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5 Easy Steps to Tame the Blame Game

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Does your team’s communication devolve into a blame game?  You know, when your players point the finger at each other for misplays or losses, rather than using constructive team talk to help win?  If they answer is yes, I’m sure you are aware that this can send your team’s morale into a downward spiral very quickly.

But you’re in luck, because…

It takes just 5 easy steps to tame the blame game!

Whether in a pro-league or in ranked queue, it can be extremely frustrating to watch a teammate make mistakes that cost advantages or the game entirely.  Sometimes, feeling helpless and frustrated, a player might lash out on his fellow teammates as a result.  Unfortunately, this response only serves to tilt the team, and draws attention away from avenues of improvement and on to player toxicity instead.

So, as a coach or a captain, how do you get your players to put their salt aside and work together to improve their teamwork and play?

In the latest eSport Coaching Network (ECN) conference, Counter Logic Gaming’s head coach Chris Ehrenreich broke down how he resolves conflicts between players.  As the new guy on the block, he had to face off against some big names in eSports and even bigger personalities.  But he knew just how to use those larger than life personas to improve CLG’s ability to effectively critique and communicate with each other.

This series gives you everything you need to know about working with the personalities on your team, and how to reduce conflict in team talk.

Making strong personalities strengthen your team communication

Making strong personalities

Whether you are an owner, manager, coach or player you have to hold yourself accountable for clear and productive communication with your team.  Since everyone has particular ways they like to both express and receive information, being aware of the communication preferences in your group will greatly improve the effectiveness with which you can convey your issues and ideas.

There are 4 personas with associated communication styles that your team members will embody:  The Shot-Caller, the Analyst, the Commentator, and the Support.  Ideally, an effective communicator has a nice balance of all 4 communication styles, but everyone has a dominant communication style that they prefer to use and will default to under pressure.

To get your team to stop blaming each other and to start communicating, use the following 5 steps to boost team communication:

  1. Identify your own communication persona
  2. Identify your team members’ communication personas
  3. Find out where these communication styles conflict
  4. Facilitate effective communication between these conflicting personas
  5. Tailor your management style to the personalities on your team

Why worry about personas when you can just mediate the fighting directly?

Why worry about personas

Generally, we get a sense of control when we can communicate with our teammates about our wants and needs both in and out of game.  That way we can operate with some confidence in those wants and needs being met.  However, when that line of communication is blocked, we no longer feel like we have a say in our own success.  This can be a very frustrating experience, and can lead to some hostility if it is not resolved.

The natural inclination as a leader is to try to directly resolve the conflict by talking it out with the players involved.  You may have tried to play devil’s advocate with a player placing blame to get them to see alternative explanations for why their teammates fail to meet their expectations.

You also may have tried to encourage the teammate receiving criticism to take it as an opportunity to learn and improve, rather than an insult.  But both of these approaches put a patch on things rather than resolve the core issues.

When players are in game, they will not have someone there to resolve their conflicts before they can continue working together to win a match.  Therefore, you must address the core of the problem and prevent blame from occurring in the first place.

To do this, you must improve the lines of communication between the players.  This way, players will consistently be able to convey what they need from their teammates without the need for intervention, giving them more autonomy and a better sense of control.

So now that you understand why improving overall team communication is important to taming the blame, let’s breakdown how to do it.

Step 1:  Identify your own communication persona

You are not going to be able to get your team to communicate better if you don’t know how you come off to others, and how you can best receive information from your team.  So identifying your own communication persona is crucial.

The most effective way to communicate is to figure out how others want to be spoken to and to speak to them that way.  On average, about 33% of communication is understood accurately.  This is because most people tend to really hear only information presented to them in their own style.

If you deliver information in a way that someone isn’t comfortable with or used to, your message will be lost or misinterpreted.  For instance, an analyst is typically very slow and methodical in their decision making process.  If you rush them, it’s likely neither one of you will be very happy by the end of the conversation.

To avoid misunderstandings it is vital to not just know the communication style of who you are talking to, but to know your own communications style as well.  That way you will know what could be potentially misunderstood.  You will also be better at participating in dialogue, because you will be able to better interpret what someone is trying to convey to you, even if your personalities differ greatly.

So before we review the characteristics of each persona and communication strategies for them, take 5 minutes to do a self-assessment, for download here.  That way you will know once and for all what communication style you prefer, and your results won’t be skewed by the details you read next about each persona.

After finding out the pros and cons about each communication style, you will begin to see why it’s helpful to use a bit of all of them when speaking to others.

To find out more about boosting your teams communication by using the persona approach, log on to the eSport Coaching Network to follow the rest of this communication series.  You can also feel free to ask me questions by commenting below, following me on Twitter, or emailing me directly at summer@mindovergamer.com.