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Mellody Hobson on Taking Tough Feedback

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Mellody Hobson on Taking Tough Feedback

Rethinking with Adam Grant,

5 min read
3 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

People generally don’t change unless they’re in pain.

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Criticism hurts, but pain is often the shortest distance between you and change. Many people shun criticism, but what if you were to view it as a gift, even when it comes from people you don’t necessarily respect or even like? In this episode of his Re:Thinking podcast, organizational psychologist Adam Grant interviews Mellody Hobson, the president and co-CEO of Ariel Investments and the chairperson of Starbucks Corporation, about her views on feedback and representation in the workplace.


Feedback is a gift, not a right. Search for the nugget of truth in all feedback, even if it comes from an enemy or rival.

When you’re on the receiving end of feedback, heed three truths:

  1. View feedback as a gift. You’re not entitled to it.
  2. Be receptive to all feedback, regardless of who is sending it. Your willingness to analyze the feedback objectively, and subsequently accept or reject it, shouldn’t depend on whether you like or respect the giver.
  3. If you receive similar feedback from several people, there’s certainly some truth in it. Search for the grain of truth; it might help you improve. 

When sharing feedback with a co-worker or employee, don’t divulge everything that’s on your mind. Stick to mission-critical issues that could be the difference between success and failure. The popular “feedback sandwich” method – book-ending negative criticism between positive feedback of what the person is doing well – undermines your authenticity. ...

About the Podcast

Mellody Hobson is the president and co-CEO of Ariel Investments, the chairperson of Starbucks Corporation, and the former chairperson of DreamWorks Animation. Organizational psychologist and author Adam Grant is the host of the podcast Re:Thinking.

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