Social dancing: How to cope with rejections

I love to dance with people I haven’t danced with before, and I ask people I don’t know for a dance all the time. I seldom get a no. And if I do, I don’t get offended anymore. I have developed a strategy for no nos. I call it: “say no to yourself” in a positive, proactive manner.

1. Pain

Many follows underestimate how much a no can hurt. Just think of a poor guy, still in Beginner’s Hell, standing paralyzed at the rims of the dance floor struggling for hours to get the courage to ask for a dance and then got a no! It really hurts to see the same follow dance with someone else the next moment.

It can hurt to the core of a leader’s soul, undermining self-esteem and self-confidence. It is like that your existence has been questioned, self-doubt takes hold of you.

Not all leaders feel it that way all the time or most of the time. Many experienced leaders don’t care that much any more, but we have all experienced it as described and we still remember the devastating feeling.

Even at Intermediate level many leaders can get extremely upset when getting a no. It can more or less spoil the evening. It might not show, they might have several good dances after the incident, but on their way home they are fuming. There is a black cloud hanging over them, they get overwhelmed by a feeling of doom, failure and defeat. Almost any leader have had moments when they were contemplating sweet revenge because of a no!

2. Reason

Somewhere between Intermediate and Advanced level, I finally understood that there are a 1000 good reasons for a no I will always accept. For a while I thought that I had a right to know the reason for a no, and that if just the reason was given, a no would be much more acceptable.

Today I strongly believe that we all have the right to say no for whatever reason and that no one has the right to demand an explanation. To friends we are likely to give a reason, and to strangers it is nice to volunteer one. But it is wrong and a waste of time to start arguing about a no on the dance floor.

3. Strategy

My strategy for “no nos by saying no to myself” is based on a simple question: Why ask for a dance and get a no, when you based on instinct, experience and observation could have told yourself the result in the first place? And what is the point of getting a not sincere yes (an almost no) out of courtesy? The resulting dance is likely to score low on connection.

Why not become better at reading people? Don’t ask someone you don’t know, absorbed in their smartphone or when they talk with friends. Don’t ask someone having had a lot of dances or looking like in need of a brake. Don’t ask if they look away, or there is the slightest tendency that they try to avoid you. Don’t ask someone surrounded by their peers also ready to ask. Become better at spotting people signaling, they have already the next dance booked. Avoid “scared to death” beginners unless you can get a reassuring eye contact before you ask. Don’t ask at an arm’s length as if you know it will be a no.

When asking people you don’t know, ask when they have been sitting over for a dance or two, ask when you are the last chance to get that dance, ask after some small talking, making it much more easy to say yes, because they already know you.

Also when you feel it is time for a brake, to go for water, for fresh air, to the restroom or to go home, don’t suddenly change your mind and ask a stranger for a dance anyway. You probably look like someone that deserves to get a no.

4. Benefit

The “no nos strategy by saying no to yourself” has huge benefits not just because it reduces the embarrassment of nos and the number of low quality disconnected dances. It also makes the art of asking for a dance more fun.

A no is not a personal insult but just a miss as part of a learning process. Smile to yourself as you try to figure out, what you got wrong about that person and situation. How can I spot and avoid such a case in the future?

Or maybe I didn’t propose at my best and deserved a no?

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