I have been a little quiet lately.
There has been a lot going on, and I wanted to give it some time to be resolved before I posted.
I don’t think there exists a relationship in the world that is without conflict and certainly the pro/am student/teacher relationship is one of the most difficult to navigate at times.
There is large power imbalance inherent in this relationship as there is money involved, but also because on top of being a student/teacher relationship it is also a partnership as you compete together.
Communication can be tricky as each half of the relationship has their own thoughts and ideas about what is necessary, as well as their own desires and goals. Sometimes, in communicating those things misunderstandings occur and conflict and tension happens. It’s a normal part of any relationship, especially when each party has so much invested in it.
Boss and I have been working and competing together for more than 3 years now. It’s been a rough ride, but also rewarding. When things go well, they go really well. When conflict comes up, it’s usually pretty heated and stressful, and centred around misunderstandings in communication.
The past week has been one of those times.
For a few months now, Boss and I have been butting heads over the subject of competitive practices. We both had different opinions on the purpose of these practices, their usefulness and above all their frequency. On top of that, Boss had forgotten that before I went overseas he had told me we would practice on October 30th, and was surprised when I expected that practice to happen (and it didn’t).
One of the biggest problems with this is that even though we had different views on the practices, neither one of us was really communicating those views to each other. Then, as things did or didn’t occur as we each expected, there was a lot of confusion and stress.
Last night, my lesson was not a lesson but a very heated discussion that finally resulted in what seems to be, at least I hope, a final resolution to the question of practices. On top of discussing practices, we also worked through some of the underlying issues, one of which is communication.
Boss and I generally communicate a lot. It’s very important to me, because of the amount of time, effort and money I invest in my dancing that I understand the big picture of what I am learning and how that contributes to my goals. I am a very goal-oriented person and my goals help to motivate me and knowing how everything I am doing fits into the bigger picture helps me to feel comfortable with how much I am investing in my dancing. It helps me to know that the investment is a good one that benefits me–my health, fitness and largely, my mental well-being.
Boss though finds my need for understanding unusual and at times difficult. He does not know anyone who asks so many questions and needs to know the ‘why’ of what I am doing. He does like that I am communicative as is shows how interested and committed I am to my dancing, but he often doesn’t see the point of providing context and my need for understanding.
We both constantly work on keeping a compromise about this, but like all compromises, it can be difficult. Boss sometimes finds I over-explain things and I sometimes find that I am lacking context or that Boss is dismissive of my concerns. But I think and hope that we are both learning and most certainly our communication has become more effective and efficient over the past 3 years than it was when we first started working together.
So, lots was worked out last night, or so it seemed. My only disappointment is that it took more than a week for us to finally be able to resolve the issue and start talking to each other instead of at each other.
One good thing that seems to have come out of it is an agreement about practices and an understanding of what the goal of the practices is, and what the intentions are with them. Boss finally told me that while he intends to do them as frequently as possible once I have my routines more in my feet, he doesn’t think it will be possible to do them every week. But, he has said that on the weeks where we are unable to do the competitive rounds practice we will take time from the end of my lessons to run through the routines. This makes perfect sense to me and I hope it will be put into practice.
I am glad to have that issue sorted and hopefully behind us. It’s been something outstanding that has been weighing on my mind for quite some time, and really the only thing that has been causing friction between us. With that behind us, I hope we can now keep moving forward with the momentum we seem to have developed.
I have asked Boss if we could discuss the competition in January. I am open to considering it, but in order to commit to it I need to understand what the value of the competition would be, what the goals of the competition would be, and how it would be different from the last competition I did. Before I got sick, I always had a very specific goal for each competition I did, and I chose competitions based on the goal I wanted to achieve and spread them out so that there was enough time between them for something new to be accomplished for each one. After I got sick, the competitions I did were mainly for the sake of doing a competition–to get out on the floor–without anything specific or forward momentum. I want to get away from that approach to competitions and get back to using competitions for the value they bring to my dancing beyond time on the floor.