Part 1: Are you obligated to say yes to every dance?

We talked last week about how no one is obligated to say ‘Yes’ to a dance… but what happens when someone says ‘No’ to you?

Well, everyone reacts a little differently. It’s OK to feel emotional about it. Maybe you feel let down, or you think it’s because you suck. Maybe you think they’re a stuck up ass. Maybe you get angry. First things first: anything you feel emotionally is OK. However, that doesn’t mean it’s OK for you to be an ass. There’s two parts to understanding and taking control of your reactions: how they reject you, and how you react.

Rejection Types: The Reasonable

“No, thank you”

Please don’t read into it too much. They were polite, they were honest. Assuming there was no mocking glare. It probably has less to do with you than it has to do with how that person was feeling at the time. Yes, they said no. It sucks… but it’s not the end of the world. Go ask someone else. Get your mind off it. Should you try again? You can, but you may not get that dance tonight.

“Not now/I’m just not feeling it right now”

Take heart. This usually means that it’s just not a good time. Maybe the song is too fast or slow for them. Maybe they’re tired. Maybe they just need a moment. Whatever it is, ‘Not Now’ does not mean ‘I hate you’. Don’t confuse them. Move on. Find someone else to dance with, and come back later.

“I’m tired/sore/hurt/hungry/thirsty/need a rest”

They gave you a reason. Respect it. If you start reading into this every time as a lie, you’re going to be very unhappy. I suggest taking these ones on face value; it makes everyone happier. Come back later. It’s not off the table.

“Not now, but save me a dance later!”

Well, that’s a green light if I ever saw one. If you see them later, ask them. They may even come find you! If they decline a second time, they were just trying to be polite with their no, albeit badly. Listen to their words, take them at face value.

“I promised this dance to someone else”

If you hold this reason against someone, I don’t know what will appease you. Let them have their dance with the person they promised. Come back later.

Rejection Types: The Rude

“No. Hahahaha.”     “Um, no.”    “You suck.”     *Eye Roll* *Walks Away*

These are rude, and I really hope that this never happens to anyone. It’s not fun, it’s not pleasant. There’s no excuse; this person is just rude. Honestly, why would you even want to dance with them? Things like this are basically the only time that I would say calling someone an ‘ass’ is appropriate when it comes to dance-declining.

Controlling Reactions to Declines

We all have the power to control ourselves fully. That includes dealing with rejection. No matter how many or few times you get rejected or by whom, always remember you have value beyond how many ‘Yes’ dances you get. The only way to learn who connects well with you through dance is to ask, and if that connection isn’t there to try another partner. The longer we stop to think about why someone said no, the worse we are going to feel.

Essentially, anyone with normal human social skills should be able to find an honest way to decline. Rejection almost always stings, so regardless, it will sometimes feel not the greatest. The best advice here I can give is to reverse the roles. What would be the most common reason you would reject a dance? I think for most people (barring someone dangerous or creepy) the answer is that they were just not feeling it. Those same people may be perfectly happy to dance with you on another occasion.

Personal anecdote time: I once asked a pro to dance at the worst time. He was clearly not in a head space to dance (more on that next week) but I was really desperate to dance. He didn’t say no that day, and our dance sucked. I felt like crap, because it was a pity dance. Fast forward a year later, I asked him again. He knew me better by then, but he declined. I got upset, and it took a while for me to calm down and realize that it wasn’t about me – it was about what he was looking for.

Guess what? The next day, I saw him again. We danced. It was awesome. He was happy, I was happy. The rejection, at the end of the day, didn’t matter. The most powerful tool for accepting rejection is to recognize that it’s very rarely about the rejected, and far more about the person doing the rejecting!

One thing that I would always caution people about is to not make assumptions about the person’s nature because they declined a dance. No one is 1-dimensional. Let them have their ‘No’ in peace. Here’s an idea: if you really wanted to connect with that person, try talking to them instead. Strike up a conversation.

What should someone not do? Walk over to their friends and start talking about what an ass that person is.  It’s petty, it’s rude, and it’s disproportional. It’s like a teenager telling their mom “I hate you!” because they didn’t get what they wanted.

How do I minimize the No’s?

We’re going to talk more about this next week in part 3. For starters, pay attention to markers that indicate someone actually wants to dance. Don’t pick the person sitting in the far corner talking to another person. Find someone willing to make eye contact; that’s usually a good sign! It doesn’t work 100% of the time, but it does work more often than not!

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Photo: Brian De Rivera Simon, Tarsipix Studios