Guild Guide: Pulling the "we need to talk" trigger won't kill the group

Deciding when to bring up the elephant in the room - even if it kills your guild or clan - is a difficult prospect.

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"We need to talk" is one of those phrases that just sounds scary.  Sure, you can make a point of trying to have all of your talks not be negative ones, but the fact is that it just has too much cultural baggage to ever not sound ominous.  If someone ways "we need to talk," you do not think that they want to talk about how awesome your relationship is and how everything is super great.  It's bad news being delivered by phrasing before the actual hammer falls.

The thing is, sometimes you need to have that talk and say it in a way that makes it clear that things are going badly, because that's the only way that you're going to make it clear how serious things are.

Guilds are not romantic relationships.  Not in theory, anyway.  (It is possible your guild runs very differently than any one I've been a part of, and if you're happy, more power to you.)  But they do suffer from just as much potential drama, and boy, when they turn south there can be fireworks.  There are some issues that you just know will end the guild, because so much rage and anger is going to get thrown around that you cannot help but feel the explosion coming even as you say "look, this guild has a problem."

The question becomes when it's worth doing so anyway.  Even though you know it's going to lead to chaos and anger, sometimes it's worth pulling that trigger and starting the argument that may kill the group.  So let's talk about when it is indeed time to start the argument no matter how much you might want the group to stay together.

We're all in something like this mostly together.

When it's potential death vs. certain death

Let's imagine, for a moment, a situation in which person A runs the guild and person B is their right hand and obvious romantic foil.  All well and good, but person B is widely disliked by everyone who was in the guild before, and they're driving away you and other players with their behavior.  No matter how much person A might like them, person B is absolutely going to be the death of the group if allowed to run unchecked.

That makes the choice a very easy one, because you don't actually need to ask.  If you don't start the argument, the guild will die off.  If you start the argument, it might kill the group, but there's a chance it won't.  And in the final assessment, a chance of killing or splitting the group weighed against definitely splitting the group is a pretty easy choice to make.

The difficult part becomes determining when the group has reached a point of no return without drastic action.  More optimistic people than me, for example, might point out that person B might realize their mistakes before the group actually dies.  To that, I say that in all of my time, I've always found that people tend to notice their impacts and mistakes only when they're pointed out - and yes, I am including myself in that grouping.  You may be your own worst critic, but you are not your own best analytical tool.

If you care enough to keep the group together and you simply can't see it happening at all unless someone speaks up. So speak up.  It might kill the group in the process, but that was already a threat.

I just thought it was part of the furniture.

When the solution would be simple

That last scenario I just suggested?  It also falls under this header, and it's an important aspect to consider, because sometimes the real problem is that the powers that be don't want to fix things.

See, if someone is doing a terrible job as an officer but is otherwise fine, there's a simple solution - remove them from their position as an officer.  Done, everyone goes home.  No need to fret about it.  There doesn't even need to be a whole lot of recrimination.  I've seen several people be promoted, recognize that they were, in fact, terrible officers, and step right back down.  It doesn't mean that the people in question were awful atrocities who should not be permitted around other human beings, it just meant that it turns out they made for bad officers in a guild setting.  Recognizing that is part of being an officer, even.

But when the solution would be very simple but isn't welcomed, that means that the problems run deeper.  And sometimes, you can't see that unless it's pointed out.

Giving up power isn't the only sort of scenario in which this can happen; you can also have a player who just needs to stop doing something in chat, or a member who needs to stop organizing runs without officer approval, and so forth.  The point is that it universally involves someone just doing less.  No one is asking people to do more, it's just a request to step back a little.  If that's going to start a highly factionalized argument that splits the clan forever, it was already splitting, and someone needs to make it clear what's happening.

Might as well do some good as I go.

When you're already done

This one is admittedly a bit on the selfish side, but let's be realistic: there are times when you have already clocked out of the guild.  The little problems have mounted up until they are huge, gaping wounds, and you are basically done no matter what happens.  Fix the problem, let them fester, you no longer care.

At that point, you might as well lay all your cards on the table before you leave.

On the one hand, this can be a supremely nasty thing to do, so I don't recommend it.  You should not just start a big fight in the wake of your departure because you can, because even if you're done the rest of the group might not be.  Other people should not suffer just because you want the satisfaction of being super right and being able to say that you helped break down the group.

At the same time, sometimes it can be done in such a way that it's actually benevolent.  Like I said, there are times when the only way that things will get better is if someone rights what's going wrong, and sometimes it's not possible to see that until it's been pointed out.  Someone has to be the one to pull the trigger... and when you're already leaving no matter what, when you don't care what people say about you once you're gone, you can point things out that everyone else would be reluctant to say.

In other words, your goal here shouldn't be to have a smug sense of "when I'm gone, you'll all be sorry."  The point is that you're leaving no matter what, but you can at least pull some triggers that otherwise wouldn't be pulled.  Yeah, maybe the guild still can't last, but you can at least give them a fighting shot at pulling things together and improving in the future.  And maybe things will get better, even though you won't be there to experience it or see it happen.

It's not about leaving scorched earth, it's about wanting things to be better than when you left.  Nobility, not selfishness.

Published Jun. 12th 2015
View Comments
  • Jay Ricciardi
    I love the header image of this so much.

    On. Point.

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