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Drama Mamas: Friends fight and the guild suffers

Drama Mamas Lisa Poisso and Robin Torres are experienced gamers and real-life mamas -- and just as we don't want our precious babies to be the ones kicking and wailing on the floor of the checkout lane next to the candy, neither do we want you to become known as That Guy on your realm.

Friends are going to fight or at least disagree every once in a while. This really should be a private issue and not one that should spill over into a shared guild ... in a perfect world. What actually happens is drama -- awkward drama that affects the innocent bystanders and fellow guildies. At least that's what happened in this week's email.
Dear Drama Mamas,

I'd been playing in a guild with a couple of RL friends of mine and their friends/relatives. It was a nice, relaxed, casual environment to do some dungeons and 10-mans, and I very much enjoyed it. However, there had always been some sort of drama happening -- the worst of which was last month when, just before a raid, I whispered one of those RL friends of mine with some advice for the fights we were about to do. He was playing a new 80 and he hadn't done a raid in that role before. He immediately logs off, then logs back on a second later and says in raid chat, "DOES ANYONE HAVE A PROBLEM WITH ME!!! OTHER THAN [my name]!!!" We managed to get it sorted out, with appropriate apologies made from both sides, and continued with the raid.
Things seemed OK again until yesterday, when I asked this same guildie a question over guild chat. He and his wife had been doing some renovations around their house, so I asked, "How are the renovations going?" He immediately /gquit on the character he was on and then removed me as a RealID friend. I whispered him to see why he's so angry at me, and he said that I was taunting him, since I knew he hadn't started the renovations yet today. We got into an argument. As he put it: "You have a gift for pissing me off." Figuring that these kinds of outbursts/issues would keep happening as long as I am in the guild with him, and not wanting to put his wife in a position where she has to choose between her husband and her guild, I decided it would be best if I just removed myself from the guild, and proceeded to do so on all of my characters.

I'm sure I could have handled it better both times, though. Did I make the right decision in taking my characters out of the guild? I still feel like I would be uncomfortable in the guild after that, being afraid to say anything to that particular guild member out of fear of him becoming extremely offended/angry. On the other hand, I really liked playing with that guild and I feel like I am sort of letting everyone else down by bailing out. I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place, Mamas. What should I do?

-- Lonely And Afraid
Drama Mama Robin: Lonely, I think you should return to the guild and continue to have fun with everyone else, but -- and this is the important part -- don't ever talk to AngryGuy in game again. I am not at all saying that you should never speak to him outside of the game, nor am I saying AngryGuy is a bad guy. But right or wrong, text communication between the two of you seems to only result in miscommunication. That doesn't mean you can't get along in a group atmosphere. Just don't send him tells, don't offer him advice, don't talk to him directly via any in-game method. And cool it in the physical world for a while, too. Be polite, but don't initiate any communication with him until he indicates he's ready to talk -- hopefully in person.

I like to try to think about why someone is behaving a certain way, rather than assume someone like AngryGuy just hates me and wants nothing to do with me ever again. So I'm going to pretend to put myself in your situation and ask myself a few questions about AngryGuy:
  • Is he going through a lot of stress right now and just not handling it very well? I don't always handle stress very well either.
  • He could be feeling very insecure. If he didn't feel quite ready for the raid, my advice may have made him feel less confident. And if he is feeling bad about the renovations being put off, he may find the subject too touchy to handle.
  • He may think I am a very judgmental person. I don't judge him, but he may think that my advice is actually criticism and my innocent question is actually calling him a slacker. Am I doing something to come off as judgmental?
  • Am I wording some of my messages to him poorly? Without proper vocal inflections and tone, some of my sentences may not "sound" as friendly as I intend them.
  • Does he just not like me, in game or out?
I don't know the whole situation. It could be a combination of the above or something completely different. Regardless, giving the friendship a rest -- particularly in game -- is the best thing for you to do right now. But that doesn't mean you need to ostracize yourself from the rest of the guild. And let AngryGuy choose how to reboot the friendship, if at all. Even if you become best buds eventually, however, I still wouldn't use in-game communication to chat with him ever again.

Drama Mama Lisa: Since you specifically asked, Lonely and Afraid, I'm going to give it to you straight up: Yes, I think removing yourself from the guild -- especially right then and there, when emotions were at their peak -- was the wrong thing to do. Quitting a guild (especially "publicly," when other guild members were online and watching in shock and horror) is less like discreetly slipping out of the room than it is leaping to your feet, storming out and slamming the door so hard it rattles all the pictures on the walls. Whatever disagreement you were having with your friend got turned into a drama-drenched mess for all to see.

If you haven't already burned the bridges, yes, get yourself retagged and get back into guild chat and guild life. Your issue is not with the guild; it's with your friend. He's obviously stressed to the teeth -- in game about raid readiness, and out of game about his home renovations. As Robin advises, simply lay off the communications. Don't be so gun shy that you're afraid to chime in with "Hi, X!" or "Grats!" in guild chat when it's appropriate, but you should probably leave the raid strats and personal questions alone for a while. You may have to moderate your chat with his wife, as well; you don't want to lose your connection with her, but you also don't want to tick off your friend by appearing to ignore him while buttering her up.

Finally, you might recognize a few aspects of your situation in some of our past Drama Mamas advice. Take a look at these posts about gaming with friends to see if any of these situations feel dismayingly familiar:

Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with a little help and insight from the Drama Mamas. Remember, your mama wouldn't want to see your name on any drama. Play nice ... and when in doubt, ask the Drama Mamas at DramaMamas@wow.com.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Drama Mamas

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