Alright, if you read the first article of this series, you probably remember me saying that my articles were going to get more practical in terms of usable advice. Well, I fibbed … sort of. That is coming, but after finishing the guild section of my first article I felt I did not give that topic the attention that it so rightfully deserves. Consider this article 1.5 in the series, since it is somewhat of a continuation of my guild topic of the first article but not exactly a sequel.
So why another article on just guild stuff? Because they are the most important thing in WoW. They are the people you waste your raid nights along. They are the people you are probably building bonds with. On a more practical level, your guild is important because they are helping you see new content and get gear from that new content. Getting the experience and gear necessary for improving to that elite Mythic raider status requires a guild. Growing and improving yourself within a guild is how you move onto better guilds, or help your current guild progress instead if you are not leaving.
However, just like anything in life that involves groups of people, your guild life is subject to group dynamics, social cues, relationships, social hierarchies, and learning to recognize and manipulate those things will help you make your guild work for you. How do you get started in doing all this stuff? Well, there are two things you need to work on – helping yourself and helping others.
Helping yourself, within the context of making your guild work for you, means making yourself essential, crucial, fundamental, important, vital, etc. to your guild’s inner workings and raid progression. This benefits you because you are prioritized for gear, have influence on guild decisions, and become unlikely to be replaced or benched in your raids. That is nice for you, but what does your guild get? Well, they get a player that is consistent, skilled, has a healthy perspective on guild and raid issues, and sets a good example.
So in that regard, you become a ‘rock’ for your guild just like your guild does for you, which in turn benefits you both. So how can you become the kind of player that is a linchpin to a guild’s success? Just like anything that is important in life, this process is fairly subtle and has many more variables than any one article can cover. But I will go over the things I believe are the most important to become the essential bleeding edge player your guild needs.
So how do you become essential to your guild? You need to give them reasons to believe you are essential. Of the things you can do for yourself, there are both intangible and practical things that you can do. I’ll briefly go over the practical bits first because it is most likely stuff you have heard before, and even part of what I talked about in my first article.
Some of the practical things include always being prepared with the best consumables possible, showing up consistently, showing up early, and showing up prepared. These things are pretty obvious since you’re most likely to do them already if you are a player aspiring for the Bleeding Edge. Still, they are worth mentioning because they are the first steps you need to take in order to be an elite Mythic raider (along with getting your mind right, which I wrote the first part of this series on here). With your preparation and head game correct, you can start focusing on the less obvious stuff you can do to help yourself gain an edge within your guild.
The intangible things I spoke about earlier can be summarily referred to as your ‘public image’ and managing it correctly to secure your path to greatness. Your public image is what you show to others, and in the case of your guild, it is the ‘idea’ of you that everyone sees and thinks of. This image comes not just from your performance, but how you interact personally with your guildies and what kind of relationships you develop with them. This opens up some aspects of your personality and socializing you may want to consider evaluating, but don’t be daunted by this seemingly overwhelming task.
Many of the important things needed for managing your public image are straight forward and obvious, and the easiest way to put it is to be the kind of raider yourself want to raid with. Be kind to others, communicate openly and encourage others to do the same. Offer advice in a non-patronizing way or if someone performed well, compliment them. More often than not, the effort you put forth in doing those things will mean more than the actual deed itself, and that is the point. You need to instill a certain image of yourself in people’s minds, as it is a critical step in developing a good public opinion about you.
Having good public opinion means having a good public image, and this is perhaps the most important ‘intangible thing’ you can do to help yourself. You want to carefully manage what people think of you if you can, and to do so you need to control what information they have about you as much as possible. Do not give people ammo to use against you. This means not giving them any information you think might hurt your image. If you have some undesirable traits that have caused friction between you and others in the past, downplay those traits. If you are prone to negative outbursts, then internalize those feelings and channel them in some other non-public way. If you find it hard to notice the things you say that piss people off, then simply stay quiet the majority of the time and only say things you know are objectively kind.
I know this sort of über micro-managing sounds very totalitarian, but you only need to do this when it matters. Meeting someone for the first time is the best example, especially if they are a figure of high-status. In that case, the person does not know much about you, so whatever you show them is going to be foundation of the opinion they are going to end up having of you.
Once that opinion has been built and reinforced with further observed behavior, it can be difficult to dislodge those set opinions and change them for the better. If you find yourself having to do such a thing, then merely start adopting the various pieces of advice in this article (primarily ‘become the raider you want to raid with’). So make a good impression upon first meeting people, tend to your relationships, and you will quickly garner the support you will likely need for the future.
The thing I want to end the ‘help yourself’ section with is something I consider totally optional, but very much worth the effort if you are able to pull it off. I’m specifically referring to becoming a leader-type figure within your guild. Becoming a leader-type figure does not necessarily require you to be an officer. In this case, you just need to be someone your guildies can rally alongside. Be someone other people respect, go to for wisdom, and can rely upon. One of the largest advantages to being such a person is gaining a support network (aka friends), which is a massive step towards becoming essential to your guild’s workings. Remember, if you have friends in your guild, then you have people who are invested in you and your time there.
Having other guildies invested in you is extremely important to your longevity within the guild, especially if you are not an officer. Having people who will help make a case for you when you need it most can be the difference between whether or not you’re benched on a progression fight, or receiving a highly contended piece of loot. Obtaining that luxury can be a bit tricky and it takes a bit of manipulation of that ‘public image’ I mentioned earlier.
Now, we are going to change our ‘public image’ approach somewhat. Becoming a leader-type figure, you’ll need to have some specific goals in mind to develop some desirable leadership traits, or at least making people believe that you have them. The former approach is a more neutral, passive image of someone who gets along with everyone without making any waves. The latter approach is more about developing charisma, inspiring others, and gaining influence through friends. Let’s discuss how to start this.
The first thing you need to impress upon others is that you are level-headed in all situations. Forgiveness, open-mindedness, and maturity are some of the key factors for that level-headed persona you need to cultivate. Evaluate how you speak when you are discussing topics with your guildies. Do you speak in hyperbolic terms or exaggerate? People will not take you seriously. Are you quick to talk shit about someone or something with only a little information that is dubious in its authenticity? People will think you are foolish. Are you quick to expel someone who makes a mistake, even if it is just a pug? People will question your ability to empathize with others. Do you cuss often or let emotion take over your reasoning? People will think you are quick to become impassioned with emotion and will question your judgment.
These kinds of major things are seriously important to how people perceive you and you must learn to tune your behavior like a knob in order to emphasize your best traits while de-emphasizing your worst. Doing this will allow you to get your own image in line for becoming a leadership figure. The ‘helping others’ section is the other thing you need to do in order to obtain that leadership role.
Now that we have clarified the things you can do for yourself to make your guild work for you, let’s focus on how you can improve your position by helping others. The first thing I recommend is getting involved in as many guild activities as possible. Try to help as many guildies as you can, and do it by putting your best foot forward (so do everything you can, and do it well). Many of you might be thinking “I do not want to help any guildies do LFR, WTF?”, “Why would I show up to an optional raid when I don’t need the gear…?”, or “I hate doing heroic dungeons, he/she can just pug them.”. The point of doing that stuff is not just to help another person. The point is to help build up your image within the guild, and to help build your relationship with your fellow guildies (which in-turn helps your image).
Show up to all optional guild functions, show up early, and give a killer performance. Any opportunity to “strut your stuff” and build your standing with the guild leadership is an invaluable opportunity because you can strut your stuff for the people who matter most. Showing the people who have power, skill, and influence that you are worth a damn is a good way help yourself become one of those people.
You do not have to limit your efforts to just events where officers or the guild leader will be there. Help out any guildies you can when they need it. Helping people with menial tasks and giving it 100 percent effort says a lot about you. It shows you are a team player, you are helpful, you are active, you always do your best and if you can show off while helping then you also get to display your skill. All of those traits garner respect from people who matter. Respect can lead to friendships, which leads to support, which leads to having influence within your guild. Being a player that people know is good for the guild is a key factor in becoming essential to your guild.
Second thing I recommend is helping your guild on a more macro level – specifically in regards to guild bank funding, recruitment, and tackling guild business or issues. To get the obligatory practical stuff out-of-the-way, helping fill your guild’s bank is one of the best ways to show everyone you are a team player and essential to guild function. You are a player that always uses runes, pre-pots, and the best flask and food, so impress that level of excellence onto your guildies. Are some of your guildies not using 125 stat buff food items? Do some fishing in your off time and help fill the guild bank with 125 buff foods. Are some of your guildies not using runes? Help them farm Arakkoa rep in Tanaan for the permanent rune, or get the permanent rune yourself and do LFR to put your LFR runes in the guild bank. Are some guildies not using good flasks or pre-potting? Buy them or make them and deposit them in the guild bank for guildies to use. Feel free to contribute sorcerous reagents, enchants, gems, and crafted gear upgrades for the guild bank. 715 crafted gear is a huge boom in 6.2, as 715 iLvl is not matched in HFC until Mannaroth. If you are looking for a simple and easy way to help increase your reputation within the guild, helping with the guild bank is a good way to start.
So while it is nice being able to mindlessly farm for mats, you also have to show your guildies and the powers-that-be that you have a brain that can actually be used for complex thinking and problem solving. Helping your guild with recruitment is one part where that brain-thing comes into play. Helping your guild recruit is a good first step in showing the guild’s leadership you can handle responsibility because recruitment is essential and you want good people, but everyone hates doing it.
So offer your assistance to your GM or recruitment officer. I’m sure they would not mind the help. Be ready to do your best and bring some USDA prime-grade meat to the table. Any recruits you bring in will be a reflection of you because you handpicked them, so weed through them well and make sure they have all the qualities of a raider you would want to be playing with.
If you have started learning to work with logs since my last article, they will come in handy for evaluating potential recruits. Get logs from the recruit and look them over. Did they die? If so, find out to what and see what they could have done to prevent it (did they have cooldowns, tonic?). Check and see if they were dealing with mechanics. If it’s a priority add fight (Archimonde), check their damage contribution to the adds. If there is some bad stuff on the ground, check to see if they stood in it and for how long. See what their percentile was on DPS/HPS/damage mitigated. If their logs check out, ask them personal questions like what are their goals in the game; what do they look for in a guild and guildies; why they left or are leaving their previous guild. Like I said before, any new recruits you bring in are going to be a reflection upon you, so bringing in filet mignon would help you become the guild cornerstone you’re seeking to be.
The last thing I want to touch on for helping your guild is diffusing and handling guild drama. Many guilds have their own share of drama between guildies and drama can range in seriousness from sporadic brief disagreements to prolonged mutual dislike and even to clique vs. clique turmoil. Regardless, the best course of action to keep your guild drama-free is helping create an environment where drama is less likely to start or grow. Keep an eye on your raiders both in and out of raid and gauge their general attitude. You are looking for frustration, discontentment, whatever might drive them to sew discord within the guild. If people are getting defensive or hostile when confronted, try to back up on any aggressive or accusatory remarks and especially do not start witch hunts. If you must openly and directly evaluate or criticize someone’s performance, do so constructively, calmly and completely backed by facts.
If all else fails and confrontations happen, be quick to adopt the ‘be the bigger man’ philosophy and encourage others to do the same. Too often do I see petty arguments or minor disagreements escalate needlessly because someone needed to get in the last word or would not back down. Once you have put in the effort to do all the above, impose that same spirit on others and encourage them to foster it.
However, if you have tried those things and chaos still erupts frequently, then you need to take a hard look at your guild’s roster and identify the volatile members. From here, your course of action is going to depend on your social standing within the guild. As charm and charisma are only going to carry you so far in regards to guild influence, you should speak to an officer or the guild leader about these volatile members and their impact on the guild. Make a detailed case using examples of their behavior and antics that can be backed up by other guild members if need be.
Having a person in charge talk to a problem guildie can sometimes be enough to save the troublemaker from themselves. So do not be afraid to get involved if you feel someone of skill is worth the effort. However, this process can get even more complicated if the person/people causing the issues are within the leadership ranks. In that case, if those people are aware that some of their peers are volatile, then they have likely accepted it and settled for it instead of trying to fix it (which is a massive problem in and of itself).
Having no avenue to pursue in order to improve the guild atmosphere is one of the quickest ways to kill your ability to care within a guild, and therefore your fun, passion and progress as well. If any sort of guild drama is frequent or ingrained, do not be afraid to evaluate the pros and cons of staying or moving on from the guild. It is your time you are wasting and you should not waste your precious time on people who are not worth it.
There we have it – a discourse with depth worthy of such a complicated topic. The whole thing may seem lengthy, but that is only because the topic is so incredibly nuanced and complicated that I wanted to give it the effort it deserved. If you want a TL;DR (too long; didn’t read), then I will give you the following: Become active in everything your guild does; do your best; help others; be honest; express yourself freely. And encourage all your guildies to do the same. However, the most important thing is to have fun with these people. Fun is like grease in a machine; if you do not have fun while you are working hard, you will eventually burn out from the friction. You already have enough friction from improving yourself, so do yourself a favor and do not let the fun from one of the most important parts of your WoW career slowly erode away.