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Friday, 30 August 2019

The Why, When and How of Feedback

When students talk about a recent difficulty which they've been experiencing in tango, one thing we look at is possible causes in their technique.  However, the unknown factor is what their partner at the time may have been contributing to the issue, especially if the student has come to us alone.

If we ask whether they tried to raise it with the partner (at a practica, or in class)
  • typically ladies will not have done so, for fear of bruising an ego  
  • on the other hand, a few men claim that the man is always at 'fault' when something isn't working in the dance!
Unfortunately, neither approach is likely to result in any improvement.  Clearly, open communication is the key to working out what might be happening and how to resolve it.

But when and how?

That's what practicas and classes are for!  The milonga is not the time.

So, how to broach the subject.  Criticizing your partner's technique presumes that you know best, and is most likely to put him/her on the defensive.  The last thing you want to do is hurt your partner's feelings. You want to find a solution together, not lose a friend.  Here are a few possible strategies:
  • "I feel + sensation + describe when it's happening" (Much more useful than saying "You are doing ...")
  • "Something doesn't seem to working.  Could we look at it together?"
  • Ask a teacher for advice together: "We're not sure what's happening here.  Could you take a look?"
Take a look at Veronica's very insightful article about why most advice you get about your dancing is wrong.

Remember, avoiding the issue doesn't help you nor your partner improve your dance.  For a long-term win-win outcome, approach it constructively and respectfully.


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