Roadmap to future

The appraisal process should provide a clear roadmap on where you want to go, as well as the targets and goals you need to achieve by next year.

At the end of the appraisal, you should always ensure that you have an understanding of your appraiser's expectations.

If you are not sure, check with him again and follow up with an official confirmation in writing.

Agree on timelines and commit to them, and record the progress and improvements you have made as you go along. This will provide the key points you will need for your next appraisal.