Is someone talking down your dancing?
They seemed so nice, but now they're saying unkind things about you.
You probably don't deserve it, but it will happen if you're improving regularly.
Over a year ago I wrote an articled titled "Better Dancer: More Partner Lying." It outlines the fact that as you improve, you'll get less constructive feedback from partners. They may tell you your strengths, but they avoid saying anything about your weaknesses. Overall that's a great thing, although it can leave you blind to the areas you could easily improve. (Check out the article for details.)
Your peers can be a different story. The more you grow and the faster it happens, the more someone won't like part of your dancing, your attitude or your hair style. If it's not your dancing, it's who they think you are dating, how you think you're better than the rest or that your "being nice" is just so fake.
The strongest dancers get the most praise and the most criticism. If you start getting more attention, some will feel threatened, jealous or sick to their stomach because they thought they'd always be better than you.
If you're seriously working harder than others, you'll pass them in time. If you grow quickly, you'll gather a small subset saying harsh things about you, whether you deserve it or not.
Some feel better about themselves by finding something that's your work-in-progress area.
My advice: Ignore most critics, keep on going, but don't get a big head about your progress. Be nice to everybody possible, and let the critics say what they will. A few people will never be happy with you, especially as you grow into the above average group.
If you are working like crazy and improving, there's no reason to be a snob. Even the best have plenty of room to grow. Find a couple mentors you can trust to tell you the truth, but otherwise ignore the few critics and keep on working it.
In other words, take it as a badge of honor if you have a few running their mouths about you. It means you're strong enough that somebody is paying attention. Everybody encourages the beginners, they don't threaten anybody.
Occasionally you should check with someone you trust in the scene, probably an instructor type. Ask them if the critics actually have some decent feedback you can use, but discard the rest. You certainly want to verify you're not blind to issues you could address, but most of the time it's just noise you don't need. It's just like high school all over again, with adult drama.
Social dancing is a great vehicle for improving yourself. Part of that growth includes developing a thicker skin in terms of criticism.
If you don't have anybody saying something negative about you, you're probably not growing toward your potential. Having a few talking you down is not unique to dancing so don't let it ruin your day.
Head up and move on.
I know a man who thinks a marriage is a fifty-fifty proposition,
which convinces us that he doesn't understand women or percentages.
Originally published in Feb 2009. Revised and updated before republish.
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