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12 Tips for Surviving Minnesota Nice

Corey, the Minnesota Native Says...

Minnesota is great place to live! We’ve got great schools, lots of cultural attractions (theaters, museums, music, etc.), a large amount of recreational options and very friendly people. And if you ever get lost someone is always ready to tell you where you need to go (in a good way!).

Jerilyn, the East Coast Transplant Says:
Yeah, these are all great things. But on the other hand we have to contend with this Minnesota Nice stuff that can drive us up a wall. Need some practical tips to survive? These tips are sure to help.

Check out this video if you like moving things or just peruse the list below.

Tip 1: Be polite.  Say “excuse me” and “thank you” multiple times a day. Smile... a lot. Be as nice as you can whenever you can and kill ‘em with kindness.  

Tip 2: Put a lid on it.  Communicate as much as you can without anger seeping around the edges. Don’t be in the least bit scary.  

Tip 3: Do hold people accountable and be firm, but again, do so without anger and irritation.

Tip 4: Find common ground as much as possible, including in non-work related areas. Help them see you’re not a martian from another planet, but someone with common interests, faith or values.  

Tip 5: Help the person come to see the wisdom in your new idea or proposal by pointing out how it might serve their own self-interest or help others.  

Tip 6: Avoid knee-jerk reactions that involve a lot of emotion. Walk away and cool down before re-engaging.  

Tip 7: Try to be a little humble.  Save your bragging for your friends and family back home.

Tip 8: Listen, listen, listen.  Let people finish their sentences before you start yours.  Heck, if you’re really good you’ll even allow for a short pause after they have finished speaking.  

Tip 9: Look beneath the surface.  Things aren't always the way they seem (which is kind of an understatement with Minnesota Nice).  For example, because Minnesotans tend not to be very direct they frequently express feelings as questions. “I wish I had more time to complete this report” might actually mean, “I’m mad at you because you didn’t give me enough time to complete this report.”  

Tip 10: Make it safe for people to offer divergent thoughts and ideas in your meetings.  If you’d like to hear more about ways to do this, please shoot us an email.  

Tip 11: The most important tip: Find a few trustworthy natives and ask them for feedback.  Choose one or two things from this list and ask them to watch for when you do, or don’t do, those things. Ask them to help you adjust to the culture and check back with them frequently so they know you’re serious. Check out Getting Minnesotans to Give you Feedback”.  And if applicable, you can even send your native a copy of “Taming the East Coaster at Work.”   

Tip 12: Learn to deal with passive-aggressive behavior.  Resistance is futile. Check out, “8 Tips for Dealing with Your Passive-Aggressive Colleagues” to get you started.

There's still more!  Get more tips and approaches from your fellow MN transplants!

Get even more tips and approaches to help you in our book, Minnesota Nice? A Transplant's Guide to Surviving and Thriving in Minnesota.  And, if you are a Minnesotan and recognize some Minnesota Nice in yourself jump over to the Minnesotan’s Corner.

© Jerilyn Veldof and Corey Bonnema