Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tango Sin #4 For Men: Giving Unsolicited Advice To Women At A Milonga

Men, I implore you--learn from my mistakes and do not give women unsolicited advice, tips, or constructive criticism at milongas. Ever. Back before I switched to tango I used to give feedback to women often when I was at salsa clubs until finally one night my dance partner said to me "Mark, I just want to have fun. Can we just dance?"

I quickly recovered from her comment (it didn't take me more than 3 months). As difficult as it was to hear this, I knew instantly she was right. People go to dance to have fun, not be criticized by others. So, I stopped giving feedback to women that night and I've never done so at milongas. It's made milongas so much more enjoyable for my partners and me. Most of us want to get better at tango, but that's why we take classes, go to practicas & take privates. We don't go to milongas to get unsolicited feedback from other people. In fact, it's rude to do so. I've spoken to my female friends about this a lot and they rarely, if ever, ask for feedback. So, the vast majority of time men are simply offering it up on their own.

Why do men do this? In a phrase, it feels good.

It feels good to be the "expert", to "impart" one's knowledge to another person.

Why don't women like to hear the unsolicited feedback? It's for the same reason men don't like to hear "constructive criticism." In a phrase, it doesn't feel good!

Now, men, if you're raising objections at this point against my argument, then that probably means you give unsolicited feedback thinking it's wanted.

Trust me, it's not.

I was at a milonga this week and one guy gave feedback to every woman I saw him dance with. I could hear his pedantic style at one point because he finished a tanda next to my table. I was amazed by his partner's patience. He kept badgering her until she finally excused herself and walked away. The crazy thing is that of all the women I saw him dance with, most of them had better technique than the guy!

If you want to focus on improving tango, focus on your own--not others.

And if you want to make someone feel good, don't focus on yourself, but focus on your partner. Compliment her on one of her tango strengths. I've danced with countless women now and every single one, including absolute beginners, has at least 2 or 3 obvious strengths (connection, musicality, elegance, body movement, technique...). I'm definitely not suggesting you say anything gratuitous. But, men, if you feel an uncontrollable urge to give unsolicited feedback, don't point out one of her areas for improvement. Mention some of her true strengths, instead.


Elizabeth said...

When this happens to me, I just ask if he wants to meet me for a practica. That sometimes stops them, but not always, as these types are a bit clueless. If it happens too much I just stop accepting the invitations.

lynda said...

I've actually been patted on the head!

Mark Andersen said...

Great idea, Elizabeth, about asking them to a practica! I'm guessing most chronic "feedbackers" just want to impart their wisdom & move on. It's interesting that I don't see more advanced dancers giving feedback often--it's normally advanced beginners/beginning intermediates.

MarkAndersenSF@gmail.com said...

Wow, Lynda, I'm sorry to hear that--how odd. Sometimes you have to wonder what's going through people's minds.

lynda said...

I think the guy thought he was being cute.

I think it might be because I look young. (?)

Ah well.