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Feedback and Criticism

Badge - Learn WordPress with Lorelle VanFossen at WordPress School.During Lorelle’s WordPress School and online courses, you will be asked to give and receive feedback and criticism from the instructor and fellow participants. This is part of the learning process.

it is important that we respect the integrity of learning here, even if we are doing so on the open web. Respect your fellow participants and the process. Don’t share anything you don’t want the world to know both online and offline. Blogging and web publishing can be a highly personal and intimate experience as we share topics that maybe personal and private, so use common sense, practical sense, and discretion.

We all work hard on our projects in this class and we want to know that we are safe to experiment, to try new things and ideas, and play, as well as share. Respect is the keyword.

We are here to learn WordPress. Don’t judge or comment on the words or grammar in general. It is fine to comment on the content with cheers and encouragement, but focus on the WordPress tasks at hand. Review the assignment to ensure you are helping them get all the details right like properly formed links, headings, image alignment, etc.

Feedback maybe made public through comments on the tutorials and Google+ Community interaction. Play nice and respond appropriately. If you see someone trespassing on good intentions, self-police yourself, others, and the community first, involve Lorelle last. We are all grownups here. Act like one.

Accepting Feedback and Criticism

The keys to accepting feedback are:

  1. Listen: Open your ears, mind, and heart to the feedback. You don’t have to accept it, but the odds are that they might know what they are talking about, or saying what others are thinking but not saying.
  2. Know they speak from the heart and mind: Feedback comes from a source of helpfulness, of kindness. They want you to do good, and probably better.
  3. Be quiet: Shut up and let them talk. Arguing, debating, justifying, excusing, etc., does nothing but delay the process and make the experience confrontational. It makes it uncomfortable for everyone.
  4. There is no right or wrong, just fixes: The feedback is to help you learn how to do better, and the reviewer to learn how to help you do better, and improve their own work. You are not wrong because you do something a way different from someone else as long as the job gets done. There is no right or wrong, just work and better work.
  5. This is not personal: Giving and accepting feedback is a part of the class. It is not person, so don’t take it as personal. In the job market you will be giving and receiving feedback on your projects, tasks, job performance, etc., as part of the daily routine. You shouldn’t take that personal, nor should you do so here.
  6. We all have talents and skills: We all have different skills, experiences, and expertise. Do not allow their expertise or yours to get in the way of healthy feedback. Appreciate the plethora of skills and talents around you and respect them, and their authority to give specific feedback.
  7. Recognize that giving feedback is difficult: It’s hard to find the right words sometimes to express doubt, uncertainty, or even certainty while giving feedback. Appreciate what they are trying to tell you, not every word they say. They may not be able to express their point or concern clearly. Repeat it back for clarification if necessary so both parties understand the point.
  8. Know when to stop the feedback: Some people are too helpful, offering more feedback than you may desire. Be patient but willing to set a limit on the feedback. Specify the amount and specific aspect of the project you wish feedback. Have the courage to stop them if they step over your boundaries.
  9. Say Thank You: Take a moment to always show your appreciation. Giving feedback is risky and frightening for some people. Acknowledge that they’ve shown courage in offering their opinion. Just say thank you.

Giving Criticism and Feedback

The keys to giving good criticism are:

  1. Ask Permission First: Always ask permission to give feedback. If your fellow participant is willing, take care to respect their time and feelings.
  2. Listen: Listen to the goals and desires of your fellow participant as they describe what they wish to accomplish or get in the way of feedback.
  3. Ask for Soft or Hard (Gentle or Strong) Feedback: Some people can’t handle criticism well, so they like gentle input. Others want the truth, no matter how many sharp edges it might have as it slams into their project. Give criticism appropriate to the recipient’s ability to receive.
  4. Give from the heart and the mind: Give feedback in a way that is helpful and heart-full. Offer kindness. Show them that you care about whether or not they get this right or make it better.
  5. Be specific: “Your project is broken” isn’t helpful. “The code in the header isn’t displaying properly” gives the person a direction to take to resolve the issue. Be as specific as possible and point out exactly what area of the site or article you are talking about.
  6. Reward the RIGHT not just the wrong: Research has shown that people do better when they receive positive encouragement with the things they are doing right, not wrong. If the wrong is hindering their performance, then the obstacle should be removed, but mix in some strong positive reinforcement.
  7. It’s not personal: Criticism and feedback is not personal and shouldn’t be given or received that way.
  8. This is not a competition: Be wary of giving feedback that could be misconstrued as competition. We are here to help each other do better.
  9. No expectations: Hold no expectations over the feedback you offer. Some people will never listen, never change, or respect the opinions of others. Some will embrace every word you say. Either way, hold no expectations including the expectation of gratitude. You do this because it is your job, task, or the right thing to do.
  10. Kind words: “Keep going.” “Keep working on this.” “You are on the right path.” “You clearly know what you are doing.” “This is great.” “Well done.” “Good work.” Sometimes a few kind words are the best part of the feedback, giving them the incentive to keep working on this and the desire to make it even better because of how you made them feel. Know that for some people, a kind word might be a rare event in their life. Know also that some people only hear the praise and not the feedback, so ensure the “Praise Sandwich” includes clear and specific instructions.

Here are more references and resources to help you learn more about criticism and feedback.

This is from Lorelle’s WordPress School. For more information and to join this free, year-long, online WordPress School, see:

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