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Do Minnesotans Think You’re Too Frank and Outspoken? Tips for Changing These Perceptions

Jerilyn, the East Coast Transplant Says:
Let’s face it, we tend to speak our minds.  Call it being frank or outspoken - but basically it’s an essential survival skill out East.  But here, “frankly,” it’s a liability.  Even an offense.  You’re not going to get anywhere in this culture if you blurt out your thoughts, rant on your passions, or even just raise your voice.   Granted, you’re not going to lose these traits overnight.  You’re going have to launch a PR campaign to manage Minnesotan’s perceptions of you.

Corey, the Minnesota Native Says...
LIke Jerilyn says, you’re not going to change who you are overnight.  Nor should you.  
But you have to know that we don’t like directness.  We consider it an offense more serious than borrowing your neighbor’s snow blower and forgetting to return it before the next big snow storm.  Here are some things to help you change our perceptions:

Tip 1:  Make your attempt to be less frank or outspoken real.  Look no further than Charlie Sheen for proof on this one.  If you haven’t changed behavior and you’re just trying to manage impressions, your efforts will fail.  You need to believe that changing these behaviors is necessary for you to be successful.  Be motivated and learn what to do differently.  

Tip 2:  Make the change visible to the right people.  Important others (e.g., your manager, co-workers, friends and neighbors) need to notice.  Be planful:  Target new behaviors to contrast old ones; weave them into high-visibility situations with your important others; solidify changes through repetition.   

Tip 3:  Seek support and ask supportive others to go “on-the-record.”  Have them share these testimonials (sparingly) with others.  Example, “I have noticed that (insert your name) is trying to be less outspoken when they disagree with others.”

Tip 4: Ask for feedback.  When you ask others for feedback about a certain behavior, they average their experience and perspective out over how long they’ve known you. Pretend you want to be seen as less frank in e-mail correspondence.  The strategy you pursue involves taking a second look at all outgoing e-mails.  Choose one or two people you trust and tell them – “A personal goal of mine has been to be less direct in e-mail.  Think about the e-mails I’ve sent you in the past month.  What am I doing well?  What can I improve?”  The formula is:  “Think about my [development area] in the past [however long you’ve been working on it]…

Tip 5: Tell them you are trying.  Say “I know I don’t usually ____________, but I am ____________.”   Example, pretend you want to stop pointing out the flaws in our neighbors views about last night’s political debate.  You could say, “I have never been one to avoid pointing out flaws in other peoples views, but I am going to hold my opinion.”    

If you haven’t read “What Exactly is Minnesota Nice” yet, click there and check it out. 

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