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Drama Mamas: How to deal with an overzealous guildie

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.

One way or another, this week's letter writer is going to give her biggest fan the slip.
Dear Drama Mamas,

I'm a GM of a casual RP/social guild. As such I do my best to be diplomatic, friendly, and keep things friendly and inviting for my guildies. We've kept it going for years with ups and downs and I'm incredibly proud of how little drama we've had all things considered. I'd hate to be the source of any drama so am considering this a preemptive strike.

There is one particular guildie who isn't breaking any rules, is a wonderfully creative RPer, and annoys the everliving crap out of me. It's not his fault, it's a personality thing. He rubs me the wrong way. We're very different people with different senses of humor and priorities etc and so on. And that'd be fine, I'm an adult perfectly capable of getting along and keeping the peace with people I don't necessarily jive with. Except that he is DEAD SET on becoming my BEST FRIEND FOREVER. To the point where my dislike has steadily grown into a total reluctance to log on.

Maybe it's because I'm the GM but every time I log on he's all over me. He's constantly begging for my attention and kissing up like there's no tomorrow and the more he does it the more annoyed I become. If I'm friendly, he's encouraged. If I'm stand offish, quiet, or distracted he tries harder and becomes even more obnoxious. The man does not take hints and is persistent as hell. I feel like a tired old cat getting tackled by an excited puppy. I noticed that before he realized my alt was me he was quieter in guild chat and I found being online more peaceful. Soon as he realized who I was the intense brown-nosing ensued. Thank God he doesn't have my battletag.

This has been snowballing for so long I'm at a loss for how to handle it appropriately. I feel physical relief when he's not around and cringe looking for excuses to log off when he appears. I find myself dreading guild activities because he'll be there and I've been conditioned to tense up just seeing his character's name. It seems so petty and stupid and I genuinely feel embarrassed and guilty for having this reaction. I'm worried I'll crack at some point and hurt his feelings by unleashing some pent up brutal honesty. I don't want to be a jerk but...I'm nearing my limit. I can feel the passive aggressiveness rising. I'm fighting it like mad.

As a GM I need to be fair and not leave him out just because I personally am not a fan. He's enthusiastic and has tons more energy than I do and that's a good thing when it's not directed at me. I have a lot of RL to deal with and proactive guildies are a godsend.

As a human being I need him to stop and back off my last nerve. I'm not his BFF. I need my space and am not amused or flattered. I cannot seem to get him to understand that. I'm just so freaking drained at this point. I log in to relax and have fun as much as anybody else does. Lately, it's a source of stress rather than enjoyment.

What's the most drama free, kind, compassionate, appropriate way I can get my sanity back? As a GM and a human being?

Thanks so much for your time,
-Eye of the Storm

Drama Mama RobinDrama Mama Robin: He's your biggest fan! This kind of attention can be exhausting, so don't feel guilty about how this guy's behavior makes you feel. I've got something you can try. The next time he's brown-nosing you, say privately

"I've been meaning to tell you this for a while, and I know this may seem weird, but I am very uncomfortable with flattery. I hope you understand. :)"

The emoticon will help keep it friendly, but if you are more likely to do something like "/smiles" then do that instead. The above statement will stop any considerate person. It puts the fault entirely on your side for letting it go on this long, so that he won't feel too bad about making you feel uncomfortable.

If he relapses, which is likely until he gets used to the new situation, whisper, "You're flattering me again. :P" (or /grumpyface). If he just won't stop, then he knows he's being inconsiderate at this point, so you can stop worrying about hurting his feelings. You still need to admonish him every time -- again, privately. "Dude. I said stop already."

We're trying to avoid confrontation here, but if nothing will make him stop, then you should consider yourself being harassed. Unfortunately, there is no avoiding the drama if this is the case. Privately tell him that he is making you feel harassed and if he can't stop, you'll have to kick him and put him on ignore. I really don't think it will come to this. A few admonishments should calm him down.

I know flattery isn't the only problem you're having with him, but just getting him to stop being a brown nose should really help matters.

Good luck and let us know what happens.

Drama Mama LisaDrama Mama Lisa: It's time to play the overworked GM card, Eye. The demands of being a busy guild leader are generally well known across WoW, even among new (and clueless!) players. Nobody's going to fault you for asking for some breathing room from your duties.

You might not have to make responding to your little friend's badgering a personal thing. We're betting you can couch your strategic withdrawal from him (we've dubbed him "Charlie" in our past examples) completely in terms of needing game time for yourself. Let's review some of the things we went over in a recent article on how to carve out breathing room in game:
  • "No." That's the magic word. Just "no." Oh sure, you can couch it a little: "Nahhh, I'm not really up for that instance again tonight" -- but ultimately, you must learn to tell this player "no." Don't allow Charlie to hold your attention and energy hostage all night.
  • Don't cave in. The sound of crickets if Charlie continues to press too far will set a much more effective pattern than caving in to his pestering and demands. It could backfire, of course, and offend him so much that he leaves. And really now -- would you miss him?
  • Or take a tip from Robin and go AFC. "I have created a new acronym that I use for instant messaging: AFC," she explains. "I invented it. I don't care if anyone else thought of it previously; it's mine now. AFC means Away From Chat. To go AFC, type something in like /dnd Playing solo AFC (away from chat). You will be labeled as busy, and anyone chatting at you will get the message. Your Real ID status will also change to Busy -- congratulations, you're now AFC!"
  • If despite your best efforts Charlie continues to try to engage you, you can either ignore it or reply with something like, "I'm sorry, but I'm focusing on some solo activities right now. So I'm AFC. :)"
Unfortunately, unless Charlie's actively badgering you specifically, these tactics won't be of much use. He'll still be gallumphing about in chat, Vent, the raid ... Ugh.

You can take yourself off the hook for being required to put on a happy face about it, though, by placing yourself on a temporary leave of absence. Can you ask one of your officers to step in and serve as GM for a while until your stress blows over? The official explanation for your absence can remain vague; I'd recommend the old "lot of things going on in real life right now, just need to go low-key for a while" maneuver. Tell your officers that if players seem curious, they should tell them you're feeling a lot of pressure to constantly serve as point person and you're feeling snappish and overstimulated. (Truth, am I right?)

Once you're out of the GM's seat, you won't have to acknowledge Charlie's antics and constant pressure. You've officially put yourself on default AFC status; keep using that tactic on a regular basis, too. Shift most of your conversations from guild chat to whispers or channels where Charlie isn't participating.

The enforced vacation from you may help break Charlie's fixation (habit?), and it will definitely give you the breathing room you need to regain your perspective and enjoy yourself again.

Let us know how things work out!
Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with a little help and insight from the Drama Mamas. Play nice ... and when in doubt, ask the Drama Mamas at robin@wowinsider.com. Read Robin's section of this post on how to get your letter answered and please remember that we cannot answer privately.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Drama Mamas

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