Beata of the Firmament

Tifka Stormmoon

Siren (Aether)

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Mentor Diaries: Avoiding use of negative language

Welcome, dear reader, to the first of what I believe may become a series of thoughts that have been rolling around inside my rapidly graying head. This is born of a desire to not have others repeat the same mistakes I have. I will not fool myself into thinking that this is going to change the world – but if I can get at least one person to stop and think about the things they are reacting to I’ll consider this a worthwhile venture.

To start off, yes, I am a mentor. One could reasonably argue that does not mean anything. I guess you could say there is a kernel of truth to this, but I like to think I am trying to take the position somewhat seriously. Afterall, teaching others is something I get a lot of satisfaction from. Indeed, a large part of my position in IT support is simply teaching.

Now let me ask you something, what is the most important thing when it comes to teaching others? Most of you will say “having the right information” and that would be partially correct.

But what I would like to speak about is how you deliver that information. And this is something a certain subset of player does not seem to understand. I am not a psychologist, so it is not my place to even theorize as to why.

If I linked you this article, then you are likely one of those people. If you followed said link and got this far, then good on you and I hope you will take what I am about to say to heart.

Information can be 100 percent correct and on-the-nose: but few will even consider taking it seriously if you come off as a complete and total elitist asshole.

And yes, that means saying “if you don’t dps as a healer, you’re bad and griefing the group”. (understand this is just an example and NOT what this post is about)

Stop right there; I can hear your keyboard’s agitated clacking in response already. If you cannot withhold your righteous indignation for 15 minutes, you are just as guilty as those you would mark as “unteachable bads”.

Let’s dissect that statement.

“You’re bad” – first mistake. You never NEVER call a sprout bad at something. Negative reinforcement does not work nearly as well as positive reinforcement. This has been proven time and time again.

“griefing the group” hyperbolic nonsense. Griefing is a malicious willful act for the soul purpose of getting a rise out of somebody. Doing their job in what they perceive is the right way without malice is NOT griefing. Calling somebody with no malicious intent a griefer is insulting and puts the person on the defensive.

The right way to correct this sprout would have been “Yes, a healer should heal. And frankly, we need more healers in this game so thanks for that. But if there is nobody to heal and they find themselves doing nothing, they should step up and assist with DPS”

The information is expressed and given to the Sprout in a way that doesn’t talk down to them, acknowledges their use of a class we frankly need more people playing so they feel appreciated in their choice, but gets the point across that there is more they can do to help.

I know it is hard to believe, but not everybody can receive cold-logic or hard-hitting truth without getting angered or putting them on the defensive. When you use hyperbolic or condescending language such as “Bad” or “garbage” to describe a type of gameplay, you are shutting people down.

- Those easily angered will lash back and most will stop listening to you.
- Those who are shy and socially awkward will shut down and stop listening to you
- Those who agree with your points but have a shred of decency and tact will turn against you.
- Those who are vengeful will file reports against you for “compelling a play style”.

I can hear some of you saying already, “I have no malicious intent! It’s not my fault if they take it badly!”

My response?

Your purpose is to teach, but your audience mistook your intent. You are going to need to accept that as inevitability and adjust accordingly INSTEAD OF DOUBLING DOWN AND GETTING DEFENSIVE YOURSELF. Be the bigger person and apologize, step back, rephrase yourself.

If you double down instead of being the bigger person, this is the end result: a good portion of your audience is on the defensive and will not hear your words. At that point, the denizens of the Novice Network revert into tribalism and nothing productive gets done. This forces me to do something I’d rather not do but have accepted as part of my responsibility as a mentor: giving you a three-hour time out via the kick command. I will then spend 15 minutes letting everybody vent their relief about how you are now gone. At which point, we can start being productive again. Something we could not do because you didn’t stop and wonder if you should work on your delivery because you got a response of “stop being elitist” or “I’m just here to have fun”.

Let me put it in a way I hope you will understand.

You expect people to do everything they can to play well right? You want people to hit those rotations and play their class properly, right?

Then why are you playing the mentor class like such “hot garbage” by using language that divides and turns people off from receiving your “wisdom”?

Yes, I just called Mentor a “class” or “job”. Guess what, you played it like a bad just now. You just played it like a complete “shitter”.

Note my use of language just now. That was done 100 percent on purpose. My reasoning: if you are the type of person to use that language and I posted this to you, I am considering my target audience and adjusting accordingly. If you are the type to use that language and are now pissed at me, you shouldn’t talking like that anyway (people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones) If you are not the type to use that language, and are now offended at my “hypocrisy”, please consider the context.

Don’t get me wrong, I get it. These hateful words often stem from a place of frustration at seeing others play badly. FFXIV isn’t my first rodeo. I’ve been playing team and co-op games for TWO DECADES now and have seen it all. I used to be that spiteful and hateful guy myself. I used to be that guy who would “correct the bads because somebody needs to make them realize how bad they are”. I mean, I’m 100 percent in the right, why should I stay quiet? It’s the only way the playerbase will “get good”

I hate to disappoint you, sunshine, but it never gets better. I’ve been waiting 2 decades for the players in games to “get good”. But then I got wise and realized that randoms are going to always random. Not everybody plays for the same reasons you or I play for. Our motivations are all different. And getting frustrated over it and letting that frustration leak out into your teaching does very little to make people in the game “better” because those type of people will ALWAYS EXIST FOREVER. So spewing the proverbial "fire and brimstone of how to get good" isn't going to change that. It just makes you look like an asshat.

I’m not saying give up on teaching others – there are those who desire to be taught and they can’t learn it from a MTQ video or a written guide; there are people that just need their hand gently held sometimes. THAT'S, what the Novice Channel is for - an avenue for those who wish to learn to do so. And if you’re not willing to do that without being patient and adjusting your attitude to be receptive to the listener, you have no business here.

Yes it will be frustrating sometimes

Yes sometimes the questions will make you pull your hair out

Sometimes you have to drop what you are doing and walk the sprout through every single step.

Sometimes you'll embarrass yourself and get corrected by another, welcome to being human.

But most of all


If you can’t do that, expect to be put on another timeout by yours truly.

Good luck out there.

Comments (3)

Annabel Ashcroft

Faerie (Aether)

Interesting blog Tifka and you're right; berating people for making mistakes does no good for anyone.

When I teach EX fights I have the patience of a saint, for I know how hard it can be to learn them and I give a LOT of slack for the mistakes people make and hope they will listen to my suggestions and advice to improve.

Sometimes it works and they get better, sometimes it's just a lost cause, but I never berate them for not 'getting' it, no matter how much I groan inside. ;-)

Gruene Countdemonet

Faerie (Aether)

Interesting thought. This is my first time in the FFXIV fora, and I was directed here because, well... I google searches FFXIV a**hats. Seriously.

Not everyone is at the same level of experience in the game, and some of those lesser experienced people folks seem to assume MUST have LOTS of experience of have memorized this map because they are a certain role. And then proceed to berate taht player. Not a good way to build or keep community.

Darius Heartling

Behemoth (Primal)

Oh shit, I guess I had to vent out.
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