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Officers' Quarters: How to earn respect as a teen officer

Teen prince Anduin Wrynn in Stormwind
Every Monday, Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership. He is the author of The Guild Leader's Handbook, available from No Starch Press.

Teenagers as a whole have a terrible reputation in online games. In WoW, they are blamed for everything that's wrong with the community. People say they have no patience, they don't know how to play the game, they ruin chat channels with mindless chatter, and they're selfish, whiny, lazy, disrespectful, and entitled. Certainly some of the people who fit these accusations are teenagers.

However, not every teenager acts this way, and a good portion of the people who do are actually adults. On the internet, unfortunately, perceptions tend to win out over reality. This week, a teenaged officer asks how she can earn the respect of her peers.

Hello there Scott-

Our guild currently is going through some major issues at the moment when it comes to who shall be running what when it comes to what is occuring in the guild. ... About a month or two ago, our guild leader ... decided to call it quits for the time being, our guild was going downhill at that time, and people starting to abandon us. We reasonably thought that sooner or later this guild was gonna expire sometime in the future, and that nothing could stop it.

However, it came to the point where some of our officers and such managed to pull back the guild together through emails and messages spread across multiple medias. Our guild, in my mind, finally has settled back into what it was before, however without the guild leader to guide us. All of us (the officers) decided to take the role of leader. ... Things were going pretty smoothly.

To give some background information about me so the issue seems more clear, i am currently one of the officers of our recovering guild. I myself have been part of this guild for little over a year currently, and as a fourteen year old teenage girl, i am the more hilarious yet foolish officers of the guild. Many of the people know me solely for the hyper-active attitude i bring to our raid team.

Back in the past, as an avid raider ... in another previous guild when i was originally from another server ... the guild leader decided to quit, and we were struggling to put our raid team together. I managed to take the liberty of leading our raid team throughout the last few weeks that we had. It was here that I realized the true raid potential that I had. We breezed through the content, farming the bosses weekly on to get the best loot at that time. Sadly, our officers, including me, decided to end our raiding career in the guild, as too much issues were appearing that we could not handle. Flash foward to my new server where my friends currently reside ... now I am part of this guilds raiding team aiming for the gold in the Dragon Soul raid.

Now like i had previously stated, i am the crazy youngling of the guild, but yet everyone respects me for that, the occasional chuckle and laughter i bring them, and reputation as one of the best healers in our raiding team. Problem is, it's this "reputation" as the crazy and upbeat girl thats holding me back in the raid. Even as an officer, i feel as if my say in what occurs seems ignored due to me being a child and that there would be no chance they would listen to anyone as wacko as i am. ... My personal dream would be to become the raid leader of our raid team. ... Is there any way i can manage to tell them my true potential, or am i currently stuck in the little league while everyone speeds ahead of me?

-The Diamond in the Rough


Hi, DITR.

It's a cliché, but I'll type it out anyway: Respect is always earned, never given.

You've earned respect as a healer, and that is to your credit. It's a very tough role in raiding today. Also, the fact that you are an officer tells me that the other officers already think highly of you in some areas.

Respect as a leader, however, is much harder to earn. Your youth and your persona are definitely working against you, but you can overcome that.

Choose your battles

Choosing your battles is key. Don't weigh in on every issue. If you give an opinion that you haven't thought through or you don't care much about the outcome, your fellow officers will sense that. They will dismiss your argument, and they will be less likely to take you seriously in the future.

Give your opinion when it really matters -- when it's a topic you know well and you're invested in a specific outcome. Be serious for a moment and give honest, well-reasoned arguments. If others disagree, you can argue further or you can accept it, but always do so with dignity. Never resort to personal attacks or emotional responses. Eventually, the other officers will learn that you can be thoughtful and that, despite your jokes, you do care about certain issues.

You can still be yourself -- the trick is to show your peers that there's more to you than they might have assumed.

The path to raid leading

You already have some experience as a raid leader, and that is a great first step. Raid leading, as you know, is a premier role within a guild. For a raiding guild, the entire guild's success hinges on having an effective raid leader.

However, a guild needs officers to do a lot more than that. So step up! Volunteer to help with whatever duties you can, and then do them well. When people see that you are capable of following through with responsibilities and that you are committed to helping the guild succeed, people will begin to see you as an officer who gets things done. All too many officers in WoW do absolutely nothing, so you'll set yourself apart.

In the meantime, learn the classes and bosses better than anyone. Then put that knowledge to good but respectful use. Don't show up the raid leader or try to take over. Instead, be an asset to that person. You'll need him or her in your corner if you want to lead raids someday.

Offer suggestions when and where it's appropriate in your guild's raiding culture. When people figure out that you're right more often than not, they will begin to see you as someone who can help the guild progress.

It's always going to be tough for someone your age to earn the respect of older adults. Be patient, work hard, and you will get there. I've known teenagers who were fantastic officers, greatly respected by both their peers and the membership at large. It can be done!

/salute

Officers' Quarters keeps your guild leadership on track to cope with sticky situations such as members turned poachers or the return of an ex-guild leader and looking forward to what guilds need in Mists of Pandaria. Send your own guild-related questions and suggestions to scott@wowinsider.com.

Filed under: Officers' Quarters (Guild Leadership)

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