Friday, July 13, 2012

BoxerSaint's Classy Corner #1

          I’ve been an official author here for a month or so now, and I’ve finally decided to post.  If it helps, I haven’t posted on my own blog in that time frame either.  So, without further adieu, welcome to the first edition of “BoxerSaint’s Classy Corner.”

I wanted to make a good first impression on DDK blog, so I found an article on the Business Insider website discussing first impressions.  I thought it was interesting and began to wonder how their 12 suggestions for a first impression can be applied in a digestible 40k format.  Here are my results:
1. Dress for success

"Psychology studies reveal that first impressions are formed within 7 to 17 seconds of meeting someone;  55% of a person's opinion is determined by physical appearance.” -BusinessInsider

What this says from a tournament perspective is that what you walk up to the table wearing forms over half of what your opponent will think about you during and after the game.  Personally, I’ve taken to wearing a button up and a tie to tournaments, mostly for the irony of standing next to the guy in the pink floyd t-shirt that he hasn’t washed since last month. 

            Now some of your opponents may be so socially inept that they don’t gather any first impressions about their opponent, and at the end of the day they may not even remember a single person they met because they are too self-absorbed and socially oblivious to realize that this is a social hobby (if said person did actually realize it was a social hobby, he/she would have probably opted to stay home and play WoW/GuildWars/SWTOR instead).  For the rest of us, we should probably take time to think about what we are wearing, and what that tells everyone else about us.  We shouldn’t obsess over it like a middle school girl, but this is a small community, and you WILL run into your opponent again in the future, and what you wear can quickly set you apart from our socially oblivious counterparts.

2. Choose your words with care

“Statistics show that first impressions are also determined by the words people use. In fact, 7% of what we think of others is based on what they say.
Before you meet someone for the first time, think about how you want to come across: optimistic, confident, humble, aggressive, innovative?" -BusinessInsider
            Again, moving in from a tournament point of view, your words during deployment and the first turn can set the tone for the rest of the game.  If you come off as interested in your opponent as a person, and try to engage them in casual conversation early on, then you are both likely to be more considerate of the other when that inevitable rules dispute happens in the middle of turn 3.  You don’t have to feign interest in your opponent, but ask them a little about themselves.

                   I have a few stock questions I fall back to when facing a new opponent:  Where are you from?  How far of a drive is that to here? What do you do for a living? How long have you been playing 40k?  Feel free to write them on note cards and keep them in your codex if you have trouble communicating with people face to face.

                  You can also come off as aggressive and intimidating if you hit the ground running.  If the first words you say to your opponent as he approaches the table is: “Here’s my list, where is yours? Ready to roll off for deployment?”  Congratulations, you have just made your opponent interpret you as 7% more rude and obnoxious than if you had simply introduced yourself first.  Some people may use this approach on purpose, to immediately start the “above the table game” and force your opponent into a defensive mind frame before any rolls are made.  Good luck with that.

3. Strike the right tone

“Have you ever instantly disliked someone because their voice sounded brash, whiny or cocky? That is because 38% of person's first impression is determined by tone of voice.”  -BusinessInsider

            I can understand this statistic, but I think it is pretty shallow.  Yeah the guy with the squeaky high voice might be annoying at first, but if you get to know him and he is a decent guy then I think your opinion can be adjusted.  On the other hand, if he is a d-bag, then it just makes him exponentially annoying.  No suggestions here, squeaky, you can’t really change your voice.  Maybe gargle some green tea before coming to the tournament?

4. Readjust your body language

body-language.jpgDuring face to face meetings, 93% of people's judgments of others are based on non-verbal input like body language. How you stand, sit, and shake hands communicates a lot more than what you say. 
Good body posture, a nice smile, and eye contact are essential for making good impressions. It is equally important to avoid crossing your arms (which may signify boredom) or sitting too casually (which could indicate a lack of care). It is easy to unconsciously strike a pose; stop every few minutes to notice how your body is positioned. You may be harming or helping your case without even knowing it. ” -BusinessInsider

I think this is a very useful section.  Body language is just as important, if not more so, than what you say verbally.  As they said, if you’re sitting across the table from your opponent with your arms crossed, huffing and puffing, and refusing to make eye contact, then they are probably going to assume you aren’t enjoying yourself, and are likely to not enjoy themselves as much either (assuming this is a more casual game).  Be a good sport, if your Land Raider takes a penetration hit round 1 and gets immobilized, get over it.  Yeah, the odds were against that happening, but that is how odds work.  Give a jovial, “Oh man! That sucks for me!” and get over it. Fight on.

            When I played football in high school, the coach made us run laps if he ever saw us on the field, bent over, trying to catch our breath.  Why? Because it’s like blood in the water to an opponent.  Once they see you starting to give up, they’ll feed off your fatigue and pounce on you.   That rings true in a tournament as well.  When I see someone start to get frustrated that their plans aren’t working how they want, I play a tighter game.  I keep applying pressure and keep pushing them back.  If my opponent is more casual and acting as if nothing I’m doing is affecting him, then I start to wonder what I am missing.  I start to play with less confidence, trying to figure out what his strategy is, and why I haven’t stopped it yet.  I’m less aggressive when my opponent is relaxed and more aggressive when my opponent is frustrated.

            Also, to the guy that walks up to the table wearing headphones, and keeps them on during the game, what is your problem? Take your headphones off, this game requires open communication.  When I see you wearing headphones from the get go, I immediately assume you are disengaged from the game.  You can listen to Justin Bieber on the ride home, d-bag.
5. Use someone's name often

“ People like it when they are singled out; cater to their ego and call someone by their name.
As soon as you learn someone's name, say it back to them and then repeat it throughout the conversation...while it may seem simple, people are more likely to connect with you if you make the effort to get their name right.”  -BusinessInsider

            This is just an important tip for being polite.  I have the hardest time remembering names, so for me, I am very impressed and appreciative when someone remembers my name, especially when I met them at a different tournament months ago.           

Faces I can remember, but names elude me.  Introduce yourself when you get to the table, as common courtesy requires, and after you get their name, repeat it and ask them if they are ready to start the game.
“Nice to meet you, Samuel Jackson.  *Pause* So, Samuel, are you ready to roll for deployment?”
            “Wow, Samuel, that is a tough list! 6 Twin-link Las razorbacks? I’m in for a fight!”
            It helps you remember their name, and helps set the tone for the rest of the game as well.

6. Be on time
Always be on time for an initial meeting. People are busy; one of the worst offenses you can commit is not respecting their time.
Even better, arrive 15 minutes early. Spend a few minutes collecting your thoughts and walk into an interview composed. This tactic also leaves time for getting lost.”  -BusinessInsider
            Tournaments are timed games. Get to your table as soon as you can.  If you arrive early, start looking at the terrain and think about your game plan.  How will you deploy if you get this quarter? How will you deploy if you get the other quarter?  Do you want to deploy refuse flank and use the center building for cover?

            This is also a tone setting issue.  I’ve had games where my opponent showed up late, and he turned out to be a gentlemen and a scholar. We had enough time to finish the game, and we both enjoyed ourselves.  I’ve other games where the guy showed up late, and was a total jerk.  I remember both of their faces, and maybe their names.  Guess how my next game against the jerk is going to go? Probably not good... 

 7. Focus on the other person

Talking to much about yourself will make you appear self-centered and bore your listener.
Before your meeting, make a list of all the things you want to know about the other person: How did they get into their line of work? What business partnerships do they already have/are they seeking to cultivate? What are their business aspirations?” -BusinessInsider

This is common sense, and we covered most of it in under point number 2.  Engage your opponent; ask questions about their life, their army, and their paint scheme, whatever.  Don’t try to bring everything back on yourself that is a fast way to set a bad tone.

“Cool dreadnoughts, I converted MY dreadnoughts from the forge world models.  That is a nice paint job, however I prefer to use blue highlights when I paint black models.” Don’t be this guy.

 8. Be a good listener

“35 Business studies analyzed by the International Listening Center indicated that listening is a top skill needed for success in business. Unfortunately, most people only retain about 50% of what they hear...React to comments with phrases such as "interesting," "that makes sense," and "could you tell me more about that?" Ask follow up questions; it will show you are engaged in the conversation and care about the subject matter.” -BusinessInsider

This is similar to number 2 and number 7.  Just respond when people say things. They are called “listening noises.”  Feel free to use the following listening noises:
“I never thought of doing it that way.”

Spoiler alert: This tactic can also be used with your significant other. Don’t tell them that though.

Additionally, if you listen to them talk, especially if you get them talking about the game, you can start to discern what their strategy might be, or where they feel their lines are the weakest.  Use it to your advantage. This is a form of “above the table gaming” that I can condone.

9. Be careful with humor

“Jokes are very hit or miss. One taken the wrong way can send you to social Siberia.
While there is nothing wrong with a little banter, avoid controversial jokes or sarcasm that could be misinterpreted. Everyone is different; before you know someone's sensitivities, it is best to play it safe and tone down the joke attempts.” -BusinessInsider

No political or religious jokes, unless they are regarding 40k fluff.  Also, don’t make bad comments about someone’s painting, and while we are at it, be careful that your compliments aren’t backhanded as well.

“That’s a good paint job for someone who has only been playing for a few months.” BACKHAND!

“Gandhi and the Pope walk into a bar...” Not acceptable in a new social situation.
“An Ethereal and a Ministorum Priest walk into a bar...” TOPICAL AND ACCEPTABLE!

10. Bring printed materials with you
books.jpg“Bringing materials to a first meeting automatically makes you look like a responsible, organized person...The process will make the meeting run smoother and it should impress the person you are meeting. With that said, don't go overboard; they'll think you're a know it all or that you're trying too hard.” -BusinessInsider

Business Insider probably didn’t want this to fit so well with 40k, but it does.  Bring your codex, your rulebook, your printed FAQs, dice, a tape measure, models...etc...etc.  Be prepared.

I once had a guy walk up to the table with a handful of marines and drop them all on the table.  He also had a wrinkled, torn army sheet.  My initial impression? Oh dear. However, that turned into an enjoyable and memorable experience. That isn’t always the case though.  If our personalities hadn’t have melded well together, then this was the first ingredient in a recipe for a bad game.

11. Do your research

“Know as much as possible about the person you are meeting before you're introduced.  You will impress someone immediately if you can ask informed questions about their background and signify that you understand their interests/achievements.
With an abundance of social media tools at your disposal, it should not be difficult to dig up some professional information.  You might stumble upon a mutual interest or friend that you can drop into conversation for automatic chemistry.” -BusinessInsider

 Research and know the other codexes and the rules. Why? I can see this working on two levels:

1) It will improve your game.  You can’t plan for something you don’t know can happen. Knowledge is power, and all that.

2) Asking questions over and over about your opponent’s list can get annoying.  Even more so when you try to call foul over it.

            “You didn’t tell me your unit could do that! I would have done this if I had known that!”  Don’t get to this point. Do your homework, or take this as a lesson hard learned.

12. Relax and be yourself

“Everyone is nervous before a first meeting; there is a lot at stake and the stress can get pretty intense. The more at ease you are, the more the other person can get to know the real you.
Before your meeting, do something that makes you happy: go to the gym, take a bath, listen to music. Instead of focusing on what's at stake, concentrate on pumping yourself up. Make a list of your best qualities, give yourself a pep talk in the mirror, or call a family member or friend who can give you a boost.
During the meeting, pretend you are having a casual cup of coffee with a friend. If you get flustered, don't panic; take a deep breath and keep going. Never assume you are making a bad impression; you never know what the other person is thinking!” -BusinessInsider

Please take a bath, but if I catch you in the bathroom giving yourself a pep talk in front of the mirror, I’ll probably punch you.  Just relax, it’s a game.  Relaxing doesn’t mean you can’t have an intense, competitive game.  It just means take it easy, have fun.

I’ll leave us with a quote from a young George S. Patton, patron saint of Awesome.  After losing in a pistol shooting contest where he argued that his later rounds when through the same holes as some of his earlier shots, and the judges contended he simply missed the target altogether, Patton said this (according to wikipedia):

georgepatton.jpg“The high spirit of sportsmanship and generosity manifested throughout speaks volumes for the character of the officers of the present day. There was not a single incident of a protest or any unsportsmanlike quibbling or fighting for points which I may say, marred some of the other civilian competitions at the Olympic Games. Each man did his best and took what fortune sent them like a true soldier, and at the end we all felt more like good friends and comrades than rivals in a severe competition, yet this spirit of friendship in no manner detracted from the zeal with which all strove for success.”

Take what fortune sends you like a true soldier, and strive for success with as much zeal as you can.  And stay classy, always.

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