Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Do I Know You? Have We Met?

It's funny when they turn the tables on me. I have fun saying hi to people who don't know me well, knowing they have to wonder if they should remember me from a prior meeting. Most are polite and pretend we are friends, and they do remember me in the future. When people remember you from prior events, you get more dances and everybody wins.

Last April I wrote about The Power of Greetings, stating you should hi to almost everyone, even if you barely know them. Even if you simply think you know them, say hello to as many people as possible. Salsa is an intensely social dance, and the more people you know, the more fun you'll have. It was very interesting to be on the other side of the technique. Here's how it all went down:

I walk into a crowded jazz class last night at Millennium Dance. Class already started and the warm-up is in progress. I'm weaving through twenty women doing stretches to put my gym bag in my usual spot on the far side of the room.

One attractive twenty-something looks at me and says "Hi!" as I glide past. I just want to get my shoes off and join the warm-up so I quickly grin and say "Hi" like we're old friends. But now I'm thinking, "Do I know you?" She looks like someone I know from the salsa scene, but I can't be sure.

It kind of bugs me, because I can't figure out if I've just seen her in other classes, maybe she's been in one of the classes I teach, or worse, I've danced with her at some salsa club and I'm having a senior moment, but I'm way too young for that excuse. It's embarrassing to forget someone I danced with, but it can happen if we only dance once and don't see each other for months. Maybe we're MySpace "friends" because we have mutual connections or maybe I'm losing my mind.

I'm warming up with the class and running my mental Rolodex thinking "where do I know her from?" just in case we end up talking later. As the class moves around, our paths cross many times and I'm still drawing a blank. I keep trying to put the pieces together, but I can't be sure. Thoughout the class I'm still wondering, "Who is this person?"

Toward the middle of the class, there is a quick water break and I'm still baffled, but now I'm determined to solve this puzzle, because it's been bugging me the whole class. I walk up to her and admit, "I know you from somewhere, but I can't recall where we met last..." I ask if she dances salsa and she says "yes". We talk a bit and figure out we have mutual friends, and she also takes other classes at Millennium, so that is probably our actual connection point. I'm relieved we haven't danced, as I tend to remember those people and I don't need another reminder I'm the grayest person in the room.

So now we have a real connection and when I see her in a club sometime, I'm sure we'll dance. Her simple "Hi" set up a situation where I won't forget her in the future.

Later the irony of the situation hit me: I do that to people all the time. I say "Hi", "Hello", "Good to see you" to everybody possible (click here for my April article). She turned the tables on me and it worked great for both of us. I doubt I would have said anything to her in the class, because I wasn't clear on the connection.

You should do the same thing, because even if she was wrong and we'd never met, since she thought she recognized me, now we have a connection and a quick conversation. Because people prefer dancing with someone they know, you should do it as often as possible. That simple two letter word - "Hi" - will provide you with a wealth of future dance partners, as long as you use it every chance you get.
My grandmother was a very tough woman. She buried three husbands. Two of them were just napping.
-Rita Rudner


  1. Works on salsa teachers, too. Very good indeed, since they usually meet so many people they can't possibly remember them all.

    This july in Hamburg on the salsa-festival I saw Tamambo from London strolling around and said to my girlfriend something like 'look, Tamambo', apparently loud enough so he did hear his name.
    He acted like the full time party professional he is, greeted us like long lost friends, made some small talk before excusing himself since he needed to be somewhere else.
    He can't have known us before this meeting, but he sure recognised us afterwards :)

  2. That makes sense to me! Thursday night I danced with a women who recognized me from another club, but it had been 6 months earlier.

    She had to remind me how we met.

    She was the guest instructor the first time I meet her and we danced after class. You can bet I will not forget her in the future.

    Saying "hi" to someone you barely know means they get to reconnect with you. Once that happens they are highly likely to remember you in the future.


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Don Baarns - Unlikely Salsero