The tango compliment: a random act of kindness

I was driving behind a bumper sticker which said “Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty” – a slogan supposedly coined by American peace activist Anne Herbert, and it made me think how appropriate it is at any time, but particularly at Christmas… and do some research on the slogan, and compliments.

Tango can produce many of the emotions experienced in traffic – anger, hostility, annoyance, selfishness and even rudeness – but it can also be an uplifting experience. There are many opportunities in tango to give a compliment – and like giving a present a compliment can make both giver and receiver feel a warm sense of satisfaction.

When a compliment is given in the right way it can create positive energy that makes things happen – and creates an easy atmosphere. The recipient of the compliment benefits from knowing that he or she has been noticed and is valued. By complimenting someone on their tango you are creating a positive aura that will bounce back on you and others. Of course the opposite applies. If a dancer is criticised on the dance floor, the bad vibes will also bounce back, undoubtedly affect the victim’s dancing in a detrimental way and probably also affect the critic’s.

For a compliment to be valuable it must be genuine. They work only when they are heartfelt and sincere. When they are not genuine they can backfire – and obviously false compliments can be worse than criticism.

If you are the receiver of the compliment it is important that you receive it in the spirit in which it was given. When I was younger I was very bad at receiving compliments and used to brush them off – now I have learnt to accept them with gratitude, but I don’t always get it right. Compliments are powerful gifts but women can be very bad at accepting the gift gracefully. So if someone says to you “you are an excellent dancer” the answer is “Thank you” - not “oh no I’m just a beginner” or “I love your dress, it looks great” the reply is not “ it’s old, I’ve had it for years” !

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this summer on the tango floor – and off – we genuinely tried to compliment our fellow dancers….I’m going to try to do it more often, will you join me?


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