Howdy folks :)
I'd love to start a discussion here about communication and its value within a guild structure. Please post constructive comments and relevant stories. We recognize, of course that not all guilds are the same, nor are the people who run them.
Communication, I find, is absolutely vital in life in general. How else does a child let the parent know it is hungry? How do we interpret our creativity? How about just plain old talking? Communication is an excellent way of expressing ourselves, physically through art, writing, music etc as well as being able to establish a connection between people in a conversational sense.
I've been lurking/posting on this wonderful forum for a while now, digesting sage words of advice, doling out my own opinions and realizing that the number one thing that the majority of issues brought up here is lacking is communication. This key element seems to be forgotten along the way somewhere. Granted my methods of communication are gentle and interactive (I like to engage the other person/people and ask questions and encourage them to talk) I think that this could apply to many of the same folks.
I will provide a few examples of key communication points and how some could use these tools to enable a better environment for communication in their guild life or real life. Please note, I am not a specialist or professional in communication etc. Just a person who is fascinated by the various processes of discussion and how to find peacable and agreeable terms, regardless if we "agree to disagree" or not.
How to open a dialogueEdit
Just about anything can help here. A simple greeting followed with a question. The ideal way would be to ask if they have a minute or two. This enables the person to know you wish a discussion but understand their time is precious. We all pay to play, remember? Questions also cause a person to interact with you, by answering them.
Don't beat around the bushEdit
Exactly this. Your introduction to the conversation already set the situation up. If you'd asked the right kind of questions, based on an answer you were given, this will open up the moment to begin the discussion of the issue at hand. Dependant on the sensitive nature of some subjects or how delicate a situation needs handling, this provides ample time to just say it. Things that require a bit more finesse of course, will need more time and thought.
Listening and RespondingEdit
After you've addressed the matter with the people involved, wait and let them explain themselves or respond to your questions/concerns etc. Make sure you pay attention at this point as this may give you insight into the person or the situation that you did not know before hand. Take notes, mentally or physically of things you may wish to respond to. Respond courteously and in point form after the person is done with their say. This may go back and forth a few times dependant on the situation. Rinse and Repeat.
Here is where conversations tend to run on. Recognize that all points were met and discussed and before re-hashing the same thing again, thank the person for their time and attention. Say it however you wish, so long as it is polite. If a decision was made or a follow up needed, be sure to follow through afterwards. A simple word of thanks and a reminder that your door is open to further discussions, should end the conversation easily.
Bear in mind this is only the principles of a conversation, folks at least in my twisted mind ;) I will follow this up with in guild situational use and why communication is so vital. Hey, it's a quiet work day here, and this has been on my mind for a while and I hope this can help people out. :)
Guild Leaders and their Officer teamEdit
This is extremely vital to having an efficient and competent team running a guild. Constant communication is a good thing, as well as openness to discussion and opposition of guild events/politics. The Guild Leader values and needs his/her officer core to be there to help run the guild smoothly and to delegate tasks that are best suited for that person. Trust is important as well as proper communication. This team MUST keep eachother up to date on happenings, and be current on the who, what, where, when, why and how of things.
A Guild Leader or Officer cannot properly pass judgment on something if they don't have the whole story, or were suddenly inundated with comments and questions after taking a 2 day break. They need to be kept in the loop. Our officer team are all able to communicate with eachother, in game and out of game. Via website, email, MSN, Facebook, whatever. Some even phone or text eachother. This availability of communication enables the -team- to work together to handle things quickly and efficiently.
Guild Leaders and regular guild membersEdit
Some Guild Leaders are aloof or quiet and some are right in there socializing and getting their hands dirty. What works for most different types of GL, is that they must be approachable if need be. Friendly, polite conversations will enable this to happen. Periodically check in with your officer team and fellow guild members and just ask a few questions that are tailored just for them. Offer to answer any questions that crop up. This is your dialogue opener. Be prepared to handle some touchy or sensitive things and handle it in a discreet and respectful manner. Losing your cool is tantamount to losing the people you rely on to make this guild a great place.
Officers and regular guild membersEdit
Basically the same as with a GL, except remember you may not be fully privy to some of what the GL deals with and also that you should defer to the GL who really does have final say. Keep the GL fully informed of any incidents or unusual behaviours and updates. Interact with the guild members regularly and take an active interest in them. Do know that some things should not be discussed with regular members but otherwise be honest with them.
Guild members and fellow membersEdit
Embrace individuality, recognize that no two people are alike and accept it. Everyone has an opinion and a related story. Always keep your conversations light and friendly. If you disagree with someone or something, please say so but in a polite and constructive manner. Do not let things fester or bother you, all it will do is cause further anger/hurt/resentment/whatever and not deal with the situation at the appropriate time. This is a large issue among many guildies. How many of you folks have heard the "Bob can't stand Judy" or "No one will run with me" etc stories here?
This is solved with privately and politely asking a simple question of the people involved. Such as: Is there an issue here? Is there something else I could do? Does anyone have suggestions for ...X idea? If you want help. Try communicating it effectively in /gchat. "Hey guys, I'm having some issues with my build here. Does anyone have a suggestion about what I should try? I'd like to keep ____ talent if possible." Or better yet, find someone who you think is a decent player of said class and just privately ask for help. For the guildies who can't get along, have either of you simply and politely asked what the issue is and how to resolve it? You'd be surprised how many people just don't.
Guild members and Guild Leaders/OfficersEdit
Everyone in the guild is important in various ways. Please respectfully realize that the core officer/GL team are often extremely busy in game so may not respond to you right away. In Game letters, whispers at an appropriate time, (basically not in the middle of a raid), joking around. All are welcome. If you feel you are being neglected, instead of rage quitting or withdrawing from guild social life, please address your concerns with one of these folks. That is what they are there for. If you don't receive an answer right away, give it a minute in case of afks or RL distractions etc. Then just politely ask again. Perhaps they were sitting in trade chat and got spammed out. Again, take the time to simply ask. No one is a mind reader. Well -almost- no one. ;)
How many times do we see folks come in here with re-occuring issues? We have a lot of "Should I leave?" or "I'm not happy, I was left out of __________" and plenty others, most dealing with a dislike of a certain disruptive individual, or head butting with the leadership.
The majority of these valid questions and concerns can be answered with the lack or need of more communication. Communication is definitely taken for granted in most cases. A person feeling left out or neglected may not have realized that all they had to do was speak up. If they had asked for help, or questions in /gchat, they also need to recognize that a lot of people don't pay attention to it if there is a lot of spam, discussion etc going on, as well as just plain old, afk or busy. This first recognition will go a long way to prevent hurt feelings. A simple whisper to someone asking about the issue at hand will generally get you an answer faster. Often we find that a person may be too embarassed or proud to approach someone for discussion, or just cannot find the words to begin one.
Some conversations are going to be difficult or sensitive. They are uncomfortable and not easy to get through. However, in the end, relief is felt once its over with that the discomfort is over. Discipline is another one. Tis a touchy line that must be toed everynow and then sadly. It's part of the dirty job of officers and Guild Leaders to do so. Remember this is all our game. We choose to play it as we see fit, after all we pay for it. This does apply to guild structures also. X guild's rules state this. You broke this agreement, ergo bye bye. Any uncomfortable issue is hard to bring up in conversation though, without making a person feel like a victim, criminal, child, idiot and so on. The challenge is to do so in a polite and constructive manner, with respect and positivity if possible.
So many ways to do this. Most will just up and go, with no explanation, or ninja quit/boot in the dark of night. Why? Several reasons. To prevent drama, shame, respect, courtesy, anger, just plain old carelessness. Who knows? A good way is with class and respect after a discussion with the GL/officer. "Hey guys, I am moving to a guild that is more suited to my playstyle, but I really enjoyed the time I had here. Take care." Or something similar. There are some situations as Evol pointed out, where a simple quiet, leave-taking is best suited for the moment. The folks here at GRF have compiled thousands of these, I'm sure.
Even with /gremovals, GLs/officers can do so while maintaining courtesy and maturity. "I'm sorry ___ . You have consistently broken X rules in guild and continue to do so even after several warnings. Our guild is obviously not a fit for you any longer. Good luck to you." /gremove _____. You have given reason, reminder that it was dealt with before and a polite acknowledgement that this is a parting of ways. Tailor similar wording to whatever situation but it gets the point across. Keep it short and simple.
Dealing with a sub-par performing personEdit
Telling someone they suck isn't easy. Sure there are some folks out there who have no problems doing so, or those whom would do so in a tactless and rude manner. Using the above communication methods should enable a dialogue to open up however. "Hey Joe, how goes? Could you enlighten me on some of the aspects of your class/spec so I'm up to speed? I'm trying to understand some mechanics and look for improvements across the raid. Do you have any suggestions?" If you know exactly what they're doing, just straight up and say it. "Look Bob, it's been noticed that your dps is considerably below what we know you are capable of doing, is there something that we can do or work on to improve this?" Straighforward and to the point. Just take a deep breath and do it, band-aid style.
Dealing with Personal IssuesEdit
This is a very fine line to walk here, friends. Some of us can and do play the role of counsellor to some individuals who just need to talk or vent. What we must all bear in mind is privacy and the lack thereof. It really is best not to get too involved apart from a /pat or empathic words and understanding. Advice given may not always be in a person's best interest. People's real lives can be affected by these opinions and what is done as a reaction. Listening is the best thing here, often people just need a sounding board to bounce ideas off of. Most importantly in guild structure and communication, personal lives need to be left out of it. If real life intrudes, that should take precedent of course. However if it does affect the guild atmosphere and progression then a polite private discussion and temporary sit out is needed, based on conversation.
Dealing with Drama Queens & "Emo" individualsEdit
Almost every guild has them. The Drama Queen will always be as such and almost every conversation can and will be used as ammunition later on. The best thing is to ignore or remove the issue but if you insist upon a communication, do not call this person out or insult them. This will only lend fuel to the fire. Be firm, polite and state your points of the discussion. Listen to their side but do not let them dominate the conversation. Conclude the conversation once all sides have made their points and a decision has been reached.
This can also be applied to the more "emo" dramatic folks. Do not let them guilt you into anything or feel bad about a decision you've made. Remain firm, calm and positively re-inforce the other options they have. Remind them of their good points and encourage growth or seeking support via forums, other similar classes etc.
Dealing with a JerkEdit
So many ways this can be dealt with. "I'm sorry ___ your negative attitude is not the right fit for our guild. Good luck to you." /gremove. There basically is almost no communication here. This person is unwilling to try a dialogue or is very rude and crude in his own communications. A clash that will just keep going on. Certainly discipline wise you could deal with it or try, but the success rate of a turnaround on this type of personality is very low, sadly. Best to remove the issue.
Ranks & PriviledgesEdit
As Aerten brought up, this is a common miscommunication. Guilds & members must understand what the ranking and priviledges system is for that guild. Do they merely identify who raiders are and casuals? Do bank permissions remain about the same across the board? Why is rank so important? If this is discussed upon entry and on a guild website or somesuch this can go a long way to prevent concerns over something that may not matter much to the leadership, but to a new player. A detailed listing and explanation helps as well.
No one really likes to deal with it. Person A passes the job to Person B and so on. Anything remotely uncomfortable or sensitive is likely to cause awkwardness. Sadly, it has to be dealt with. If it is not, things can further be miscommunicated, disrupted and so on. Follow the dialogue steps and be honest. Try to find a counter balance to the negative things that must be dealt with. Joe is a great mage, his dps is fine but he's always pulling aggro and never decurses. Bench? Or find out what is up? Well ta da, following this dialogue set up, we find that Joe never had a decursive addon or similar item and therefore found trying to do it one target at a time too time consuming. Not to mention the lack of omen or another threat meter. Result was, investigation proved lack of certain raiding aids, so benched a week/night whatever to get them and learn how they are used.
Talking about something can open the eyes to the whole picture and enable us to act upon better insight and knowledge. In the above discipline scenario, a conversation discovered the underlying issue of both problems. Instead of the more impatient persons "Bah gkick the scrub! He sucks!" Taking a couple minutes to figure it out potentially helped your guild/raid/group out instead of kicking someone before finding out the truth and waiting/searching for a replacement.
Listening/paying attention is the second part of the problem. Do people read posts? Or skim? I've seen countless folk reply with answers that had nothing to do with the issue at hand for the poster. The same goes for conversations. Be courteous and do pay proper attention. And be wary of distractions, tangents and segues ;) Those just prolong the inevitable. Tone and word choice are another thing to pay attention to, is the person hesitant? Concerned? Hurt? Angry? Try to find out or interpret it and continue your conversation from there.
Ultimately folks, I know this was a long posting and I'm positive I'm only preaching to the choir. I just saw the last few weeks posts and saw a pattern developing. Perhaps this is my own rant ;). Needless to say I firmly believe that effective, courteous conversation is indeed important and vital to guild life. As well as real life of course. Most of us know and practice these methods without even knowing it, but I figured this would be a nice tool to help those who are as yet unsure about how to broach certain subjects.
Thank you all for reading this (if you got this far) and I'd appreciate any suggestions for situations or methods to add or try out. :)
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- Written by Taleyna of Fiery Justice - Alleria Server
Original Post: Guild Relations Forum