One of our core values at Thrive is compassionate directness — where all staffers are empowered to give feedback, surface pain points and give constructive criticism with clarity, compassion and empathy. Research also shows that employees prefer open and honest feedback at work over other perks.

We asked our Thrive community to share with us different examples of compassionately direct feedback they’ve received, and how it ultimately helped them grow. Which of these pieces of feedback resonates with you?

“Speak up and own your space in the room.”

“The most valuable feedback I was given was from a line manager and mentor who sat in on one of my presentations. She advised me to speak up, project my voice and own my space in the boardroom.  This feedback aided me to elevate my personal presence when presenting, chairing a meeting or running a session. I have shared this advice to many of the individuals I have trained as we need not be apologetic and ask for permission to speak. If we want to build credibility, we should be clear and concise in articulating our message with a confident voice.”

—Candice Tomlinson, life Coach and hypnotherapist, Sydney, Australia

“Try to get the answer yourself first.”

“I received compassionately direct feedback from a professor while I was a senior in college. While it stung at the time, this advice helped shape the way I hold myself as a professional and I’m incredibly grateful. This was my professor’s advice: While asking questions is great, try to get the answer yourself first. If you find that after this effort you are still struggling, then turn to a supervisor for assistance. In order to be a leader, I needed to hear and apply this advice. It is thanks to these words that I am much more confident in my career.”

—Sydney Vrban, marketing and content strategy, Des Moines, IA

“Sometimes you have to know when to walk away.”

“At one point in my career, I wasn’t sure what my next business move was going to be for a company I started. One of my mentors who is a self-made millionaire, and without a college education, told me, ‘Sometimes you have to know when to walk away.’  I didn’t walk away. I pivoted. But that statement has always been in the back of my mind when I’m standing at the ledge looking down, and I can hear everyone telling me, ‘Jump!’”

—Rudy Chavarria Jr., founder, college web mentor, Walnut, CA 

“Don’t be late.”

“A year or two after I founded my first business, I had a bad habit of always being late to appointments. Wherever I was seemed like the most important place to be at the time. One day, I arrived about 30 minutes late to meet with one of my favorite clients and she said she was firing me because I was always late. I was heartbroken. I asked her for one more chance. She agreed and I was never late again, at least without letting someone know that I would be late and why.”

—Cathy Connally, co-author, Flavour with Benefits: France

“Don’t forget to have fun.”

“One of the best pieces of feedback I have gotten from both my team and my clients was, ‘Don’t forget to have fun!’ It was coupled with statements about how my content is amazing and the research that I put into my work is spot-on, but sometimes I was forgetting to bring levity and joy to the table, too. This was such a great reminder for me.  And the big ‘aha!’ from the feedback was that I am really fun, silly, and lighthearted, but I wasn’t always allowing this to be a part of my persona. I took the comments to heart and made a renewed commitment to bring humor, fun, and my light side to my work.”

—Annie Bauer, business coach, Asheville, NC

“Always ask for feedback.”

“When I was a young professional, I applied for a job but my application was rejected. I was crushed, angry and overwhelmed,  but my mentor told me, ‘Every time you receive a no answer, ask for feedback. Don’t carry over that luggage of anger and disappointment to the next interview, because you first need to understand why that feedback was given to you.’ That made me see feedback as a powerful tool to learn and grow. Now I am very comfortable asking for feedback, which has led me to be more successful in other areas of my life.”

—Gladys Simen, corporate life coach for working moms, Toronto, Canada

“If things don’t improve, you’ll be fired.”

“I was once told if things didn’t improve, I might be fired. This was totally unexpected, very upsetting, and a pivotal moment. The challenge was although I trusted my manager, I didn’t agree with all the feedback. I had a choice: to listen and learn or deny and blame. Once my head stopped spinning, I worked on addressing all the feedback, focusing on the areas I knew to be my weakest. This feedback was a gift and paved the way for me to increase my abilities, confidence, and executive presence. I found a way to accept the gift for what it was: an act of truth-telling offered for my professional development.”

—Joe Kwon, speaker and author, Oakland, NJ

“Try not to be too codependent.”

“The best feedback I ever got was when one of my supervising professors from my counseling internship told me I was codependent. I protested at first and said I was just being nice, but she said I was losing myself helping others. She was right. I’ve suffered with it in my personal and professional life, but last year I had a book published on the subject. I often have to read it myself to remind myself to break all codependent behaviors. We are all works in progress and relapse is part of the process but I’m thankful for her feedback so that I could work on maintaining self-care while holding space for others.”

—Mary Joye, licensed mental health counselor, FL

“They may push your buttons, but they’re your buttons.’

“I had a coach say to me once, ‘She may push your buttons, but they’re your buttons.’ I was initially put off by the remark but realized he was absolutely right. The things that trigger us are our responsibility and chances are very good that when we feel like our buttons have been pushed, it’s an indication of some unresolved issue from the past. Recognizing our own sensitivities can help us shift out of victim (and blaming) mode and into a place of composure and empowerment.”

—Adriane David, mindfulness-based executive and personal coach, Calgary, AB Canada

“Feedback is not about you.”

⁠”I’ve had my fair share of feedback: some positive, some negative, and all insightful. And I’d be lying if I said some didn’t sting on occasion when I received it. After a particularly difficult conversation, the sting of which was clearly smeared across my face try as I might to play it cool, I was reminded that it wasn’t personal. It wasn’t about me; it was about my performance, my work, my results. And I am not my performance, work or results. I’m greater than the sum of all those parts, for better or worse, so I can’t let feedback define me. It can be hard to see in the moment but as long as we choose to view feedback through the lens of opportunity or a redirection — and not defeat — it’s often one of the best gifts we can ever receive.”

—Tricia Sciortino, CEO, Charlotte, NC

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  • Marina Khidekel

    Chief Content Officer at Thrive

    Marina leads strategy, ideation and execution of Thrive's content company-wide, including cross-platform brand partnership and content marketing campaigns, curricula, and the voice of the Thrive platform. She's the author of Thrive's first book, Your Time to Thrive. In her role, Marina brings Thrive's audience actionable, science-backed tips for reducing stress and improving their physical and mental well-being, and shares those insights on panels and in national outlets like NBC's TODAY. Previously, Marina held senior editorial roles at Women's Health, Cosmopolitan, and Glamour, where she edited award-winning health and mental health features and spearheaded the campaigns and partnerships around them.