Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Do you have any friends or family who don’t like to have difficult conversations that need to be had?

Sometimes, when there is a problem, it’s tempting to want to pretend nothing is happening to try to avoid a tense conversation.

Politicians and their staff often do this, and so do many of us when something feels uncomfortable.

Instead of being direct when asked a question or giving a speech, they tend to dance around the issues.

Today we are going to talk about what it means to “dance around” something.

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Understanding The Context

What does it mean when somebody says that they are dancing around something?

It basically means to avoid something–think literally of dancing around something.

Now take that to another level and think of that in the context of trying to “dance” around a problem or topic.

It means to avoid the problem, issue, or negative situation for a variety of reasons.

It can also mean to come close to something that’s obvious but you don’t actually bring it up because it makes you feel negative or anxious.

There are many reasons why you might dance around something, and that’s important to understand.

Looking At This In Conversation

It may sound unusual to you until you start to use it in everyday conversation.

You want to focus on how it sounds in a sentence and where it really fits.

Let’s look at some examples of this because it can make it much clearer how it is used.

  • “Whenever I bring up taking our relationship to the next level, she dances around the issue. It’s like she doesn’t want to talk about it.”
  • “It’s not good to dance around problems –it’s way better to talk them out.”
  • “Stop dancing around the question! You can’t avoid talking about this forever.”

So you see, these phrases help you to understand what it looks like and sounds like in everyday conversation.

Other Similar Phrases

Sometimes it helps to know what other options you may have to use in a similar sentence.

It’s nice to have options to say the same sort of thing.

What other phrases can you use that are similar?

  • Elephant in the room: This is to say that there is something that people don’t want to talk about. It’s right there and everyone is aware of it, and yet nobody really wants to talk about it. This subject may be quite uncomfortable.
  • Beat around the bush (this is slightly different): This means that you are trying to come up with other things to talk about or say but you are trying to stall. You are trying to buy time and not get into talking about something that is awkward. “If you want to sell the house just say so. Don’t just beat around the bush. I need to know how you feel.”
  • Dodge: It’s as if to say you are trying to avoid or dodge the question or the subject. You can visualize this word and therefore it gives you a good image of you actually trying to avoid something that you don’t want to discuss. “The politician kept dodging the questions, but the reporter was good at making him answer them.”

These phrases are so useful because it allows you to call out this kind of behavior when you see it!

People often avoid hard topics of conversation, so if you need to talk about something and someone doesn’t, you can use these phrases.


There is a time and place to be direct and a time and place to be indirect.

If you are too direct or too indirect at the wrong time it can break the connection–and these phrases help describe these situations.

Know what kind of situation you are dealing with and then you can use the right phrase to cover it.

There may be things that people want to avoid talking about, and now you know exactly how to address that.

If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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