Joel and Clara Marasigan

Making an ASSumption Out of You and Me


As the Snowball Classic draws near, many people are feeling the pressure of competing at this important local event.  Here’s one main ingredient that causes tensions to rise and emotions to flare at this  stressful time.  Please read this article, keep your cool, and have a positive and productive practice…

Making an ASSumption out of You and Me

Making an ASSumption out of You and Me

There is one thing that my Dad always taught me when I was younger, that has stuck with me to this day.  I’m sure many of you have heard this saying before…  “When you assume, you make an ass out of u and me.”   (Sorry about the slang!)

As we have all probably experienced at one point or another, assumptions can cause a lot of trouble.  Whether you were the one to make the assumption, or you were the unlucky person who was the target of a false assumption, I’m sure you have experienced the often disastrous result.  What makes it even more frustrating is that it very easily could have been avoided in the first place.

Over the years, I have learnt to avoid two main assumptions:  the first being Intent, and the second being Feelings.  According to Wiktionary, to assume is ‘to suppose something without proof’.  In terms of Intent, it is impossible to know for sure what someone’s reasoning behind doing something is, unless of course they tell you directly.  In terms of Feelings, although it may seem easier to read, I would argue that there is still no way of knowing exactly what someone else’s feelings are.   Sure you can guess based on one’s actions, words and body language, but unless they express it to you verbally, you are still making an assumption.

A lot of people ask me how Joel and I manage to get along so well on and off the dance floor.  I have to say that avoiding the two assumptions that I mentioned above is definitely the key.  Both Joel and I try not to assume what one another is feeling; nor do we assume ‘why’ one another has said or done something.  If the assumption pops into our heads, we immediately confront the other person and try to clarify the situation.

I cannot stress enough that this is very important for a dance partnership.  In fact, I will give a few common examples of when these situations arise…

Man says to lady:  “You are heavy.”
Lady doesn’t say anything and looks upset.

In this scenario, the lady tries to fix herself, thinking that the man is telling her that she is off balance.  At the same time, she is not very happy, as she has been trying her best, and he seems to be putting all the blame on her.

First of all, there are many reasons why a lady could feel heavy.  One could be that she is improperly aligned/off balance and therefore putting pressure on the man’s hand, arms and back.  Another reason could be that she is not responding fast enough.  (For example, if the man is going backwards and the lady is not coming forwards fast enough, she could feel heavy).  Another possibility is that the man’s frame tightened, decreasing the amount of space for the lady, therefore putting her off balance, resulting in her feeling heavy.

Here’s how I would picture the scenario without assumptions.

Man says to lady:  “You feel heavy at the end of the natural turn.  Do you feel that I am affecting your balance there?”

Lady says to man:  “Maybe.  Perhaps you can give me a little bit more space through your frame, and I will try to be more balanced myself this time.”

In this scenario, the man expresses his feelings and does not assume that it is the lady’s fault.  Sometimes it is indeed one person that has lost their balance, but more often than not, the issue at hand can be resolved and improved by both parties.  The lady in this scenario does not assume that the man is blaming her, and she does not assume that it is solely the man’s fault.

Here’s another one:

Lady says to man:  “Stop pulling me!”
Man says to lady:  “I’m not pulling you.”

In this scenario, both parties are upset.  The man is upset because the lady is accusing him of doing something that he doesn’t think he’s doing, and the lady is upset because the man is not validating her feelings.

An even worse scenario would be:
Lady says to man:  “Stop pulling me!  You are purposely trying to take me off balance.”
Man looks confused and says to lady:  “I’m not pulling you.”

In this even worse scenario, the lady is assuming Intent.  She is assuming that the man is being malicious and is purposely trying to do things wrong.  Instead of believing the good in people, she is imagining the bad and making the whole situation worse.

Here’s how I would picture the scenario without assumptions.

Lady says to man:  “I feel that you are pulling me on step 1 of the Spin Turn.”
Man says to lady:  “I also feel that I am having to pull you.  Could you try moving forwards a little sooner?
Lady says to man:  “Sure. ”
It still doesn’t work…
Lady says to man:  “Could you also try relaxing your frame a little bit as we go into step 1?”
Man say to lady:  “Sure.”

In this scenario, the lady expresses her feelings and specifies exactly where and when it happens.  The man offers a possible solution.  The lady agrees and then suggests another alternative solution.  No one feels to blame because both parties are helping to rectify the situation in a positive manner.

These are of course just a couple of examples.   The main point is not to ASSume.  Don’t assign blame, because that would mean that you are assuming that you know all the answers.  On the other hand, don’t assume that your partner is blaming you, as he or she may just be stating his or her feelings about something.  And above all, don’t assume the worst in people.  You are on the same team.

I could go on and on…  but I won’t.  Let’s just keep it simple.

Avoid trouble, avoid misunderstandings, and avoid unwanted grief.  Don’t ASSume.  Communicate.  Make things clear and ask direct questions.   That’s the key to creating a positive and productive dance partnership.  After all, dancing should be fun!

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