Raiding 101: Conflict Management Part 2

In our Raiding 101 series, we discuss tips and tricks for various aspects of running a guild, which can range from guild leadership duties, to raid leading, to growing as a player. Today, we’ll talk in more detail about managing disagreements within your community, including the tactics you should use before a conflict requires resolution, the process of conflict resolution itself, and important steps to consider once you have reached an agreement. If you missed the first article in this two-part miniseries on conflict management, or you need a refresher on the basics, you can find it here!

The principles of conflict resolution serve as important reminders about how to approach conflict in your guild. Use those principles to help guide your mindset whenever you need to help resolve a disagreement. Whether you act as a mediator between two members who are arguing, or you’re involved in a conflict yourself, learning how to handle the situation calmly will show your community that you are a trustworthy leader who is able to negotiate and handle conflict without allowing it to overcome you.

Table of Contents

Before Conflict Resolution

While we’ve acknowledged that conflict is a natural part of sharing a space with other people, of course as leaders, we’re interested in avoiding disagreements if at all possible. Consider implementing a few basic ideas within your community in order to reduce the need for further conflict management and to catch issues before they escalate.


Every guild looking to cultivate a healthy community should plan to develop an environment of open communication and leadership interest. Guild members should feel like they have at least one member of leadership who is interested in listening to concerns or complaints; no guild leader should look to build a leadership team that is incapable of being empathetic listeners. In my guild, I tend to be the person who serves as the “HR department” the most, but all our guildies have their “comfort officers”. As difficult as it may be to listen to constructive criticism about your guild, developing that culture of constructive feedback is key for creating a community that knows its leaders can address their issues before they become too frustrating or lead to a fight.

Your guild does not need to have any formal feedback process in place; develop a system that works best for your leadership team and your community. Some guilds simply encourage members to reach out to leadership at any time, while others add end-of-tier surveys, suggestion box channels or ticketing systems in their Discords, or anonymous suggestion forms. However, be aware that if you choose a route that allows members to remain anonymous, you may get complaints that really need some follow-up with the complainant. Stress to your members that, for serious or very personal complaints, names are required so that you can reach out to check in or provide an update.

It’s absolutely crucial that all members of the leadership team know how to accept respectful and constructive criticism. If you truly want to develop an open-door policy, assume positive intent from your members! Every guild has certainly had its share of bad actors, but always start from a place of good faith first. Remember not to fall victim to reactive or emotional knee-jerk reactions when you are receiving constructive feedback. As long as the feedback is respectful and given with good intentions, you must find a way to receive it graciously. Do not ever punish good-hearted community members for making use of your open door policy!


Your community should feel confident in the knowledge that the leadership team will step up and speak out against unacceptable behavior in order to ensure that the environment remains comfortable and safe. Never develop an officer core who will not stand up for your guild’s values, or even worse, recruit an officer who will outright disrespect those values. When you have officers who enforce the guild’s values, you may find that your guild members will follow suit, speaking up against language that isn’t suitable for the guild environment.

No matter how strict your recruiting guidelines may be, you will have some bad actors slip through the cracks regardless. Try not to wallow in guilt when this happens (I know from personal experience how difficult that may be!). Act quickly to shut down any inappropriate behavior. However, if you have a newcomer or even a longtime member who slips up and falls into an old habit with their language, for example, try to respond quickly and sternly, but from a place of compassion and grace. Unfortunately, most of us have spent the majority of our gaming years in pretty unsavory environments. For some people, shedding this behavior comes easily, but others may struggle to correct their bad habits. Allow for mistakes, but be quick to correct them and explain why you did so. Personal growth is always welcome and encouraged, so be the champion of that idea in your community. Don’t punish anyone for learning and growing as they are exposed to an environment of respect and inclusion.


Learn to recognize what the early stirrings of conflict or unhappiness look like within your community. You may notice the following signs when someone, or several people, are unhappy or frustrated with another member of the community:

  • Temper flares easily in group content
  • Sudden and increased raid absences for no discernible reason
  • Avoidance behaviors, like pulling away from social settings or being quiet in Discord when they weren’t before
  • Sudden difficulty finding common ground in casual conversation
  • Increasingly argumentative over seemingly small issues
  • Sudden poor raid performance or an obvious unwillingness to apply themselves

Of course you know your members best, so keep an eye out for unusual behaviors among your community. When you begin to notice these signs, remain vigilant and prepare to intervene before the situation escalates and the tension overtakes your team’s morale in guild activities.

When should you take action? This can be a difficult metric to follow until you’ve become comfortable with the way conflicts affect your team specifically, but here are a few telltale signs:

  • When friendly banter becomes bullying or ganging up on one person excessively
  • When language becomes explicit, threatening, or otherwise aggressive
  • When you receive specific allegations of harassment or discrimination
  • When the conflict disrupts your entire team’s productivity or morale
  • When teasing moves from funny and lighthearted to insulting

If you notice any obvious signs of tension between members of your community, act quickly to prevent an outright fight or a hit to team morale. While some members may seek to resolve any disagreements themselves, not all will take that next step, so be prepared to step in and help guide them through their conflict to a workable endpoint.

The Conflict Resolution Process

Knowing how to walk your community members through the steps of conflict resolution is an incredibly valuable skill and certainly can be applicable to situations both in game and IRL. Anyone in a leadership position should know how to serve as a mediator through the conflict resolution process, and how to walk themselves through the process too if they happen to fall into a disagreement. Please note that the actual steps of resolving a conflict are highly variable depending on the particular situation, but the below points will hopefully serve as the building blocks from which you can design a solution that works for all participants.


Whether you are the mediator for others, or you are working through a conflict with another guildie yourself, you must be objective. Approach the situation with empathy and an open mind. As I have mentioned before in this article, you should operate from a place of positive intent by assuming that everyone involved has good intentions but are struggling to agree on the details or find common ground.

When you restate concerns or help participants explain their side, be very careful to do so objectively. Do not cast judgment on any one perspective, because doing so will only make you appear biased or judgmental at a time when you really need to present yourself as the unbiased, level-headed mediator amidst heightened emotions. If community members feel that you (specifically, or as a leadership team) play favorites, they will be far less likely to come to you with concerns, and may simply leave the guild rather than try to go up against someone perceived as an officer favorite.

If you are unable to be objective because of the nature of the conflict or the players involved, please ask another member of your leadership team to step in. There is absolutely no shame in stepping away from a conflict, or from allowing yourself to be mediated by another officer. In times of strife, it’s far more valuable to demonstrate to your team that you know when to step back or call in help than it is to power through a potentially delicate situation.


Aim to listen to all sides of any conflict. Ensure that everyone involved has agreed to listen respectfully and take turns talking; this seems like an easy ask, but it can be difficult when emotions are running high! Interjections from the other person are not appropriate when one participant is talking. If someone involved is struggling to wait their turn, encourage them to take notes or jot down ideas that they’d like to share, but remember that this is not meant to be a point-by-point deconstruction of the other person’s argument. This is simply the time for each side to share their feelings and frustrations.

This step is all about being an active listener for both sides of the argument (or for your opponent, if you are the one involved in a disagreement). Listen carefully and ask questions to clarify any confusion. Demonstrate that you understand what the other participant is saying by restating their frustrations or concerns before you allow the other to speak (or before you share your own). Remember to restate concerns in an objective and unbiased way!


As mentioned above, ensure you are restating the concerns with objectivity and empathy. Be respectful and don’t downplay either side’s frustrations. When you reach the root of the issue, focus on the BEHAVIOR, not the PERSON. Refrain from casting judgment on either party. Don’t ever equate someone’s behavior with who they are as a person. “It seems like you’ve been responding really sharply lately,” carries a much different sentiment than, “you’re a real jerk lately.” The first statement emphasizes the problematic behavior, while the second is a wholesale rejection of the person’s character.

When you’ve found the real problem at the center of the conflict, be sure you’re approaching this, too, with objectivity! Restate it clearly for both sides and avoid casting any judgment at all. This is a time to identify the issue and find a common ground or common goal that will help all parties resolve this root cause.


As a member of leadership involved in conflict resolution discussions, it’s your job to reach the difficult conclusions or decisions. Ensure that any conclusion you help the parties reach is in line with your guild’s values, and be sure you’re applying precedent and/or guild policy if applicable. Do not approach similar situations with different solutions, at the risk of appearing biased or inconsistent. As you begin to reach a conclusion, ensure that you are remaining open minded and hearing out any concerns that may arise from any involved parties. Ultimately, you need to take the lead in the steps towards resolution and be sure you’re communicating decisions to all applicable parties yourself. Allow yourself to be the voice that summarizes the conclusions for all parties involved.


This rule is applicable for basically any decision you make as a leader (or a leadership team), and is especially true when you are dealing with your community member – particularly when their emotions may be invested in the situation. Do not rush through the conflict resolution steps simply to be done with the entire thing. Make intelligent, empathetic choices and reach a resolution that truly works for all parties involved AND for your guild as a whole.

A conflict resolution process does not need to eat up weeks of your time, but you do need to permit both parties to state their perspectives and allow them to think over the proposed resolution(s). Please don’t ever make your community members feel as if their concerns are a bother to you. Some disagreements are easily resolvable without a complex mediation process, but it’s important that you’re still hearing those out and offering support regardless. Your community’s cohesion depends a great deal on the leadership team’s ability to address issues thoughtfully and thoroughly.

After a Conflict Has Settled

When the conflict is resolved and the dust has settled, ensure that you’re doing a few things to maintain that peace!


Even if you don’t document your steps throughout the conflict resolution process, ensure you’re documenting the participants, their concerns, and the ultimate resolution to the situation. If you’ve implemented any guild policies as a result of this, document that change too, and update any relevant guild materials as soon as possible to reflect this change.

If a member ever wants to revisit a previous concern or requests a summary of the events as they’ve transpired, you should be able to provide this without too much difficulty. Additionally, you may have one problem player who continues to come up as a source of conflict; don’t ever rely on a loose idea of how many times they’ve been an issue. If you end up needing to remove someone who is a consistent issue, it’s always better to protect yourself with fact-based evidence. Presenting someone with a definite number, such as, “you’ve been involved in seven different disagreements,” not only protects your leadership team, but also relays much more strongly to the member just how often they’re involving themselves in disagreements. Don’t rely solely upon your memory to replay arguments and their resolutions. Leadership teams have so much information to keep track of even at the best of times, so be responsible in keeping yourself organized and documenting any serious guild disagreements and decisions.


When you’ve reached a resolution, be sure that you summarize it with all involved parties and clarify that everyone feels content with where the discussion has ended. Then, plan to check back in with everyone in a week or two. Restate their beginning concerns and the ultimate solution, and ask if they have any other thoughts, concerns, or questions.

If it’s clear that one complainant is really struggling either with a certain member of the team or with some personal difficulties that may make getting along a bit more complex for them, be sure you’re checking in with this person more frequently. You may catch another issue brewing during these regular check-ins, or you may be able to provide some much-needed support and friendship to someone sorely in need.

A Note on The Art of the Apology

Whether you are involved in a disagreement or you are acting as the mediator, emphasize apologizing for wrongs done to others. A real, heartfelt apology makes all the difference in many situations and is something you should always be modeling for your guild. Normalize accountability within your leadership team, and you will model that behavior all the way down the ladder. Apologies do not make us look weak. But rather than worry about the appearance of weakness, leaders should focus more on how to live and lead according to the values we’ve emphasized for our communities.

No matter the title or position, when a team member has done something that disrespects other people and/or makes them feel unsafe, they should apologize. Your apology may feel awkward and humbling, but step up and do it anyway. Give a wholehearted, true apology. “I’m sorry but…” is not acceptable. Do not make the apology about you or your feelings, don’t pat yourself on the back or expect congratulations from your team. Do not expect that your raiders owe you anything in return. Owning mistakes feels terrible, and nobody loves doing it, but by apologizing, you’re creating a culture of accountability and allowing others to apologize for their share of a situation as well. Fumbling is human, but it’s how we handle our failings that makes the difference.

Key Takeaways

Establish your community in a way that allows for minimal conflict from the outset: offer a space for all members to provide feedback or report concerns, act quickly on any behavior that is cause for alarm or breaks community guidelines, and keep a close eye on the signs of a developing disagreement in order to step in if things become problematic. Once you are involved in a conflict, help all parties work towards an agreeable resolution by approaching the situation with objectivity, and give yourself the time to handle the situation thoroughly instead of rushing through. Allow all sides the opportunity to speak up and say their part with no interruptions, and then work together to identify the true root of the disagreement. Do your part as a leader to ensure that all parties understand and agree with any solution you reach together, and check back in later to head off any further worries or concerns. Be sure you encourage all parties to apologize, and model taking responsibility by issuing apologies to your community when necessary. A strong leader is one who recognizes when it’s time to apologize, and does so with sincerity.

In understanding the nuances involved in conflict resolution, you will be more effective as a leader as well as a community member. Demonstrate healthy conflict management skills and your community members will likely pick up on those skills for themselves; over time, you’ll find that many of your guildies are able to resolve their smaller disagreements among themselves without your oversight. This is one of the dreams of most guild leaders: help your members learn how to maintain the community you’ve built for them.


About the Author

Gogogadgetkat has been playing WoW since late BC, and has been the GM of her guild Propaganda since its creation in 2014. As a career healer, Kat has a number of CEs and old-school heroic kills under her belt, all on a variety of healing classes and specs—she’s a serial altoholic! In addition to Mythic raiding and a little Mythic+, creating safe, inclusive spaces in gaming is her longtime passion; Kat has been an admin for the Perky Pugs community since late BfA, and is also a founding council member and the community manager for the DEIBAJ initiative Liquid Women in Warcraft. She is excited to bring her wealth of experience and love of writing to the Raider.IO team.