Learning When & How to Say No
A little background on the questions and answers below. The above Mpowered video on rejection received the following comment which was a long list of questions. Given the length of the video, it’s impossible to think of answers to all of these questions in advance but I do believe they deserve an answer because I’m certain there are plenty of people out there with the same questions on rejection. Also, given the length and depth of my answers, I think a blog article is easier to read than a comment on YouTube. Watch the video and have a read. See if you have the same questions, how you feel about the answers, and if you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to ask!
The best way to understanding is through conversation and discussion.
“I was going to praise this video, but then I realized some important pieces of information are missing, and praising it as is would be a bit unfair. So, I wonder, could you perhaps provide a clarification on a few points you make in the video:
1. Do you suggest to always refuse an invite when the floor is, in your opinion, too crowded? You could suggest to your partner to dance on the edge, there is always space there. There is always space behind the pillars as well. Or do you always feel the need to dance in the middle in the spotlight or close to the DJ booth? Is it more difficult for you to suggest to dance at the edge of the floor than to say NO to a person you see for the first time?”
I don’t have an “always” suggestion for anything. Every question and request needs to be assessed in the moment and then decided upon. The dance floor could be very crowded but maybe the dance is a bachata and it’s possible to stay in a closed position for the majority of the song. If that’s the case, a crowded dance floor might not pose the same risks as it might if people were dancing salsa.
As for suggesting to a partner to dance in a certain place, sure that’s an option but usually you can take a look at the dance floor and see that it’s generally crowded. If it’s a huge event where navigating around the dance floor itself takes a minute or two, well, that doesn’t sound like the best use of time when a song lasts about 5 minutes. You’d start dancing mid-song when you could just wait and dance a song from beginning to end later.
Waiting for a “bad” song.
“2. I wonder if you have ever attended dancing venues where the floor was not crowded? Do you always wait until they play Cha Cha Cha or a bad song until you accept someone’s invite (because that’s when the floor usually gets un-crowded)?”
Yes, many times. I’ve attended events where the floor is nearly empty, where the floor is packed but you can still dance, and where the floor is so crowded that not even the dancers on the dance floor are able to move comfortably.
A Cha Cha Cha is a harder genre of music to connect to than a salsa. So, if I really don’t know someone, I wouldn’t wait for that style of song to dance with them.
When the dance floor opens up, what you might consider a “bad” song might actually be something I and my partner enjoy so, sure, we might take advantage of the floor clearing out.
Going out while injured.
“3. I am curious why you come to the dancing event when you are injured? You might consider going to the doctor instead.
Salsa events are not just for dancing. At least there’s been no sign indicating that. Salsa events are social events. People go to dance, to connect with friends, to enjoy the music, to enjoy other people dancing. Whether you go for all or just one of those reasons, you have a right to be there.
When I have been injured, I have missed dancing. Attending an event, even if I wasn’t dancing, was my way of feeling the energy of the party, laughing and having fun with my friends, and getting to enjoy the music in a different way than I usually do.
As for suggesting I go to the doctor instead, do you think that people who are injured just get up and go dancing? Most people who are injured have seen a doctor and gotten a prescription for which movements are ok and which should be avoided. Going to a dance event isn’t in lieu of seeing a doctor. It’s a way to enjoy your rest in the company of friends and good music instead of in front of the TV at home, alone.
Where to stand.
And, if you just come to watch, why would you have to stand near the dance floor, where guys, by default, would think you are ready to dance (there are plenty of salsa etiquette videos where this is explained)? Why hang around there and turn guys down one by one, rather than sit comfortably at the bar watching the floor from there?”
As for where someone stands when they are just watching or when they are waiting to dance is also not a rule. Not sure which etiquette videos demand that only someone ready to dance is allowed on the edge of the dance floor but that’s not something that’s easy to follow when you have an event that’s just a dance floor without a bar or any other area to hang out.
For someone interested in watching people dance, the edge of the dance floor is the best place to be. The fact that it happens to also be the best place to be asked to dance is neither here nor there. The person standing will have to know that they will naturally be asked and will have to decide how they say no. And those asking should also know that not all people on the edge of the dance floor are waiting to be asked.
Again, I’m not sure which venues you’ve frequented but speaking from attending all sorts of events from congresses, nightclubs, to studio socials, sometimes the “bar area” just doesn’t exist. And again, whether you’re dancing or watching, you can stand wherever you want, as long as you’re not literally in the way of people walking or dancing.
Say yes or go home.
4. You say you should say NO when you really do not want to dance. I wonder why not just stay at home then? Why come to the club just to turn guys down?
Going back to when someone says “no.” It might not be to every dance. If so, why should someone stay at home. Going out to a dance event does not oblige you to say yes to every request. That’s not the arrangement at a dance event. The dance is social and yes, we are all there to have fun but that fun has to be mutual. No one should be having fun at the expense of someone else.
The essence of asking is being prepared for any answer. Instead of being upset at the person that says “no” you could always ask someone else. Frankly, when people ask but the energy and attitude behind their request is similar to this question which is basically saying “say yes to me or go home,” I will not be inclined to say yes. It’s not the level of dancer that results in a yes or a no. It’s the level of comfort and attitude. Much about a person’s attitude can be deduced from the way that person makes the request in the first place.
Go back and ask.
5. You say that you say no when you want to dance with someone else or when you feel tired. May I ask you: Do you then go and ask this guy for a dance after you have rested (or after you have danced with your favorite partners, or after the floor became freer)? Because this is what basic salsa etiquette says you are supposed to do, as far as I know. There are plenty of blogs and videos about it. When I reject a girl, it’s only because I need to change my shirt. After I change, I go and find her, even if she is now in the other end of the club. And if she is dancing, I wait until they are done, and then I ask her. And I don’t care if I realized she is a complete beginner while she was dancing and I was watching. Because asking her in this scenario is basic courtesy. If you indeed had a good reason to reject, you are expected to go and ask this person when the reason is gone. May I ask you: Do you do this every time you reject for a “good reason”? If you do, why is this essential information missing in your otherwise very detailed video?
Again, I’m not sure about this basic salsa etiquette that says I should go seek out someone because I said “no” even though I did not follow that up with “next song, later, or I’ll come find you.” If basic salsa etiquette obliges me to do things I never said I would, I disagree with the approach. If I have the intention of dancing with that person to the next song, I would be very clear and say so. When that next song comes on, I would look for that person. If all I said is “no, I’m going to dance with x” and there’s no promise to find each other, then I’m not going to commit myself to doing that.
Sometimes the events are small and I might see that person’s face again in which case I’ll ask them. Sometimes the events are huge. The person who asked disappears into a crowd of 2000 people. I won’t be spending my night trying to find them. I don’t even do that with my friends at big events.
The reasons you reject someone are your reasons. How you go about your night in terms of finding them later or not is your prerogative.
The courtesy is the delivery and the follow through to what you say you will do. I am very careful with what I say whether that’s a “no” or “maybe later.” If I say the former, it’s always with the utmost respect and kindness in tone. If it’s the latter, I commit myself to honoring my word. For this reason, if I know I’m not going to go looking for them, then I won’t say so.
Expectations are the root cause for disappointment. Misplaced expectations, even more so. I’ve asked people who have said “later” and have forgotten. I don’t get upset about this. I was probably dancing in the meantime myself. I’ll ask them another time, or not. There are so many people to dance with that getting worked up over one just doesn’t make sense.
As for your comment about essential information missing in this video, I hope you understand that rejection is a multifaceted, complicated topic that couldn’t possibly be addressed comprehensively in a 5 minute video. Especially when questions like yours are specific to your experience. I can think of many points to address but I have to wait for people’s feedback to address the points that didn’t come to mind.
Percentages & Averages
6. Could you please tell how many, approximately, you reject, on average? 10 %? 50 %? 90 %? Just an estimate would be interesting.
I’m guessing this question is for kicks. So for kicks, how about you follow me around to every dance party I attend and tabulate the numbers? Just a warning, there are a LOT of parties.
Home vs Abroad
7. It is a bit unclear whether you suggest to practice the attitude described in this video in the local club where one permanently lives or only in places where one goes to as a tourist (e.g. a congress) and there are mostly people one will never see again?
This approach to rejection, specifically being comfortable communicating honestly about your wants and desires is something I suggest people practice in all aspects of their lives, on and off the dance floor. Not sure if you understood the essence of the message but it’s not about saying “no” all the time. It’s about saying “no” when it’s really not something you want to do in that moment.
8. The “conversation” analogy you use at the end: I find it very nice indeed. I am just wondering whether you believe that there will be a lot of conversation between you and a person (who you never saw before) if the first thing you tell him is “Sorry, I do not want to talk to you right now, I’m too tired”?
How someone interprets your answer is not for you to decide. If you take the time to be kind, polite, and compassionate in how you answer, then you have done your best. If someone hearing your answer interprets “no” as “never,” that’s not your problem. If they want to act on that “no” as if it’s a “never” and never ask you again or even talk to you, that would be unfortunate but that’s not within your control.
People asking have a responsibility to show compassion and understanding as well. Going back to expectations, if you’re asking, don’t expect a “yes.” Be open to any answer. If you hear a rejection and start making up stories in your head about what that person thinks of you, who they are, etc, then you probably have some reflection to do.
I’m including the following comment and reply in this post because it ties into rejection and entitlement perfectly. We are all free to ask our questions and post comments. Unnecessarily attacking someone’s character because we don’t get what we want when we want is not a sign of maturity or respect. We have to remember that we are not entitled to anyone’s personal time, energy, or effort just because we posted a comment. Being mean about it makes it even less so.
Dear Magna, You are a wonderful dancer. But you should really work on your self-esteem if you only allow comments unequivocally praising your videos. Goodbye.
Dear Nu Czto, thank you for all of your comments. This comment doesn’t quite warrant a reply but you seem pretty persistent so here you go.
My channel has plenty of comments approved even those criticizing my dancing. I have dealt with it all my life and have learned that it can’t be avoided. I only censor comments that are vulgar or inappropriate.
This video on rejection and other similar videos in the Mpowered series are not about seeking praise. They are for the purpose of having conversations and dialogue around difficult topics. I am certain not everyone will agree wholeheartedly with my point of view. I’m open to that. I encourage the discussion.
As for your comments specifically, you wrote a very long comment with numerous questions. It was approved. You made some edits which I didn’t have a chance to read so you were held for approval. You posted another long comment that was held for approval because I didn’t have a chance to read it. My intention was to answer your questions thoroughly when I had time in my schedule but you reposted twice and now added this unnecessarily judgmental comment because your needs weren’t addressed to your expectations.
In finally getting to your questions, it seems you’ve either experienced rejection by me or someone else and are still holding on to it. You might resent the person who rejected you and want answers or an apology. The tone of your questions range from respectful to entitled. As do your multiple posts and this comment.
Your questions will be answered in an article because my answers are too long for YouTube, however I’ll reiterate an important point here. Having a sense of entitlement will lead to a lot of resentment and disappointment in life. Try to let go of that and respect the fact that people have their own lives with their own wants, desires, and demands on their time. If what you want doesn’t align with what someone can give, don’t take it personally.
I welcome you back to comment but I suggest some self-reflection first. It would be of benefit to both of us and would contribute to a more productive discourse in the future.
What are your thoughts?
Rejection is not an easy thing to deal with nor an easy topic to discuss, especially when we have had our own experiences with it that might have left a bad taste in our mouths. It’s important, however, that when we do want clarification that we are mindful of our tone and the words we use so that we are not projecting our negative experience with rejection on someone else unnecessarily.
🔹How would you answer the questions above?
🔹What are your thoughts on rejection in dance?
🔹Have you ever felt obliged or entitled when asking?
🔹Is there anything someone could do to make rejection easier for you to receive?
You might also be interested in reading/watching:
- Blog: Do You Always Say Thank You?
- Video: Dealing with Rejection
- Video: Benefits of Rejection – TEDx Jersey City
Questions or Comments?
Are there topics or questions related to rejection or anything else you’d like me to address? Would you like to share your thoughts with me? Click here to submit your question or send me a message. 🙂
Want to keep up to date with me?
1. Follow me on Instagram to find out what’s new and exciting!
2. Subscribe to my YouTube channel for videos on topics like this and more.
3. Join my mailing list to stay up to date on upcoming events, live sessions, online course and webinars.