Guild Chat: When sibling rivalry is ruining MMO guild relations
Welcome along to Guild Chat, the column through which I attempt to resolve all of your guild-related issues with the help of the Massively Overpowered commenter community. This time, reader Sol has asked for help in bringing some sibling conflict to an end in his guild: He is an officer who is at the mercy of the two guild leaders, who happen to be sisters who seem to disagree on most guild leading decisions. Sol is frequently asked to arbitrate the disputes and frequently ends up in the firing line himself as a result, and adding to this is the knock-on effect their rather public arguments are having on guild membership levels. Sol is torn: Should he keep on trying to make peace between the sisters, or should he move on to pastures new in the hopes of finding a more comfortable in-game home?
Check out his full submission and my advice on the matter below, and don’t forget to add your thoughts on the topic in the comments.
“Tina, my guild leaders are driving me freaking crazy and I can’t see how to solve it. Two sisters who will remain unnamed run my guild and I am an officer. We do have a couple officers other than that, but we three mainly do it all because the others can’t deal with the drama caused by the sisters. I don’t know how to describe it, but basically every decision one makes causes a row with the other one and they just disagree like crazy about every little thing no matter how small or how reasonable the idea. Like if one runs something, the other tries to create an event that conflicts with its time or something, or if one punishes a member, the other will defend them. The guild is fairly basic but close, but now members are leaving because of it. I am also always in trouble with one or the other because they make me sort out who is in the wrong all the time, so I am always yelled at by someone. What do I do?”
I totally understand how such a volatile familial relationship could put the brakes on your efforts when it comes to wrangling your guild, Sol, and I’m sorry you’re taking some heavy hits to your roster as a result. The worse part of the position you’re in from what I’ve read is that you are thrown into the middle of these petty rows, which these ladies must realise is affecting you. I can’t begin to imagine how that would make you feel: There really is no winning when, regardless of what you say, you’re going to offend someone who has some authority over you. I’ll give you my advice on the situation in the hopes that you can get back to enjoying your gaming time without the sibling rivalry getting in the way.
I say this kindly because I know you’ll have invested quite a bit of your precious leisure time into building up this particular guild with the leaders, and I realise you might well have meaningful relationships with the leaders individually and the other guild members, but sometimes a clean break is needed. How long can you remain in the middle of these disputes for? How likely is it that habits that have likely lasted these sisters a lifetime can be broken quickly? It’s up to you to find where your tolerance level sits: Perhaps small changes in their behaviour or at the very least an acknowledgement of the work you do to hold them together will be enough for you, but I would have to walk.
The beauty of moving on is that you now have this immensely sought after, readily transferable skillset to bring with you. Every argument you arbitrated for them, event you managed while they bickered, and member you recruited to keep the guild going is a testament to your leadership skills, ability to communicate, and resilience in the face of adversity. You’ll slot wonderfully in a guild that could use all of those skills more effectively, or you could even use what you’ve learned to create your own. If you do decide to go this direction, I recommend you check out some of the earlier editions of Guild Chat for advice on setting up a guild in a way that prevents issues down the line.
Now that I’ve urged caution in trying to battle on within your guild, I’ll do my best to give you some advice in case you can’t bring yourself to move on at this stage. The main thing you need to do is to become the king of serene around your guild: You’ll want to tackle their behaviour in a non-confrontational yet clear fashion, and then you’ll want to disengage and let them decide how to proceed. You didn’t give me many examples of their specific behaviours in your submission, but I’ll go ahead and illustrate what I mean by this. Say, for instance, one sister creates an event and you soon notice a second event of the same type is being promoted in the same timeframe by the other sister: You simply delete the newest event where possible or, if you lack the permissions, you attend the original event and explain clearly why you did so.
To avoid any conflict resulting from you being assertive, keep your responses factual and inject playful humour where you can to diffuse the tension. If I were snubbing the latter event as in my example, I would say something like, “Oh, there is a calendar clash and Sister A was slower off the mark, so I’ll go ahead and fix this for us. Sister B, better luck next time!” and would disengage from there. Sympathise with the sister who doesn’t get her way without changing your stance, and just know that in doing so you are helping nip this behaviour in the bud before the entire guild is forced to pick a side.
If there is no clear way to make a decision for them in a certain scenario, place the onus on them and pull any public shows of dissent as they appear until a resolution is found. An example here is if both have had a disagreement when you were offline and you come back to a slanging match in the guild chat. Chat to both together, telling them that the guild is not the place to sort out the dispute and that you know they can both sort it out privately and come back with a united front again. Diffuse the tension in chat by running an ad-hoc event, starting a trivia quiz, or diverting the conversation away from the sisters, and keep redirecting them to private channels if they try to take up the row publicly again.
I’m going to play devil’s advocate a little here and try to explain their persistently adversarial behaviour. Perhaps these women have grown up with this level of vivacious bickering being commonplace, and they don’t actually understand the impact their rowing has on everyone else around them because their actions are so normalised in their working models. While this isn’t your problem, it does give you an important insight into why this continues to rage on despite its effect on you. While the impact it has on your enjoyment of the guild might be clear to you and the majority of its members, the sisters might well miss your cues of uncomfortableness due to their escalated emotions at the time of the row.
If you hang around, honesty is the best policy: You must make it clear that they are oftentimes placing you in an impossible position where you have to take sides and face the wrath of the sister you are slighting. Use facts to illustrate your point and be as specific as possible when tackling this issue so they can’t downplay their fallouts or say their personalities don’t have an impact on you or the guild. Point out just how many members have left if you have access to those figures, and discuss specific arguments that have made you or other members feel uncomfortable. Be kind yet firm, and disengage from any subjective disputes over their behaviour: You simply wouldn’t bring it up if it weren’t annoying you, and you have to make them take that seriously — if they value you, they will.
Once you’ve brought up the topic, focus on prevention of further escalation and make a plan to tackle it if this should happen again. With such habitual behaviour, the sisters are sure to slip up, so it is important to establish some sort of protocol for handling this without letting the sniping explode out into the guild chat channels. I can’t tell you what this protocol will look like because it will be a unique agreement between the leaders, you, and any officers who still wish to be involved, but it should make clear what unacceptable exchanges look like, how it can be brought up discreetly, and what the resolution should look like. You might also include practical prevention tips, such as Sister A running events on odd dates and Sister B running them on even dates, or that both sisters must mutually agree on the event calendar before it is made public and any changes to that plan go through you.
Over to you!
Remember that sticking around is potentially sentencing yourself to a future of policing a tense situation: No matter what call you make, remember that no decision is permanent and you can always leave after trying to remedy the situation if things take a sour turn. Good luck, Sol, and let me know how it goes!
What do you think? Could you cope with a pair of bickering sisters as guild leaders, or would you walk away and cut ties? Let Sol know your solutions in the comments.
Thanks to Sol for this submission. If you have an issue that needs the help of Guild Chat, shoot me an email for consideration.