Leave the last word to others
Whether it's on an internet forum or in chat, players love to have the last word. They'll double, triple, and quadruple down just to hammer home their point, no matter how asinine or irrelevant it is. On forums, it leads to threads that are easly 25 times longer than they need to be, and in chat, it can lead to an entire evening's worth of repetitive chatter that just circles around the issue.
It might seem hard to back off from an argument, but sometimes, letting others have that highly prized last word can help defuse the situation while also letting you be the one to take the high road. If a discussion is spinning its wheels, step away and grab a popcorn and a soda while everyone else tires himself out. If nothing else, you got a good snack from the whole ordeal and probably saved a bit of your sanity at the same time.
It's amazing how reluctant members are to just be honest about things in game, and it's equally amazing how much drama it can create. The two main examples of this are replying to requests in guild and participating in guild events. Instead of ignoring that socially awkward member that pesters the guild for help (or worse, making up excuses not to help), guild members should just be honest and politely decline the request. If a member can't accept a reasonable response of no, he probably isn't going to settle for anything less than a yes anyway.
The second example is the cloak and daggers of trying to dodge a guild event, particularly raiding. While it was often hilarious to make a minigame out of guessing the times and excuses that people would come up with to leave a raid early, it was disappointing that people felt the need to do so in the first place. The same holds true to members who make secret alts or suddenly disappear completely from a game. More and more, I see members now who are upfront with me about wanting to take a little raiding break or who want to switch to another game, and I appreciate that because I have a much easier time managing the roster, filling recruiting needs, and preparing the guild to handle that absence.
How are we going to get there?
It's bad enough that MMOs are moving more and more toward asynchronous gameplay, but even when it comes to cooperative, in-game goals, guildies tend to think in terms of personal goals, with the guild surrounding them to provide backup. If I had a nickle for every time I saw a guildmember suddenly turn into Gollum at the precipice of Mount Doom, I could retire a very rich elf. When you have a group of like-minded people who are mindful of the big picture when it comes to guild endeavors, it's a very fun place to be. There's a sort of selfless vibe in the guild, and with everyone looking out for each other, the guild as a whole can accomplish the goal with hardly any drama.
Work the problem
One of my favorite scenes in the film Apollo 13 is when Gene Krantz, played by Ed Harris, responds to the news the crisis in space by saying, "Let's work the problem, people. Let's not make things worse by guessing." What stands out for me was, at that moment, instead of blowing a gasket, venting, fuming, or panicking, he focuses on solving the problem, and at the same time, helps everyone else concentrate on trouble-shooting. That's a great attitude to have, no matter the situation.
In a guild, there are always problems, and it's easy to get wrapped up in the emotional reaction to an issue rather than remain calm and solve the problem. Older guilds tend to do well with staying focused and not getting too emotional when things get rocky primarily because they've been around long enough and have weathered just about everything possible. The first time an issue flares up, it's easy for a guild to go into full panic mode and overreact; when you've experienced a certain issue a few times, it's not nearly as alarming because you've already successfully handled it in the past and you know what to do. Great guildies are the ones who pull people away from the ledge and get them to "work the problem."
It's not that hard to be seen as a great guildie, and those who are usually become models for others in the guild. Ironically, it's probably less work, and definitely less stress, to be a great guildmate. One underlying commonality in all of these suggestions is to not get too wrapped up in things. It's easy to let things like loot, player personalities, and guild challenges dominate your playtime, to the point that it becomes hard to just log in and enjoy the game. Being honest, working the problem, looking at the guild as a team, and knowing when to step away from a heated discussion are all easy to do and will make your time in guild more enjoyable -- and others' as well.
Do you have a guild problem that you just can't seem to resolve? Have a guild issue that you'd like to discuss? Every week, Karen Bryan takes on reader questions about guild management right here in The Guild Counsel column. She'll offer advice, give practical tips, and even provide a shoulder to lean on for those who are taking up the challenging task of running a guild.