One of my fellow officers and I have come to terms with the fact that sometimes we're just gonna have to agree to disagree. I must say, it's a wonderful thing to know you can disagree with someone on very fundamental issues, and still maintain a good friendship.
I think a lot of our differences are based on one simple debate about how to manage problems in our alliance: Fulguralis advocates a top-down approach, while I look at it from the bottom-up. I won't try to speak for him here or explain his ideas about what a top-down approach entails - he's got his own blog, and perhaps I just gave him an inspirational prompt for today. That's not a challenge or anything *cough*.
Our alliance leader pointed out to me today that there's a reason he made us both officers; We balance each other out. Our guilds are exact opposites. Our votes on issues practically cancel one another out. When Ful and I do actually agree on something (aside from our love for our comrades), he jokes about calling hell to see if they've seen any snow yet.
Our guilds ARE complete contrasts. His guild is quite large, but there isn't a strong interest and/or availability for raiding. From what I understand, his guild is made up of a great variety of different types of people, with different personalities, gaming interests, mentalities, etc. You can go read for yourself; He described his guild just yesterday.
But oh boy. That is not my guild.
There's only 5 of us. Thank God. If our personalities were tripled and unleashed upon poor Lothar, it would make the evening news. We have known each other for a very long time, and three of the five of us went to high school together. We could never really join another guild - we would get kicked out. Our guild conversations would make Doug Stanhope blush (My fiance assures me he is a very offensive man). Trust me when I tell you - you don't want to deal with a pissed off Beardy. And you certainly don't want a whole Bunch of pissed off Beardies. And basically? If you piss off one, you will shortly find yourself having pissed off four more.
The thing is, you might never know it about some of us. Some are actually very quiet to outsiders. You can call it cliqueish if you like, but it's just how we are - it's a comfort zone thing. I met these awesome people by falling in love with one. It was years before the rest of them ever warmed up to me - and I made a lot of gumbo and provided a lot of alcohol to try and loosen those stubborn bitches up. They aren't going to tell you if they don't like what you are doing, or how you are doing it - they will just stop coming around. It's probably better for you, really. See above comment about pissed off Beardies.
When I became an officer in my Alliance, my primary concern was to try and advocate for my Beardies. I hoped that as the most recent addition to this clique of friends, perhaps I could explain and translate our foreign ways. If nothing else, maybe I could hold my tongue better and be a tad more diplomatic (I'm not sure if that actually proved to be the case). If decisions were made that the Beardies didn't like, that they disagreed with, it is unlikely they would say anything - they would just stop raiding altogether. Or leave a giant "screw you" message on the forum, and then stop coming. We are not a loose or diverse conglomeration of casuals who became closer friends through WoW. We are a group of friends who took our hard-core-and-slightly-obsessive-about-everything gaming mentality into WoW and created a guild because let's face it - we don't want to have to censor ourselves. We are five people, tightly bound, who work as a single force. We have similar personalities and interests. We live near one another. In general, from the outside, we look like one solid block of pewpew.
5 people may not seem like a lot, but we're a very well rounded group. A tank, an offtank/dps, a caster, a hunter, and a healer. All dual specced to fill other roles as needed. And that's not including our level 80 alts. Throw us all together, and we're like a well-oiled machine. In addition, we have a tendency to stick together, because we like running together - we feel most comfortable that way. It's not a good idea to split us up - but, the flip side of that is that if you ask for one of us, you will likely have 4 other strong willing players for a raid. We will join one another simply to spend game time with one another.
So my intent was to make sure that the Beardy Bunch never left en masse. It would be a big hit to the alliance. And we are a stubborn group - you will have a hard time convincing us to change our minds.
Therefore, when it seems like things might start falling apart with the alliance, I choose to step back and regroup with my guild. This isn't to get away from the alliance - it's to reassure my fellow guildmates that we're in this together - we're a team, and we're gonna stick it out with the alliance. If one of us starts to think that it's time to back out of the alliance, all five will end up going. I care about my guild, and I care about my alliance - and my alliance has allowed my guild to see content we would never have seen otherwise. So when any of us start to have doubts about the alliance we all agreed to join, it's time for us to get back together and remember why we loved raiding in the first place. Positive reinforcement. I refuse to lose either group of much loved friends.
This is my bottom up approach. When the big group starts to tremble, I'm going to reach out to Alliance members I know well, and try to regroup them on a smaller scale, so we can all walk back into the Alliance stronger than ever, rejuvenated and reinspired. If you start to lose sight of the bigger picture, put it in a smaller frame, and it starts to make sense again.
But I don't keep secrets from my guildmates. And if one wants to piss off a Beardy, all one has to do is tell them they can't do something. Go ahead and try it - tell them they aren't allowed. You can even try telling them they have to do something. You'll get the same response, folks. As Gordin, one of my guildmates, explained this evening, it's an ice cream man situation.
"It doesn't matter how much one of us is craving ice cream. If someone comes up to us and says 'You HAVE to eat this ice cream.' we're gonna tell him to piss off and we'll buy the shit sandwich instead. Don't you dare try to tell ME what to do."
If you want to see the Beardies walk away together, flipping you the bird as they depart, all you have to do is imply that they can't do something. Tell them, in so many words, that they are not allowed to do it. I'm sure it would be a fun social experiment - give it a whirl. And don't think I separate myself from them in that regard. Tell me I can't do something, and I immediately get indignant - on behalf of myself AND on behalf of my guild. I don't say all this about my guild as though it were an embarassment. I'm proud of how stubborn and independent we are, and that we still manage to maintain such outward cohesiveness.
As I try to toe the line between my alliance and my guild, I spend a lot of time grimacing and bashing my head against my keyboard. I am not always forthright with my intentions when I attempt to organize things. If I were to tell a Beardy "I want you to come on this PuG with me, because I want you to get emblems so that you will gear up better", I will find myself Beardless in my pug. "Don't YOU tell me what to do." If I try and tell Gordin that if he needs gold, he should really try the Sons of Hodir dailies because they are quick and lucrative, even though my real intention is that I want him to get the shoulder enchants, he *just might* go for it. I'm not lying. I'm just telling the part of the truth that will encourage him. I'll have to try something different next time though, since he'll likely read this and be suspicious of my shenanigans.
If I were to tell my alliance that I suspect my guildmates are becoming disenfranchised, and I foresee a Beardy departure, which will be a huge blow to the alliance, I worry they will try to do something about it. Please understand - I know they have the best of intentions. But they *really* don't know what they're dealing with here. The words from an outsider will likely fall on deaf ears - trust me. I was an outsider once too. At best, we will scoff and ignore. Probably even come up with new nicknames that will be shared in guild chat for months, and won't be kind. Just ask Gordin what he used to tell the others about my feet when I first started dating my fiance. At worst, they will take great offense to being told what they can/cannot/should/really ought to do, and the stubborn reaction will likely provide the exact opposite response of what was pursued. Their names simply won't appear on the raid signups anymore.
Therefore, I take great offense to anyone in my alliance being suspicious or fearing any malicious intent in anything I try to organize for the benefit of my guild. If it looks like I'm doing something to separate my guild from my alliance, then stop right there and think again. I won't ever advocate one at the expense of the other. I had thought everyone knew this about me, but times are tough I guess. If you aren't part of our guild, then please just try to trust my judgment. My guildmates have a right to question me - I am accountable only to those who have graciously allowed me the honor of representing them.
By questioning or doubting my intentions when I try to find ways to resolidify our guild in any public way, it is very easy to undo all my efforts at guild-alliance diplomacy.
Because despite our inner squabbles and the control-freak idiot I can oftentimes be, somehow my fellow Beardies still manage to support me when it matters, with righteous indignation and stubborness as their shield. I can only hope that somewhere along the way it became apparent that I do not try to make decisions for them, or in some ill-fated attempt to gain control over my guild mates (as if that were possible). It doesn't matter how it was said, or how justified the feelings may be - if it can in any way be interpreted as telling me that I am not allowed to do something, if there is even the slightest suggestion that the Beardies cannot do what they want, you may just have thrown away their participation. You know, that thing I was specifically trying to avoid.
*Sigh.* From the beginning again then. I guess I'll have to be more creative this time.