So as promised, I did some soul searching and polling of a few of my friends, officers and coworkers about how to deal with gut feelings about a situation or someone when you don't have any proof to confirm what your gut is telling you.
It seems to me that gut feelings are just a precursor to investigating what is the root cause behind why it is you feel that way. Are you having a bad day? Are you being particularly paranoid? Are you noticing subtle trends regarding something that your subconscious is picking up before your conscious?
Let me give you an example of how I took care of my uneasy stomach this week with the advice I was given:
I suspected for awhile that one of my long standing guildies was unhappy. However when approached all responses were "I'm ok." So I let it go. I also, from keeping my eyes open recently saw indications of another guild (that recruited some of our notable drama laden ex-guildies) were trying to get this guildie to leave and join their new guild.
With that scenario painted, here are the steps I took to figure out if my gut feelings were justifiable.
1. Weigh the Evidence
As with most of my long standing guildies, I have set up communications outside the guild to keep up on day to day news whether it is MSN, Twitter, Facebook, etc. I noticed that statuses and conversation that had subtle undertones to it, which probably gave me my first warning that something was up. That, combined with prodding comments from said ex-guildies probably solidified the gut feeling that some poaching was going on. Add a little late night private vent channel discussions with said players and you got yourself a very suspicious situation.
2. Discuss the Situation...
...In confidence, with someone you trust.
I spent a good while talking about my thoughts and feelings with a trusted officer who gave me a little perspective on the situation and compared with me his views and feeling on the subject. It helped get my thoughts in order and find out if others might be seeing the same thing I was.
3. Confront with an open mind
The last step I took was to bring the guildie into a private vent channel with the officer I had my discussion with, and had a no-bullshit, guild related only conversation with the player. I laid my suspicions flat out on the table, and asked flat out if it was true. In fact, the guildie confirmed indeed they were thinking of leaving to join the guild I had suspected. That yes they have been unhappy for awhile but haven't done anything because they have been in the guild for quite a long time and thought maybe it was just a passing feeling. Although, the guildie couldn’t give us any direct point of which to work on to make their situation in the guild better, it still opened the lines of communication that seemed to not be there before. I believe if you are very direct with the player it prompts the player in return to be very direct with you.
The officer and I did not get angry, did not give ultimatums, kept an open mind, stayed professional and open to anything that was said; I believe that to be one of best things to do when confronting suspicions. You just don't know what the actual situation is and can't yet form an opinion about it without actualizing what is going on with the person in question.
In the end, my gut feeling was confirmed and my uneasiness with the situation calmed by now having the flat out facts. By taking these steps, I avoided days or weeks of agonizing supposing or speculation and embarrassment if my suspicions were wrong. By doing less internalization and more communication (which is key in any organization whether it be a workplace or a guild) we were able to pinpoint the problem (or in other situations lack thereof,) and come to a conclusion or understanding about it.