The title is a reference to my famous inability to remember to swap my fishing hat with my healing cowl. I blame outfitter. Srsly.
I was having a debate the other day with my death knight/mage fiance about healing, prompted by some fairly heated comments I left on Ful's blog. I was explaining to him why certain things matter to healers that other people don't even seem to consider. Then the thought struck me - maybe I'm just not a very good healer.
I don't say that to fish for compliments, or even in a self-deprecatory manner. I really don't know. If the only real way to tell for sure if a healer is doing their job is to say "well, no one is dead", then I guess most of the time I'm doing a decent job. If you use a healing meter to evaluate my mad skillz, then I probably do okay there too. Until you look at overheals. I could just sit there and spam prayer of healing for the hell of it, or out of boredom, you know.
It's a common problem raid leaders and healing leads have: evaluating the performance of a healer. If a healer is doing a great job, then they may not even be noticed. Some healers throw out giant heals (mmmm Holy Light), and others are there to keep you from taking any damage in the first place (just ask Matticus or any other Disc priest). And there are plenty of times when even the best healers cannot prevent a total wipe.
How do you evaluate the skill of the healing player? Beyond the gear and the stats, there is communication. It is important for healers to communicate with one another, in addition to the healing targets. I know I'm constantly whispering back and forth with other healers during our raids, and with the tank. Granted, most of the time she and I are trying to come up with rules for a new Naxx drinking game, but sometimes we actually do discuss when she seems to be taking the most damage, how she can avoid it (if possible), and how I can react healing-wise or mitigate if possible. Is she not getting healed up enough before the tank-toss in the Thaddius fight? She can't prevent that - but I can. And if I personally can't, I can send a tell to a healer on the other platform and tell them to throw more HoTs before the toss.
Attitude and diplomacy is important as well, as far as I'm concerned. Calling someone out for standing in the pool of NoobDeath may be necessary, but you can find nice ways to do it. You can announce to the whole raid "be sure to watch out for NoobDeath!", but you don't need to point fingers, and name specifically who is doing it. It just upsets people and makes them defensive most of the time. If they still aren't getting it, you can send them a whisper - "Hey I know it can be hard to see the NoobDeath because of Death Knights' Death and Decay, but I won't be able to heal through that, so you'll have to keep a close eye out for it. :)"
Words of Wisdom: Always use a smiley face when telling people they suck.
Probably the most important skill is reaction time. The best healers have the best reflexes, and that can be a tricky skill to perfect. That frost blast on KT is a perfect example. I cannot predict who is going to get blasted. Waiting for someone to call out that they are blasted is waiting too long - vent has lag. The best indicator for me is when anyone takes a sudden drop in health. This is probably why I don't really know what the KT fight looks like. I'm too busy glaring at health bars. Even though I love Circle of Healing, and use it gratuitously, I take care with it during KT to make sure that I don't have to wait for the cooldown when someone gets hit with Frost Blast. Circle of Healing, talented Renew, and they are usually okay, as other heals from other healers are starting to hit.
I know I'm a decent healer. But seriously, what makes a healer truly great? Now that I've started to ask myself this question, I'm going to begin paying more attention. When you have a raid on farm, and it's mostly cake for everyone, that's not the time to be able to judge how good a healer is - that's when you can judge if a healer is really crappy.
At this point, all I really know? At least I'm not crappy! :) :)