Posted tagged ‘social skills’

The 5 Traits I Want in a Leader

July 19, 2011

Sitting on the fence, trying to figure out what I want from my gaming, now that I almost have the time to play and play hard, I’m constantly asking myself the question: “What do I want?” The answers used to change depending on my mood, but lately they’ve been converging.

I want in a guild:

- A project. Or rather, the opportunity to become involved in a project. I’m not vain enough to expect, or even want, to waltz in and take over an established group. But I do want to eventually be actively involved in pushing a group forward.

- A leadership team I trust and enjoy working with.

Why I want this:

I’m a good second. I’m not a visionary, I’m not a dreamer, I’m not someone who sees big. I am, however, easily influenced by other people’s visions and big dreams. I also really like planning, sorting, organizing. I like making dreams, other people’s dreams, a reality. (I missed my career calling, I should have become an investment consultant.)

I’m also not a passive player. Oh, I’m a little passive when I’m new, or when I don’t intend to commit. But once I’ve claimed a home, I’m one of those people who need to speak their mind, need to know everything and need to have a hand in everything. I don’t expect to control everything (despite being a bossy pally), but I’m at my happiest when in the eye of the storm. I lose interest very fast in “This is how things are and this is how things are going to be” environments.

Looking back at my guild-dating history (following my decision to regard my relationships with guilds the same way normal people regard their relationships with significant others. Not to be confused with dating-guildies. Which I swear I have never done and don’t plan on doing. Flings in foreign countries and Blizzcon dates don’t count. Yes, I like starting rumours.), what seems to have made or broke the relationships was always whether I subscribed to The Vision. If I could find A Vision.

I use the general word leader intentionally, instead of GM/GL, officer, healing lead, tanking lead, raid laid. To me, a leader is someone with A Vision and the ability to conjure that Vision in others. Sometimes leaders have official titles and roles, sometimes they’re just a face in the masses who happens to communicate good ideas well.

So then I pondered about those leaders I wanted to follow, those leaders who I followed then stopped and those folk who I never really thought of as leaders. What makes me believe in a leader?

There are a lot of bloggers who are guild officers and who offer advice from their experience. But you don’t often get followers who explain which traits attract their respect and, um, follow-ship. So here are the things that make someone a leader to me:

1- Communicates Well and Regularly – This is Number 1 for a reason: I can’t support something if I don’t know what I’m supporting. I constantly need to know what’s going on, not because I want to be annoying (while I do quite enjoy being a pest, my curiosity is not driven by my pestyness). It’s that in order to decide whether I’ll support and believe in an idea, I need to know the what, how and why of that idea. The leaders who’ve earned my respect are those who can answer those questions, and use those answers to convince me that their idea is a good one.

2- Sets Clear Expectations – I want to know what’s expected of me and of those around me. I want to know what my role is supposed to be. I have a pretty good sense of initiative and will jump in when I see a need, but it’s very difficult to be on the same page if I don’t know what the page is. And beyond that, in regular day-to-day guild life, I like consistency, I like when policies are enforced. When I don’t have to worry about expectations, I can focus my energy on things, like, oh I dunno…having fun.

3- Honesty and/or Integrity – I know when I’m being bullshitted. I might fall for it once. Twice if you’ve got that politician twinkle in your teeth. But after that I’ll figure it out. Most people pick up on lies quite quickly and on fake even faster. To be believed in, you need to be trusted. To be trusted, you have to be honest when it comes to matters relevant to the guild (luckily most people don’t care enough about your personal life to keep tabs on those lies unless they’re huge. Note: it is possible to tell the truth and be gentle at the same time!) and you have to practice what you preach.

4- Knows How to Say No – Saying “no” properly has two components. One in actually delivering the refusal and the second is delivering it a way that makes the receiver say “thank you“. Developing skills for both those components is pretty crucial to earning respect. And it’s especially important in dealing with people like me. I offer a lot of suggestions and a lot of feedback. I expect to be listened to. I expect to be listened to, but I also expect to be told “no” when I’m wrong, when I’m unreasonable and when someone has a better idea. It’s also pretty hard to respect a person who lets others walk all over them, who runs from conflict instead of solving it.

5- Enthusiasm – You know those shock value blogs that consist of guild or raid leader bitching about their guilds? And those GM’s who’s #1 advice to new GMs is “Don’t do it“? I love reading those bloggers, but I feel sorry for everyone in their guilds. And I’d never consider joining their guilds. Now I understand temporary frustration and I don’t mind being a shoulder or a pep talker (in fact, I actually really enjoy it), but I want a leader with a generally positive attitude. A leader is someone selling me a Vision. I won’t buy the Vision from someone miserable. If you want my subscription to your leadership, then show me that you’re worth my energy, that you enjoy what you do and that I won’t have to spend my game time nagging you to do your job.

And those are the 5 traits of the leaders I want to work with. I wrote in a gaming context, but I think it applies to just about every group-related part of my life. I tried to avoid the word “like” as much as possible, since respecting and liking are two different things. Generally I’ll like the people I respect as a leader, but there are many individuals who respect people they don’t like. I can, however, like someone whom I don’t think of a leader.

How to Keep Shyness from Ruining Your Game

April 7, 2011

I was recently pointed towards a blog post that could have been written by me a couple years ago: an extremely timid player who struggles with the multiplayer aspect of the game. Her struggles being due to her overwhelming shyness sucking the fun out of just about any in-game social interaction. I’ll spare her the link love as being the center of attention isn’t her forte. I know you guys are awesome and stuff, but easing ones way into the blogosphere has to be done at that person’s own pace.

Edit: I got the ok from Glorwynn to link her original post.

Writing about social phobia (I don’t like the term “social anxiety”, sounds too pop psychology. I prefer the direct translation of the French term since “phobia” is a far more accurate description.) was how I made a name for myself as a blogger. I’m still a pretty shy person in game. I won’t talk on voice chat if there are more than 4-5 people in the channel, I won’t initiate conversations unless I know the player well, I have to be in the right state of mind to join random raid PuG and it takes me weeks to months before I’ll type in a new guild or raid chat.

But you know what? That’s totally fine with me. I’ve reached a point where I’m satisfied with my comfort zone and I don’t care to go beyond it right now. I’m not a particularly social person, so I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything.

Where social phobia is a problem is when it gets in the way of the things you want to do. When you want to try healing but can’t because you can’t be around other players enough to give it a go. When you’re itching to see content but can’t because guilds (PuG raids are obviously out of the question at this point) are unbearably stressful to you. When loading screens make you nauseous.

If I’ve learned anything from my two years of blogging about WoW (and it has been two years exactly! Today is my second blogoversary!), it’s that people like me, and like the author of the original post, are a lot more common than we’d think. It’s just that quiet people are, well, quiet. You don’t see us, but it doesn’t mean we aren’t there.

So, what’s the advice I’d give new players who aren’t quite comfortable with the social aspects of the game?
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The New Recruit or How I Almost Got in a Fight with a Sexist Jerk

April 8, 2010

EDIT: Due to this post getting way more attention than I expected, I feel the need to make a few clarifications.
1) This was a one time event that I felt like talking about. A one time event. I write 1500 words about something when I find the topic interesting. It doesn’t mean it’s in the end of the world.
2) After reading the discussion surrounding this post on my blog and on other blogs, I realized that I’m really not being fair to my GM here. Yes, I pointed out his faux pas in the story. Leaving it out would have ended my tale rather abruptly. I (stupidly) wanted to keep explanations brief and simple and focus on myself and on my part in the story. I (again stupidly) left out everything else going on in the guild as well as how he scolded our little troublemaker and patiently listening to my complaining. He also let me get away with this blog post which definitely earns him props. (I’m nervously anticipating his rebuttal blog post, though.)
3) I know troll commenter Kimbo personally. Don’t let him annoy you, his ego would explode and that would be a pain to clean up ;D

I’m acting out of character a lot lately. First a whiny post. Now I’m going to go into guild-related specifics, using a pretty harsh tone. Before you know it, I’ll be making posts about Paladin Cataclysm changes. Ok, maybe that’s pushing it. But anyway, an interesting situation in guild came up recently and I found it worth talking about.

The Story, part 1: How it all started.

On my guild’s application template, there’s a “tell us a joke” section. It’s a rather brilliant idea and tells you a lot about an applicant’s personality. Most applicants tell really lame jokes, but end up being ok people, just not very funny. This one kid, though, had “woman’s rights” as his joke.

While I wouldn’t qualify that as exactly offensive, I had to roll my eyes. Real mature there, kiddo, real mature.

When one of the officers replied with “invited because of joke“, I still wasn’t offended quite yet but was getting a little annoyed. After all, my eyes were becoming sore from all the rolling they were doing.

Things got a little heated when our kickass (female) bear tank cocked an eyebrow. The kid replied with a sarcastic remark. Having enough, I jumped in with a sarcastic remark of my own, pointing out how he was really impressing the women in the guild.

His answer? “Oh yeah, that’s what I play WoW for, to impress women.”

Is that a challenge, little boy? Are you challenging me? I accept your challenge little boy.

I wanted to take him on then and there, but instead I bit my tongue and left a note for my GM.

Let’s play Find-the-Line

Our guild chat is rated well beyond PG-13. Racist and pseudo sexist jokes abound but, for the most part, no one is bothered. Why was this particular behaviour unacceptable to me? Where’s the line?

The line is different from one person to the next. When it comes to sexist jokes especially, tolerance levels vary from woman to woman. A woman who grew up in a sexist environment and who had to fight her whole life to be listened to and respected will probably find nothing funny in sexist jokes. A woman who grew up in a sexist environment and who accepted it as part of life will probably be pretty difficult to offend. A woman who, and I fall into this category, grew up in a female dominated world and sort of takes respect and equality for granted will be somewhere in the middle.

What about this behaviour crossed my line?

1- All I knew about this guy’s personality was negative. The main reason none of the other guys’ pseudo sexist remarks bother me is because I’ve either had normal, enjoyable conversations with those guys in private, or I’ve had strange, irrational conversations with those guys in private, which had them excused as “raving lunatics, not responsible for their words”. All I had seen from this applicant was a very lame attempt at humour and blatant disrespect towards myself and another guildy. Not even good enough to be lumped into the “raving lunatic” category.

2- He didn’t know when to stop. When in doubt, don’t take chances. My guildy and I were subtle in our warnings, but when you have two women, strangers, coming at you with displeased tones after you showed some sexist attitude, you’ll want to test the waters before adding fuel to the fire. Not knowing when to stop is a red flag.

3- An application thread is supposed to impress. When I read an application thread, I see it as the best this person has to offer. This is them selling themselves, trying to impress their future guildies. Obviously, the best this guy has to offer is pretty crappy.

4- The timing was bad. Pseudo sexism was getting stale. We were in the middle of a roster turnover. I was burned out and sick IRL. Sure, he couldn’t have known that this was not the time act like a moron, but when you don’t know what kind of group of people you’re talking to, you should play it safe. Social skills 101.

The Story, part 2: It only get better!

Here’s where things take a strange turn. Our 10 man runs are organized on our offnights. One team runs on Wednesday and one team (my team) runs on Sunday. The kid signed up for Wednesdays’ 10 man. Guess who leads the Wednesday team? Heh. All I can say is that she was far more polite than I would ever be in explaining to him that 10 man teams require a certain level of respect and maturity, qualities he would need to display in order to be considered for a spot. (I would have just flat out told him I have a no asshole policy. In my opinion, he was beyond redemption. He could go die in a fire. Like I let him do several times during Tuesday’s raid.)

Here’s a condensed version of the exchange that followed:

Kid: The GM said I could put smilies when I’m being sarcastic to show I’m joking.
Me: It’s obvious when you’re joking, it’s the nature itself of your joking that’s unacceptable.
GM: Well, what else is he supposed to do?
Me: Usually when you offend someone without meaning to, you apologize.

He did privately apologize to our bear tank. I asked for an apology as well. I didn’t receive one, but I can’t say I was too surprised. After all, he doesn’t need anything from me. (That he knows of.)

Now tells us what you learned…

Did I handle the situation as well as I could have?

No. Of course not.

Honestly, and I know it’s strange, I’ve never encountered this sort of thing before. Ever since my childhood, I’ve been in female dominated environments. Grade school, high school, college, my psych undergrad, pharmacy school, every job I’ve had, the females outnumbered the guys by a lot. Among my siblings, I was the only girl, but I was the oldest and the strongest, so it was a non-issue. I’ve never really had to stand up for myself as a woman. Even in WoW, my old guild was mainly composed of thirtysomething, highly educated, upper middle class, working professionals. Anyone who displayed immaturity in an application was turned away and anyone who offended guildies during their trial period was given a swift /gkick with very little discussion.

When dealing with the pseudo sexism of guild chat, dispelling the joking with more joking usually works pretty well. If I get a “yes, mom” from a guildy I happen to be scolding, I’ll play along, asking if he’s eaten his vegetables. If a conversation takes a turn for worst, a snarky comment of a warning will generally get the other person to back off.

This guy was either utterly clueless, or had no regard for others whatsoever. Either way, it’s very difficult for me to respect such a person. I don’t want to raid with him, I don’t want him in guild chat. The fact that I’m even blogging about this shows a lot.

Still, I recognize that being direct is the way to go for these situations. To me, it’s obvious that you should apologize when your attitude offends. But apparently it isn’t obvious to everyone. Or instead of making a sarcastic remark when he crossed my line, I should have flat out told him on the spot that his behaviour wasn’t cool and that I’d like for him to change his attitude. Would it have made a difference? Maybe not, but he wouldn’t have been able to use “I didn’t know any better” as an excuse.

The “Panties in a Wad” Fear

A large reason that I get nervous about flat out telling people they’re going too far is the “Panties in a Wad” fear. Basically being accused of exaggerating or blowing things out of proportion. The second us girls disagree, it’s “OMG, drama!”, “OMG hissy fit!”, “You must be PMSing!”. This is how we’re taught from a young age to not speak up. Enraging, yes, but once the message sinks in, it’s difficult to unlearn. So we communicate with hints, until we reach our breaking point and it all comes rushing out, reinforcing the notion of women throwing hissy fits and starting drama.

Is the “Panties in a Wad” fear justified? Probably not. Especially not in this guild where, despite our huge member diversity, people are pretty accepting of each other’s limits. Actually, I didn’t even realize how ingrained my panties in a wad fear was until I scolded this kid on the forums and immediately wanted to crawl under the floor afterward.

Moving Forward!

I am looking forward to seeing how this is going to play out. At this point, I’m more entertained than anything else. It’s hard to stay offended given the hilarity of the situation. Still, should the question be asked, I plan on enforcing a “no asshole” policy for my 10 mans. I am going to focus on being direct (I’m sure my guildies will loooooooove this, hahaha) and I’m going to work on getting rid of my panties in a wad fear. I hope for many panties in a wad accusations following this post so I can practice not caring.

It’s that, um, yeah, you know : Bringing up (and keeping up) a delicate topic

October 29, 2009

I like to read guild management blogs (because as my guildies put it, I’m a weirdo) and I see a lot of “these are things you have to confront guildies about” guides. However, I don’t recall ever seeing advice that went beyond: “you need to address these issues for the good of the guild, it’ll be hard but you need to do it”.

As I’ve already pointed out, I’m a weirdo. I enjoy talking to people about delicate topics such as performance improvement or mild disciplinary issues (you know, the type that don’t warrant a /gkick, but need to be addressed with more than a “stop that”). Maybe its because I don’t view it as “being a jerk” or maybe its because these kinds of conversations create somewhat of a bond between myself and the person I’m speaking with. Regardless, I see too many people around me struggle with bringing up and discussing delicate subjects. So here’s one easy way to do it:
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