Set optimistic, attainable goals
Optimism isn't setting unreasonable expectations of yourself. If you've never hit gladiator before, setting a lofty goal of rank 1 Gladiator might sound awesome on the surface, but you might be setting yourself up for disappointment. Here are some goals that I always set for myself when I PvP:
One of my goals is to have a good time. I don't join an arena raid thinking, "Why am I doing this?" or, "I don't want to be here right now," or "I don't like my teammates." My expectation is to have a good time first and foremost, not to win lots of arena games in a row.
If I were all about winning, I'd be much more burned out on arena. Continuing to win in arena is very difficult. In a raiding environment, once all the bosses are on farm, it's not uncommon to fly through an instance and have no one wipe. Opponents never go on farm mode within the arena -- they're constantly reinventing their strategies and team compositions in order to beat you. Setting a goal of going undefeated isn't going to keep you optimistic.
Another goal of mine is to meet new friends. Although I find myself doing arena with the same general nucleus of people, branching out is still somewhat common. Rated battlegrounds have made great strides in getting people to PvP with others -- I've wanted to do arena with so many people I've been impressed with inside a battleground.
Although I'd love to say that my Scarab Lord Mount, Thunderfury, or Rank 1 Titles keep me coming back to the game, it's mostly friends. Virtually all of my friends in WoW are either real-life friends or people I PvP with. The more I PvP, the more access to friendships I have within WoW. Having a good time is a lot less about what you're doing and a lot more about who you're with when you're doing it.
I always set a goal to learn more about PvP. Other than WoW, I've only played a few games in my life -- Magic: The Gathering, Chess, and Halo 2. Each of those games is pretty competitive in nature. Well, okay, competition is pretty much the only thing in those games, actually. You're trying to defeat your opponent in each of them. I guess it was a natural fit once I started playing WoW to jump into PvP and stick with it.
PvP in WoW is very enjoyable, perhaps much more enjoyable than the other games I've played in the past. I've found that PvP is incredibly complex and interesting. Entering an arena or battleground isn't just about mashing random buttons and hoping to come away with a win -- games often evolve into battles of finesse and communication.
I'm always looking to learn more about not only my class and the classes of my opponents, but how those classes interact. Even the differences in arena selection (Dalaran Arena versus Nagrand Arena, for instance) can impact the strategy and playstyle of many teams, shifting the battle in a
n completely new direction. These subtle differences are very interesting nuances that make me appreciate the complexity of WoW PvP. Are some games decided by 10 giant crits in a row? Sure. Most aren't, however.
Optimism is contagious
Having a good attitude makes you much more likely to be successful in whatever you do. Gaining the respect and admiration of others is often tied to your attitude. Don't believe me? Think of the people you respect and admire. More likely than not, they have a successful attitude that spills over to others.
Staying optimistic and friendly is not only important to your enjoyment of the game, but also your teammates'. Being an optimist can change their attitude and perspective on the game for the better in dramatic ways. Interacting with others in a positive way can go a long way to making you a better person -- both inside WoW and outside of it.
Avoid arguments. If someone is wrong on an issue, there are better ways to handle it than starting an argument about it. Arguments are personal -- they're not formal debates or lawyers doing their job. People get defensive very quickly in arguments and ignore relevant or helpful advice. While you might be right about the subject, it won't do you any good if your teammate or friend won't listen to you.
A helpful tactic to avoid arguments is to use mimicry. Mimicry is doing what you want the other person to do before they do it. So, for instance, after a gut-wrenching loss, ask if there is anything you could do better. Maybe your teammates will actually have advice for you that is helpful -- even if your goal is to have them ask if there is anything they could do better (that's when you let them know what they could do better in a positive way).
Show respect. If you don't respect your teammate's opinion, he's not going to respect yours. The proverb "respect isn't given, it's earned," is kind of misleading. If you give respect freely, you'll most likely make a large return. I think a much better proverb is "as you sow, so shall you reap."
Admit wrongs. Teachers are some of the few men and women who you will always remember -- especially when they impact you in a meaningful way. My favorite high school teacher was big on lectures; much of the advice he had for my class will stick with me for the rest of my life.
That same teacher told me something that changed my life: "It takes a real man to admit when he's wrong. There are few things in the world that are more difficult than to admit we were wrong, and when someone does, I have far more respect for them than I had."
Talk about people positively. This goes for behind their back as well as to their face. People don't like finding out later that you voiced disapproval over something they did instead of just talking with them about it. It's a coward's move, and it is reprehensible to try to smear someone's reputation behind their back.
Even if you just get frustrated with a teammate, why not try to talk with him about it in a positive way? Try to get things solved instead of rolling around in discontent and frustration.
This also has an auxiliary lesson: If someone tells you their frustrations with another person, if they get frustrated with you, they will tell someone else. When I start playing with new teammates, I'll occasionally hear them make remarks about past teammates. "He is so bad," is a common one. "He never crowd controls," "he puts out zero damage," etc.
Chances are that this same teammate will slash your reputation once he's done playing with you, too. Just nip it in the bud early on and tell him that you don't want to hear about other people in a negative light because you wouldn't want people to talk about you that way.
Listening music Woody Guthrie's Talking Dustbowl Blues. I love Woody Guthrie. I also understand a lot of people don't, so we won't be featuring him often, but every once in a while is just swell.
Read How to cultivate successful PvP attitudes.
Want to ascend the arena ladders faster than a fireman playing
Donkey Kong? We'll steer you to victory with the best arena addons and let you in on some rank 1 gladiator PvP secrets. If you're looking for the inside line on battlegrounds and world PvP, read The Art of War(craft).