How to Deal With Rejection

When you’re first learning to dance it’s easy to laugh at yourself and just hope that one day you’ll feel less awkward. As you start to push yourself to dance with strangers, learn harder material, perform or compete you’re likely to have moments that really knock your confidence, maybe even make you feel like giving up. Most of us do.

Imagine the scene: you’re at a weekend event and you take notice of some dancers that look quite good. You think hey I’ll be brave and make a point of asking those folks for a dance. You spot one of them and approach.

“Hi want to dance?”

“Oh sorry no.”

“Oh okay, no worries”

You approach someone else, “Are you dancing?”

“Oh uh–I’m just resting…”

“Oh right sorry”

You ask another person and get yet another rejection. You start to feel a bit snubbed, a bit down about yourself and your dancing.

What to do next…

I think we’ve all experienced this at one time or another. Does no one want to dance with you or is it all in your head? It doesn’t really matter which it is, you still feel crummy. Here are some tips to help get past that icky feeling and still have an awesome night.

First, just take a moment to rule out a few factors that are in your control. If you can answer yes to any of these then you may just need to be more aware of these factors as any of them could lead to someone declining a dance:

  • Could the person you’ve asked be uncomfortable with the speed or style of the music or the role you were asking them to dance?
  • Did you ask in an unusual or indirect way? (an insinuating hand gesture may be less effective than a direct question)
  • Was the person you asked in the middle of a conversation or doubled over out of breath.
  • Have you danced with the person before and gotten the impression that they were uncomfortable?

If you answered no to all of the above questions then remind yourself what a declined dance (or two) does not mean. Your mind can take you to some strange places when you’re feeling down. It’s good to remember that a rejection (especially one from a complete stranger):

  • Does NOT mean that no one likes you
  • Does NOT mean that everyone thinks you’re a terrible dancer
  • Does NOT mean that you’re not good enough to be at the event
  • Does NOT mean that you’re not good enough to enjoy dancing and feel like you’re pretty okay at it sometimes

What a few declined dances might mean:

  • Just a bit of random bad luck (and a bit of projection)
  • A difference in taste (you love the band–they’re just waiting for the DJ to come back on)
  • The dancers you’re asking are only there to dance with people they know, the teachers, dancers with the same wristband
  • The dancers that you’ve been asking have made negative assumptions about you/your dancing based on your clothes, age, body shape, etc

Some of these reasons might not seem very kind. I’ve tried to be realistic. However, in the moment it can be really difficult to tell if someone is snubbing you or if you’re just having a bit of bad luck so try not to jump to conclusions. Ultimately it doesn’t matter what the reason is because all of these things are outside of your control and also not about you or your dancing.

How to Turn Your Night Around

This is the important bit, how to go from being sad and annoyed to hopefully having an awesome time!

  1. Take a break and chat to people, get a drink, or just listen to the band.
  2. Remind yourself of the good interactions you’ve had at the event–nice chats, a compliment in a class, good dances the night before.
  3. If someone declines a dance with no explanation don’t ask them again later, it’s not worth it. If you feel like you are getting rejections from a certain group of people avoid asking anyone in that group.
  4. Focus your energy instead on all of the other lovely dancers in the room! (ask people from your classes, people you’ve had good dances with before, people that you’ve had good chats with)
  5. Treat others how you would want to be treated. When I feel bad about myself, being nice to someone always makes me feel better. If you feel bad about your dancing, make a point of complimenting someone else. If you feel like you’ve been snubbed, take a moment to make sure that you aren’t making someone else feel that way. Go ask a beginner to dance, ask someone who seems to be sat down a lot, dance with someone who’s working hard to learn the opposite role.
  6. By now you should be back on track to have an awesome time!

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