Your Mouth and How to Shut It

Hilarious title, when you consider that I’m the author of this post, right? One of the longer-winded bloggers, whose posts can often exceed 3000 words, is advising people on how to keep quiet? INCONCEIVABLE!

But seriously, folks, there is a very interesting issue that can arise in a raiding guild, particularly when you feel you understand a fight better than those who are organizing it.

Full disclaimer: I do both. I organize fights for Apotheosis (still seeking skilled DPS, including WARLOCKS PLEASE) and I’m a part of the rank and file in Choice.

One thing that I have noticed, as a raid leader for Apotheosis (both now and back in BC) is that I loathe people telling me what to do when I’m the raid leader. Note that this is very different from entertaining suggestions or people offering advice. I loathe when people say “Kurn, you’re doing it wrong, we have to do it this way”. It drives me crazy. In part, it’s because many times, the individuals who say these things to me are wrong (in that they’re forgetting a key part of the fight or encounter or whatever), but it’s also like, “hey, now, buddy. Show a little respect for the pecking order.”

In Apotheosis, I’m in charge. I oversee the raids, I am the guild master. I don’t run the guild like a dictatorship and I don’t have vetos or anything and I largely view my role as one of a mediator/administrator/communicator, rather than one of SUPREME DICTATORSHIP. (Although I have fantasies about being able to do anything I want, from time to time.  What guild master doesn’t?) But really, I don’t have to “answer” to anyone, technically, when it comes to raids. (Apart from showing progress for my raid group, lest they lose faith in me.)

Having said that, we do have review threads up for every single raid and everyone is welcome to chime in about what they thought worked/didn’t work and how to better improve something. 25 pairs of eyes is better than one, after all. I’m more than happy to hear what the guildies saw and what they think and I may (or may not) incorporate their suggestions/observations into further refinements of strategy.

I will even sometimes ask during the raids if anyone has an idea for something or if people have any suggestions, although most of our discussions take place on our forums.

And I also constantly consult with the officers to see what the impressions/problems are from a DPS/healing standpoint as well.

So it’s not that I don’t like taking advice and it’s not that I don’t like hearing what others think. I just feel strongly that there’s a time and a place for it and, in our guild, more often than not, it’s in the raid review forum.

Now flip that around.

Two nights a week, I raid with Choice — as a holy pally (on the “baby pally”, as I call her). The fights are the same as what I’ve seen in Apotheosis, since we’re both raiding Dragon Soul and attempting heroic bosses, both on 25-man. My own role is almost easy, because all I have to do is heal my assignment, as opposed to heal as well as oversee everything. It’s FUN to raid without any additional responsibility.

All of a sudden, however, I am keenly aware that I know the fights very well (given my other role as a raid leader with Apotheosis) and possibly know them better than some of the people in that guild.

The question here, when the raid group is struggling on an encounter, is “do I say something or do I keep my mouth shut?”

Since I absolutely loathe being told what to do in my own raids, I try to approach being a raider the way I want my raiders to act towards me. I will likely, privately, point out some issues to an officer and if the officer encourages me to do so, I’ll whisper the RL themselves. Or, even more likely, I’ll send a PM to an officer at the end of the raid, or occasionally post something in the raid forum after the raid with some of my identification of issues.

Throughout the raid itself, I will usually not say a lot with regards to strategy. That’s not my role. It’s not my raid group. And since I only raid twice a week with them, the officers are a lot more familiar with their group than I am. While most strats for most bosses share a similar basic strategy, it’s the nitty gritty parts that can, and do, change from raid group to raid group. I have to trust that the leaders in Choice are doing what’s best for their group.

Even if they’re struggling.

It’s occasionally frustrating to see the raid group not doing as well as they could be. The question isn’t actually saying something versus not saying something: it’s “do everything I can to make sure the raid succeeds versus letting them figure it out themselves”.

While I have no doubt that Choice will eventually get to the point where they want to be for kills and progression (they’re just one boss back of Apotheosis), it’s still sometimes hard to see them hit the exact same struggles we saw, because I KNOW how we solved that. Hell, I probably HELPED to solve that problem. And since they’re so close to us in progression, it’s really fresh in my mind as to how we solved those issues.

But at the same time, I know that I would quickly lose patience with some know-it-all who showed up in MY raid and proceeded to tell me how to do MY job as a raid leader.

So I largely keep my mouth shut with regards to strategy in a raid setting, unless I’m asked about something in particular.

But I do touch base with some of the officers to let them know of my concerns or issues or suggestions, usually after the raid. Choice has a raid forum for discussions, but they don’t do the level of raid review that Apotheosis does, so on the rare occasions I’ll post something public in the forums, it’s often just a lone post from me saying “well, this is why the tank died, this is who blew up the raid with deep corruption” and the like.

That’s also kind of frustrating, because I know the people there are interested in bettering their performances and preventing mistakes, but since it’s usually me posting these things, I feel like the mean ol’ person calling people out. In Apotheosis, that’s fine! I’m the raid leader! I can do that! In Choice, it’s somewhat more difficult to get my points across without seeming as though I’m an authority figure, or trying to BE an authority figure.

So for me, the best way to deal with this is to whisper or private message an officer with my concerns and post where appropriate on the guild forums.

My advice to those who are watching their raid group struggling, who think they have a better idea — unless asked for your advice during a raid, hold off until afterwards. Chime in on a review thread, or start your own, or chat with your role officer/friendly officer about your thoughts and ideas.

So it’s not exactly shutting your mouth. It’s more like holding your tongue until you have an appropriate time and place to discuss those things. And something else you need to be aware of: your advice may not always be taken or listened to. Unless you’re in charge of the raids, you always have to expect that your advice may be dismissed by the leaders. And that’s okay — you’re a team and your leaders may choose to go in another direction. The best thing you can do, as a member of that team, is support your team and team leaders and throw in your two cents’ worth at appropriate times in appropriate places.

(Also, have you listened to Episode 52 of Blessing of Frost yet? Why not?)

(Seriously. Warlocks. Apply now. Please.)

5 Replies to “Your Mouth and How to Shut It”

  1. I have been on both sides of this situation. When I raid lead back in AoTP I made sure to research every fight down to the tiny details and made sure I could explain them properly to my raid. I hated when people would whisper and chime in with things they saw another guild do. “I dont care what other guilds have done we are doing it how I told you to.”

    After transferring off ET and going back to being part of the mass I found it hard not to chime in a bit, with some knowledge about the fight that the raid leader has left out. Now this is partly my fault because I research WAY too much about a fight, but I always keep myself in check and make sure not to demand my way.

    The guild I am in now seems to have found a perfect balance between the two styles. We all listen to our raid leader and follow her instructions, but she also takes time during the raid to allow other members to chime in with observations of their own as long as its in a reasonable manner and not just random nonsense. I enjoy this way immensely and I feel its the reason we have done so well this tier. I agree with you on how to deliver your advice though, spamming raid chat or mumble with your opinion at inappropriate times does nothing for the raid group.

    I say don’t be afraid to speak up in Choice. You obviously know your stuff and you understand how to deliver it so all it can do is help :)

    BTW long time reader first time commenting :)


    Hai Apoth buddies! :D

  2. As a raid leader I think it is all about how the suggestion is put across. In general in raids I am always open to suggestions it is impossible for me to play every role and see everything that is going on in a fight amd so I am always eager to receive any information.
    Having said this their are a few ground rules to this that are very important.

    1) The buck stops with me. I will be held responsible if the tactics are wrong I will be the person trying to come up with something new when your crazy idea didn’t work so if I decide not to try your suggestion tough…

    2) Don’t undermine my authority in a raid. This may sound like ego but it really isn’t. As a raid leader it is important I have the respect of my team or they wil never perform for me. If you think the tactics are wrong be diplomatic ask if you can make a suggestion don’t simply imply that I am an idiot and we are doing it wrong.

    3) Be prepared to back up your ideas I spend a lot of time researching fights so when someone comes up with a suggestion my first reaction is usually to ask how it will help and then point out any potential issues I can think of. I am not trying to disparage your idea I am just playing devils advocate to try and work out if it is worth trying in as short a time as possible.

    4) If your point is regarding the performance of another player then say it in /w. Despite what many people seem to believe the best way to get the most out of your players isn’t always to insult their mistakes. I have been leading my players for a long time and I know which can take harsh criticism and which need it sugar coating so they don’t suffer a crisis of confidence and play terribly the rest of the evening.

    Another thing that players do that sometimes really winds me up is attempt to be cheerleaders. After every wipe they insist on saying something like “come on guys stop slacking!” or even worse “We need to kill this soon they are nerfing it again next week play properly!!”. Believe it or not I actually put quite a lot of effort into maintaining a calm focused atmosphere in the raids. Some players don’t play so well under pressure and your constant attempts to encourage them aren’t as helpful as you think.

  3. I believe there’s a very thin line between a ‘moderately hardcore’ guild and a ‘super hardcore’ guild.

    I’ve been in guilds where you get sat immediately for tiny errors and the RL would single you out in front of 23+ people and yell at/lecture you.

    I’ve also been in guilds where everyone have fun and joke around, and when it comes to business everyone gives their best and an occasional brain block would be laughed at as long as it’s not habitual.

    It depends on your playstyle i guess, and what you’ve signed up for. I respect RLs that know what they’re doing, but at the same time I resent those who act like they’re bossing people around and talk in a condescending manner.

    To me, a good RL has to be a good communicator. I’ve always felt that ‘officers’ and ‘guild masters’ are only positions where people would sacrifice their time to organize, and only organize. That is something to respect for, but at the same time, they cannot act like they’re ‘my bosses’ or ‘they’re superior’ in *any* remote sense.

  4. Oh, and congrats on the Konzoznz kill! Ultraxion is super easy (comparatively) but Blackhorn is really tough…. we’ve been stuck there for 3 nights already

  5. I’ve been in a similar position as you with regards to your “Baby Paladin” – in our regular raid, I “lead” with someone else (it’s less officious than most guilds, but we still make calls and whatnot), but then I also raid fairly regularly with my brother’s guild, whose guild is more casual and a bit behind in terms of progression. I quite enjoy being able to raid in “relaxed” mode where I’m not raid-leading or doing calls or anything, but it IS a little odd/awkward when they run into a stumbling block that I have already dealt with in my main raid.

    Fortunately, in my case it’s a little less touchy a subject because the RL is my brother, so I can always tell him what I think we should do or offer suggestions without worrying about any drama. That being said, sometimes I just don’t say anything and let their leaders work it out the way they want, since I feel that’s often the most satisfying thing to overcome as a guild.

    Nice topic. :)

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