Guild leaders have usually spent some time thinking about these things themselves. Often, they've debated the issue with their officers or their membership in the past. They probably believe that, even if the rule or policy isn't ideal, it's at least the lesser of two evils.
Before you approach your GL, you need to consider some possible scenarios. Even small changes can have big consequences. For example, say your guild has a rule that you can't swear in guild chat. You think it's unnecessary censorship and want the rule changed. But what if, after the rule is abolished, your main tank's mom happens to catch someone swearing a blue streak in guild chat as she walks by his monitor. She refuses to let him play the game on the family computer anymore, and now you've got no tank for the raid tonight.
3. Ask around.
Talk to other members and see how they feel about the issue. Present your solution to them and gauge their reaction. They might think of a way to improve your suggested change before you present it to your GL. Or they might give you reasons not to bring it up. Don't treat this survey as a campaign, and don't try to rally support behind your cause just yet. You don't want to stir up drama before you talk to the GL. They'll be less willing to hear you out if you're causing drama.
4. Prepare yourself for disappointment.
Guild leaders are a stubborn bunch. Odds are, the GL is going to hear you out and then say, "No, I like it the way it is. And here's why . . ." You might have well-reasoned arguments and a strong case. But remember -- most guilds aren't a democratic government. Your GL is the one who makes the rules and who also has to enforce them. It's a double whammy when a GL isn't comfortable with a rule change. It might come up once in a while for you, but your GL has to live with it every single day. Someday, he or she may even have to defend the rule against someone like you . . .
5. Approach your guild leader -- in private.
It's never a good idea to approach a GL like a frenzied mob with torches and pitchforks. A quiet, private conversation is best, especially if the points you make may be construed as critical of the guild or its leadership. Make sure your GL isn't in the middle of something else, so you can be sure you have his or her full attention.
Present your case in a rational, organized way. Appeal to your GL's sense of justice, or diplomacy, or even laziness. You know him or her better than I do! Use that knowledge to connect with them on a personal level as you make your argument.
6. Be honest.
If the change will benefit you personally, be upfront about that. Don't shy away from it. Almost assuredly, your GL has already figured out exactly how you might benefit from the change, so glossing over it just makes you look deceptive.
7. Offer to help.
If the change will result in more work for the officers, offer to lend a hand. That will send the message that you're serious about the change. This might be the most important piece of advice in this whole column. One of my biggest pet peeves as a guild leader is when someone who does absolutely nothing to help the guild in any way makes a suggestion that will result in way more work for the officers without offering to lift a finger to help us.
8. Don't resort to cheap tactics.
When people don't like my answer to their suggestions or requests, some resort to outrageous behavior in a desperate, final attempt to get their way. I've seen it all:
- insults or personal attacks
- veiled or open threats to quit the guild
- blackmail to reveal sensitive information or perceived "crimes"
- sly implications that they're aware of some vast underground conspiracy against the leadership and that accepting their suggestion is the only way to stop it from happening
- sly implications that they're leading said movement
Yeah . . . sometimes it gets weird. None of these tactics will persuade your guild leader to change his or her mind about anything, except possibly your continued membership in the guild.
9. Thank the guild leader for hearing you out and tell him or her how you will proceed.
If the GL wasn't persuaded, but you don't plan to let the issue slide that easily, share that intention with him or her. Tell your GL that you plan to reach out to some of the other officers or members to gather support for the change. That way, when you stir things up, your GL can't say that there was no warning. And he or she can't say you didn't give him or her the opportunity to make the change before you started causing trouble.
This is the point where you'll have to rally people to your cause, if you want to take it that far. If enough members support you, your GL may see that it's in the best interest of the guild to change the rule/policy. But even then, he or she may not give in.
While you attempt to do so, don't cause bad feelings that hinder guild activities. Don't embark on a relentless personal crusade. Harping on the same issue over and over again will only annoy people.
10. If all else fails, let it go or leave the guild respectfully.
Don't drag the argument out over weeks or months. You'll have to make a choice: live with it, or leave. if you opt to leave, inform the guild leader why you made that choice. Be polite, but be truthful, too. Explaining the real cause may help him or her to see the light eventually.
To all you members out there, I wish you luck persuading your guild leaders! To all you guild leaders out there, what works on you?
Send Scott your guild-related questions, conundrums, ideas, and suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may find your question the subject of next week's Officers' Quarters!