Words Matter – How to Use Feed-Forward, Not Feedback


I like “mind tricks” that help me change my behaviors.

And that is what the notion of feed-forward can do.

Giving and receiving feedback is emotion laden and few of us love participating in the process.

Here’s a little twist that can help give some new energy to the feedback process that focuses on Growth and Change.

Feed-forward consists of providing future-oriented options or solutions.

When coaching nurses, remember, Growth is a motivator. Nurses leave current jobs in pursuit of growth. The most common reason for leaving jobs is finding a place to “go and grow”.

And when doing patient teaching/coaching, positive visuals help motivate. Hearing just the things they have to stop doing, instead of visualizing what good behaviors/options look like, may spark more motivation.

Instead of feedback, where we focus on the past, positive or negative,

Feed-Forward gets us to focus on the future.

Questions and statements like these use feed-forward:

  • What information do you need to help in those situations in the future?
  • How do you want to handle this situation the next time?
  • Tell me how you need to handle this situation next time?
  • Here’s what I think those interactions can look like, think of this scenario…..

We are all so YouTube and video oriented…. It’s helpful to paint a picture of the desired scenario or expected scenario…. Give details that give a visual that they can ‘see go by’ in their imagination.  

Nurses using their self-awareness, can paint that picture on their own and share the visual with you! And vice versa….

This helps all of us help each other grow our self-awareness and our growth.

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