12 Pieces of Feedback That Have Helped Us Grow and Improve

Giving and receiving feedback in the right way can help create an environment of creativity and growth.

Thomas Barwick/ Getty Images
Thomas Barwick/ Getty Images

In our world of hybrid work, giving and receiving feedback is more important than ever so both leaders and employees can feel connected and engaged. At Thrive, we emphasize compassionate directness in our feedback and communication, reframing feedback to be about growth rather than criticism, in order to create an environment that fosters creativity and risk-taking.

We asked our Thrive community to share with us one piece of feedback they’ve gotten or given that changed their work environment or mindset for the better. Which of these pieces of feedback resonates with you? 

“You don’t always have to be the first one to speak.”

“When I first started working, I was always eager to participate and contribute in meetings, and I felt like this was a positive thing. However, it was once highlighted that sometimes this approach can be overbearing and can prevent others from sharing and taking part. From that day onwards, I always balance my contribution to ensure that I am not always the first to speak, or that I don’t contribute or say something on every single topic. I draw in others when I can. Simply listening to others and observing the meeting dynamics is just as important.”

—Leticia Corbisier, leadership consultant, Brussels, Belgium

“Remember to celebrate oneness.” 

“The most impactful feedback I’ve received is to celebrate oneness. We all see our work through uniquely filtered lenses based on our life experiences. While it’s essential to celebrate diversity by understanding what makes us different, it’s equally important to celebrate oneness. As a species, more that unites us than should ever divide us. When we embrace our connectedness, we become more empathetic, accepting, and kind to one another.”

 —James Petrossi, president of PNTL, Austin, TX

“Speak up and project your voice.”

“The most valuable piece of feedback I received was probably over 20 years ago, from a woman I worked for, that I strongly admire.  She told me  to speak up, project my voice, and ensure my message is always clear and succinct. I decided to invest in voice coaching, which was one of the best investments I have ever made as I facilitate one-on-one sessions and small groups and large groups, and my voice is my vehicle for all of these contexts.  I found that this increased my confidence and enabled me to communicate more effectively. I will forever be grateful for this feedback. It was a pivotal moment.” 

 —Candice Tomlinson, coach and hypnotherapist, Sydney, NSW, Australia

“It doesn’t help someone else if you absorb their emotions.”

“When my husband and I were new parents, our daughter was having a very colicky day, and all her fussing and crying was really affecting me. My husband remarked ’It doesn’t help her if you absorb all her emotions.’ I realized he was right: my having empathy for our daughter did not mean that I should lose perspective. She needed me to be a soothing presence. Now, whenever situations are distressing, I try to balance two things: a deep and genuine empathy, and a commitment to not letting myself get overwhelmed. Sometimes it’s actually best for the other person if I step back just enough to regain my own calm and strength.”

 —Christine M. Du Bois, anthropologist and poet, Lansdowne, PA

You think you’re working really hard, but others don’t see it. It’s your responsibility to show them.”

“The most impactful piece of feedback I have ever received came from a female manager at a time where I was completely burnt out. She said, ‘You think you’re working really hard, but others don’t see it. It’s your responsibility to show them.’ At first, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. How could other people not see how hard I was working? But then I realized that all I had to do was to focus on the type of high-value work that others would notice, and allow all the busy work to fall away. The result: I stopped working evenings and weekends, and I got promoted within a few months. I am forever grateful to this woman. Becoming more visible with high-value results has been the most impactful thing I have ever done in my career.” 

—Bianca Riemer, leadership coach, London, U.K.

“Make self-care your top priority.”

 “When the pandemic started, it was especially hard on our food service supply chain organization as we were considered part of critical infrastructure. Crisis communications is one of our key responsibilities. When I realized that this crisis was going to be around longer than just a few weeks, I gave my team feedback that they hadn’t heard before in their careers: put yourself first. That meant making sure that they included an element of self-care in each day, took breaks whenever possible and openly discussed their fears, concerns and needs in the moment. Months later, I’ve kept that expectation to make self-care a top priority. The result has been 100% retention, high satisfaction scores, and the highest performing team I’ve had the pleasure of being part of.”

 —Shira Miller, chief communications officer, Atlanta, GA

“Ask for what you want. The answer is always ‘no’ until you ask.”

“I received the best feedback from my Social Studies teacher in high school, when we were going over what I wanted in life. He wasn’t convinced and certainly didn’t think my statement was inviting action. His feedback on my answer was simply, ‘It’s good to know what you want, but are you prepared to ask for it? The answer is always ‘no’ until you ask.’ His feedback made it clear that if I want or need something, I must ask for it. If I don’t ask, the outcome is already the same as getting a ‘no.’ Those words of advice changed everything, and shaped my life into a positive force. I’ve given this feedback to so many young people when the opportunity comes up for feedback. Each one has reported better results after using it, and I’ll take that as a win.”

—Scott Miller, marketing director, Wilmington, DE

“Take initiative.”

“The best feedback that I’ve been given and since passed along to others is to take initiative. Whether it’s asking for help, starting something new, or speaking up, taking the first step takes courage. Along with taking initiative comes being proud of your work and what you do. Being content with your contribution to the work is crucial.”

 —Henna Garrison, mindset coach, Sicily, Italy 

“Be yourself and don’t lose your style.”

“The best piece of feedback I ever received was to not ‘lose my style.’ The first time I received this feedback from a veteran VP. I didn’t quite understand what he meant, but after a second promotion, he gave me the same feedback again. I finally asked what exactly he meant by style and he clarified: ‘Be you. Don’t change to fit an idea of what you think should be. Keep your gumption. Your kindness. And your thoughtfulness as you continue to rise in the ranks.’ These words have stayed with me for years and have given me the confidence to own my style of leadership.”

 —Christine Rich, marketing executive, OH

“Start with a question before jumping into the work.”

“I received feedback years ago that I jumped too quickly into the work. I didn’t pause to ask how someone’s weekend was or what they did last night. I was focused too much on the work task and not on those executing the task. I later contacted the person who was brave enough to give me that feedback, since it made such a positive impact on me and my behavior. I think about her comment more than I can count.”

 —Donna Peters, executive coach, MBA Faculty, Atlanta, GA

“Live life on life’s terms.”

“As a young caregiver for my (now late) husband, I was struggling with the shock of his terminal cancer diagnosis and navigating a complex health system. He recognized my efforts and said, ‘Live life on life’s terms.’ This didn’t mean I tried any less, but accepting the circumstances instead of wishing for a different diagnosis helped me be more present for him and become a better medical advocate because I wasn’t wasting precious energy on resisting the situation.”

—Kristin Meekhof, author and book consultant, Royal Oak, MI

“When you focus on being of service to people, the sky’s the limit.”

“My father, who also was an entrepreneur, told me that if you build your business focused on being of service to people, the sky’s the limit. Don’t think about sales, think about solving people’s problems. My partner and I follow his words of wisdom and have built our company, NorthStar Moving, on the principles of kindness. We make it our mission to go beyond lifting boxes, to lifting up those in need.”

 —Laura McHolm, moving company co-founder, Los Angeles, CA 

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