A recent post over at Ecclesiastical Discipline got me thinking again about how people react to ‘advice’. I had noticed a few things about it and thought I would share.
How to give ‘helpful advice’ in a way that gets optimum results
Everyone has probably heard the words ‘don’t tell me how to play my class’. If not that then you are sure to have heard some of the many of the other ‘witty’ things people say in response to being told of their failings. Even if you don’t regularly dispense advice you probably saw someone else do it and get rebuffed (not in the good way).
But first off…
Why give advice at all?
Because people really really need it. No you are not being helpful or polite by not saying anything. There MANY aspects to the game that are not instantly obvious. It was originally designed by gamers and fore gamers. Yeah it was easy to get into but certain concepts it was just assumed that you knew or would figure out. You might not believe how many times I have run into hunters with growling pets who did not KNOW how to turn it off. They thought pulling it off the pet bar was turning it off. I have had to explain the little glowing border and how to right click the icon to more than one level 80 hunter. This was something that was obvious to me and I figured out by messing with things somewhere around level 10 or 11 on my first hunter many years ago. It was obvious…. To me. But to huge numbers of people WOW is their first serious computer game. They just don’t know this stuff. Maybe they are 12, maybe they are dumb as a post or maybe they simply have found a play style that works and have not messed around with ever possible button.
It is only going to get worse. The increased need for CC in Cata is going to be ‘interesting’. I have a feeling huge numbers of players out there don’t know what CC skills their character even has to say nothing of being able to use them right.
But if they will not listen anyway? Why do it?
Because so of them WILL listen. And some of those that don’t will remember. I still remember the firs warrior tank that told me to stop tanking with my hunter pet. Did I listen? Hell no! What does a warrior know about huntering? Nothing! But I remembered it. And much later when I rolled a tank the depths of my transgressions were laid out before me by the unfolding of my memory. I wept. Well not really but I did regret being a jerk. Slightly.
I also still remember when a guild officer told me if I could not hold agro 100% of the time no matter what I should just delete. I had a snarky comeback and went away grumbling about his elitist attitude and abrasive personality. And then a bit later I got over it and started challenging myself to do just what he said. Now I try to make zero excuses and push myself harder than ever to hold agro at all times and in all places.
My point is even when you get a hostile reaction you never know what the long term effect might be. Don’t be afraid of adversity. The other person can use your help. Those hundreds of other poor puggers that are going to run with the moron later need your help too.
They have to hear it some day
It is important that people hear a complaint even if they don’t respond well. More than a few times I have gotten the response of ‘NO other tank ever told me to stop doing that BEFORE’. They say it as if that is ironclad disproof of my complaint. It isn’t of course, but if any other tank had bothered to ask them to stop death gripping, or frostnova-ing, or cyclone, or using typhoon, etc, then I might have had an easier time getting them to stop. Since everyone else was being ‘polite’ the player assumed that it was ok behavior.
That is how we find our limits. By pushing them until we get in trouble. If every healer just shut up and chugged potions then how was the tank to know he was setting a pace that was too fast? This is why we have to actually SAY something.
Giving advice for maximum effect
Prove you know something first
If I am tanking and see someone messing up on the first pull it is hard not to say something. Buuut, If I say something right away I am pretty likely to get a bad response. I know I know way more than them but THEY don’t… yet. If I wait until half way though the run, after I have done some crazy hard stuff and saved the day a time or two then they are much more likely to take a suggestion politely. They know for certain that I can do my job so they are more likely to believe I might also know theirs. They also know that I am not just whining to excuse bad tanking.
If I complain about people pulling off me at the start of a run there is a good chance (in their minds) that I can’t hold agro in a bucket. It is better if I wait and show by my actions that I CAN hold agro and I can even taunt stuff off of them repeatedly. Now they KNOW I am not just whining to cover my failings and they are more likely to tone things down. Even if I worded the ‘advice’ the same way both times, the timing of it and the situation can really change how people take it.
I have had this happen. Where I gave some advice early, got a very hostile reaction, including swearing. Then later in the run, after demonstrating a little of some ‘uber’ to the newish 80 they got aaaallll polite and friendly and even thanked me for advice.
Keep it short
If you halt in the middle of a run to give a dissertation on the meaning of frostnova in dynamic tactical environment chances are you are going to be dismissed as a crank. Keep advice compact.
No personal attacks. Telling someone their rotation is suboptimal is not the same as calling them a noob. Yeah, people might blow up at even the most polite advice, but almost no one will responds to insults. Sometimes they do but most people will retaliate instead. It is a reflex action and it inhibits the listening.
Don’t let it hold up the run
Don’t stop the whole thing to give a dissertation. Unless the offense is really grievous then you should keep things going.
Don’t get clever, obtuse or overly sarcastic. If the player was subtle and witty they might already have figured the problem out already. If you make your comment to obscure or tangential then you are likely to get a blank stare response.
Focus the advice on what they should DO
Include some of the ‘why’ if you have to, or if they ask. It important to get straight to the point. If you throw out a comment on the nature of ‘threat’ that is not the same is simply telling them ‘only use taunts after something pulls off you’. If you have to back something up to make it clear then do it but don’t start off when a lot of obscure ‘why’ before you get to the point of the ‘what’.
Back up your points with tools as needed
Recount is good when used right. One thing I sometimes do is toss out the recount, point out that someone should be able to get 1000 more dps and then mention checking google for some good blogs or going to ‘elististjerks’. Short, right to the point, backed up by data, and including a path to fix things. No big debate on rotations or a lot of QQ. Something like that is more likely to get a favorable response than just telling them how much they are a noob and should drop.
Don’t argue with idiots
They say don’t argue with idiots or they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience (at being an idiot). Don’t get drawn in. Try to avoid the burning need to have the last word. Get right back to the game and let your actions show you know your stuff.
Channel the Stupidity
You could spend half the run arguing with the DK about his compulsive grip habit… or you could just ask him to use it on the casters in the back. Some people are going to insist on being dumb. Think like Judo. You use the weight of your opponent against them by redirecting it. You don’t try to absorb a punch or a kick, you harness it and redirect its energy. Is the hunter someone who apparently has nothing in the spell book except ‘volley?’ Pull slightly larger groups and make use of that aoe. Mage can’t figure out how sheep is suppose to work? Don’t set your pulls up to need it. Side step the stupidity and either let it harmlessly pass by, or grab it and direct it at something useful.
This is the difference between banging your head on a wall and looking for the door. Sometimes you can’t knock down the wall so find another way. If you KNOW that moron hunter is not going to stop pulling then use it as taunt timing practice. If the Boomkin has a typhoon fetish, ask if he can use it only when things are at 20% or less. Some people are far more likely to accept advice like that than they are to listen to a rant on while their favorite toy is stupid and evil.
There are probably many other tips out there for dealing with pugs while trying to be constructive. These are just the few I could think of.