ira_gladkova ([personal profile] ira_gladkova) wrote2011-11-04 11:27 am
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The value of constructive negativity

There's a conversation going on right now, centering around the OTW elections and the various opinions expressed by candidates and others, in which I chose to leave a comment. However, I don't want any resultant discussion to overwhelm the person/journal where I chose to comment. I'm replicating the relevant part of my comment below, so if you'd like to discuss this topic with me, please do it here rather than in the other person's space.

It's hurtful for those who have legitimate issues with the org and how it's run to be told they're "encouraging dissention and unhappiness" or that they're being "divisive and negative" when they try to share their legitimate hurt or take steps to make the org a better place by pointing out problems while letting their hurt show. It feels a whole lot like silencing. We all want the org to be a good place and for org work to be rewarding. But a lot of people leave the org feeling hurt and disillusioned rather than satisfied and fulfilled. If anything encourages unhappiness, it's telling people who want the org to be a great place but are unhappy that there's something wrong with them.

I don't want to invalidate your feelings — there's nothing wrong with wanting the org to be a positive space and for its people to also be positive. However, the way you've framed this feels to me as if you're invalidating those people for whom the org isn't currently a positive space, but who want to make it better through their active participation and discussion of the issues.

The original comment in the context of the post.

And here is another post with a different approach.
jennyst: Jenny on a photo of space (Default)

[personal profile] jennyst 2011-11-04 04:26 pm (UTC)(link)
I wish there were more ways of saying, of adding as a disclaimer on every post I write, so that no-one can possibly miss it, that I give constructive criticism because I care. I love how much the OTW and AO3 have done already, and it's a huge achievement.

I don't want to "boot" people or "destroy" things. I want to do the fine-tuning, to make more improvements, both at the fundamental levels of root causes that feed into other things, and in the details. I want to encourage our volunteers, who work so hard in their own time, and I want to care for those who have been hurt. We can't be perfect, but we can be better.

Pretending that we're perfect hurts people. Criticising people hurts people. Discussing how to get better is hard work, but worth it. It works better when we can criticise ideas rather than people, and when we can do so in clear words that don't distract from the meaning by being inflammatory.

I want to share the skills I have, both technical and management. I want to learn, and I want to help others to share their skills. I want to have fun together, as well, and it's all too easy to lose sight of that in a heated discussion like this.

Thank you for all you do for the Org.
franzeska: (Default)

[personal profile] franzeska 2011-11-09 03:01 am (UTC)(link)
I agree with this completely. Instinctively, I react poorly to public expressions of anger. However, one of the big problems we've had in OTW things is a nicey-nice culture of sweeping things under the rug in the name of harmony. I've noticed this happening a bit and I've noticed people complaining about it or suggesting that it is going on to a very large extent. My feeling is that the realities of committee/board work will make people compromise quite a lot already. An angry board candidate (committee member, volunteer, blogger, etc.) could be someone who is going to be pointlessly divisive or they could be someone who will actually have the energy to effect change. It's far from clear cut.