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Falling on Deaf Ears!

14 Oct 2011
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Have you had experiences relevant to the performance of a board or an issue the board should be dealing with, been brave enough to share them, only to have folks think you are trying to show off your knowledge and dismiss your thoughts without even giving you an opportunity for meaningful discussion? How does that make you feel? What if that seems to be happening over and over again - i.e., it's not an isolated incident and you're not the only one treated this way. People who have emotional and social intelligence. They know how to work effectively as part of a team. They treat people with respect, know how to communicate directly and with compassion, and never engage in bullying. Doesn't seem to be the mantra for the Open Source Matters group on JPeople. In spite of of their published purpose which came significantly after (May 9, 2011) the establishment of the group on June 19, 2010, there have been and continue to be poor experiences in trying to establish some kind of communication with OSM on issues where action was promised or on issues where no action has been seen, etc.

Currently you would be hard-pressed to find those contentious discussions though you would find some significant holes in the discussions where responses were made to individuals but you can't find the individual's original post. In my case, I asked that all of my posts be removed from JPeople as the leadership of OSM and a few selected other's chose to continuously attack my motives for posting a question or in the case of the admin of JPeople insisted I was being repetitive and as a result closed the discussion. Possibly the best example in the remaining discussions (Note how many have been started by OSM and seem to have no responses) is this discussion. By examining this discussion you can see how someone who is interested in exploring the issues is shut down after a very short time and then simply not responded to. Yet OSM representatives can't figure out why the posters then get repetitive trying to get a response.

The previous discussions on JoomlaLeaks were all issues raised with the OSM board on JPeople (with the exception of these four blogs):

You won't find them discussed in the OSM group on JPeople with the exception of this attempt by Jennifer Marriott.

It seems that those members of OSM who manage the JPeople group site for OSM have really adopted the following mantra by Aristotle rather then the published one:

Criticism is something you can easily avoid by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.

Not to say that I am perfect in providing criticism to OSM and the leadership team. I am not. Sometimes I get snarky when I shouldn't and obviously in those circumstances some understanding from those I am criticising might go a long way to correct my slips next time. But meanwhile I have some suggestions for the OSM group when receiving criticisms:

  • Consider the source. If you receive criticism from a long time Joomla user, perhaps a former board member or forum moderator or developer who has contributed to the project, you should definitely consider their criticism.
  • Shut your trap and listen. Fight the urge to argue with the person or explain the mistake, and just listen to your critic. You’d be surprised what you can learn if you simply soak it in.
  • Don’t take it personally. Don’t take the criticism as a personal attack on you.
  • Stay calm. The goal in criticism is to keep as much of your emotions out of it as possible.  Let your critics know you understand their concern and thank them for taking the time for bringing it to your attention.
  • Ask clarifying questions. Make sure you’re on the same page with your critic by asking clarifying questions. By asking questions, you create dialogue between you and your critic, which in turns fosters co-operation and an atmosphere for mutual improvement.
  • Take ownership of the mistake. When someone brings a legitimate mistake to your attention, don’t get on the defensive and start making excuses for it.
  • Change your perspective on criticism.Instead of seeing criticism as humiliating or embarrassing, view it as an opportunity to improve yourself. Winston Churchill had this to say about criticism:
    Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.
  • Thank your critic. Always thank your critic. They took the time to sit down with you and point out areas where you can be improvement. The least you can do is say thanks.
  • Take action and follow up. After you've received the criticism, take action immediately. After you've taken action, make sure to follow up with your critic and let them know how you've rectified the problem. This shows that you actually listened to the criticism and respected what the person had to say.

 I would love to see a change in JPeople both in the OSM group and overall where community members are encouraged to provide criticism and leadership actually listened rather then shutting the critics down.

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David Huelsmann

Dave Huelsmann was Treasurer of Open Source Matters, Inc. from 2008 to July, 2010 and Joomla Forum Global Moderator from 2005 to November, 2010. Now retired, he was a senior healthcare executive who managed large and diverse clinical laboratory, radiology, electroencephalography, and centralized patient transport operations/departments in both not-for-profit and for-profit companies throughout the United States.

Dave was a Navy Corpsman who served in Vietnam while attached to Seabee battalionmcb71
MCB-71.

Read more about Dave Huelsmann

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