Barriers to Living and Working in Minnesota Culture

Here's what transplants in Minnesota are saying are their biggest barriers:

  • The biggest barrier is my naturally bold personality. I am an extroverted, bold, passionate, easily excited woman. I am sociable and persistent. I know that persistence and advocacy are considered leadership skills in some places, but not where I am here. At work colleagues have given me constructive criticism because I am too much of an advocate or get too exciting in pursuing something for the people I support. I feel like I am discouraged from speaking because I am a woman, but also because I am living in Minnesota. I am really struggling with this internally right now. It's not necessarily something that is negatively impacting my work, but it's not helping me. I work with a lot of introverts and I need to find a way to be less intimidating to them. (30-something female in the education field who moved here between 2006-2010)
  • Smile to my face and back talk and gossip, which always get back to me, and therefore very passive aggressive; the "I'm not sure I can talk to you- we don't know you yet" or "We don't know who knows you and what they think about you-- so got to keep distance" and the Big Pink Elephant in the room- everyone knows it's there but no one says a strange. (40-something female from Chicago who works in the education field and moved here in 2013)
  • The phony 'polite/nice behavior; their lack of honest and frank conversation due to their fear of conflict and reserved nature; their lack of interest in anyone outside of their established friendship circle. (40-something male in manufacturing from the Southern US who moved here in 2011-2012)
  • Envy, talking behind your back. (40-something female in the health care field who grew up in Southern US and Hungary and who moved here in 2013)
  • Lack of holding anyone accountable for mistakes because no one wants confrontation.(40-something female in education field who moved here somewhere between 2006-2010)
  • The 2 words I've come to loath after living here are 'traditionally' and 'historically' as every suggestion I've attempted to make is usually answered beginning with one of those 2 words. No one wants to change because they see no need for it. It's definitely a 'Good Housekeeping' kind of state whereas I'm much more along the lines of 'Better Homes and Gardens' because there's *always* room for improvement [whether you grew up here or not]. (same person as above)
  • Very few people in the Twin Cities have ever invited us to their homes after residing here for eight years. When we were, it was an extremely unusual situation like a requirement for your child's school for a family to host. Never an invite like, "Hey, come over for supper." (60-something female in the education field who grew up on the West Coast)
  • There is an immediate dislike that we are from somewhere other than Minnesota. (40-something female in the hospitality industry who has lived in California, Nevada, Colorado, Texas and Alabama)
  • You are expected to put out way more than they ever did to get into the industry you share. They pretend to be more than just a work associate to you during the work day--they can know you are going through a very challenging time---but they will not respond to a message outside of the work day. The worst thing is how they tell you they will get back to you and they simply never do. (50-something female in the education field who moved here from the Southern Midwest in 2013)
  • Disinterest in making a connection with new people and passive aggressive ignoring of the obviously new person in the room; no one will make a move to welcome or acknowledge you. (40-something female from Chicago who moved here in 2011-12)
  • Trying to find a church has been difficult. It seems that the people in this area (Willow Grove) are still living in the 1950's. They sing very old church Hymns. Contemporary Christian music hasn't been played and services are stale. They are wondering why younger people don't come to church......I know why :-). (50-something female in non-profits from the West Coast who moved here in 2013)
  • People act nice and then are passive aggressive and are exceptionally mean behind your back. People love to complain, and generally know how to solve many issues in the workplace, but then when you actually ask them to do something to fix a problem, no matter how minor... no one actually wants to do anything! (30-something male from the East Coast who moved here in 2011-12)
  • Here's what I think are the top 3 barriers: Resistance to change/inability to change/inability to think differently; passive aggressiveness; strong Christian culture.  (30-something female in the manufacturing field who is originally from Minnesota but has lived in Colorado and Oregon.  Her job brought her back to MN a few years ago) 
  • I believe I've been passed over for positions due to not being from the area. I was hired by a manager who is from California. If she had been from Minnesota, I don't think I would have been offered the job. (40-something female in health care from the West Coast who moved here in 2011-2012)
  • People are indirect and I often have to second guess their responses to what I say. (50-something female in education field who just moved to MN from the East Coast in 2011-13))
  • It's not Minnesota Nice, it's Minnesota Ice. The initial wave of hospitality that always gives way to guarded arms length friendship. Natives seem skeptical of what the rest of the country has to offer by comparison and that attitude can be very off-putting.  Finally, this is easily the least culturally diverse and subtly racistt area I've lived in the last 20 years. For as progressive a culture as the Twin Cities supposedly fosters, we have never found that to be the case. (Male in the manufacturing industry who has lived in many regions of the US in addition to the UK and Canada and who moved here between 2000-2005).
  • Minnesotans are fearful and intimated of new people and food and have preconceived ideas about other places.  (50-something female who moved to MN in the 1990’s)
  • In business setting, they are not straight-forward and don't like to change a result, they fail. (40-something male in the public utility industry from South Korea who moved to MN in the 1990’s)
  • Minnesotans are the classic passive-aggressive model that can be maddeningly frustrating.  (Same male in the manufacturing industry mentioned above who has lived in many regions of the US in addition to the UK and Canada and who moved here between 2000-2005)
  • Surprisingly I thought it would be the weather that would drive me out, but it's not.  The culture is just too different for me to adjust to.  When I went to Central America I adjusted to the culture in a month or two, but here it's just not working.  I really need people in my life and it's just not going to happen here. (40-something male in sales who has lived in the western suburbs for about 15 years. Previously he lived in Washington state and Oregon and is originally from Los Angeles. He plans to leave Minnesota when his children turn 18.)
  • When you suggest a change to a colleague and they just say, "Yeah, that's a question for So and So," feel the cliff? I do! My MN husband says they're just being respectful of each person's interests. I don't get it. Seems like a hidden message underlying there, aka "I don't agree" or "It's not worth the effort" or "You're overstepping your boundaries" which I'd much prefer be told to me directly.  (40-something female in education field)
  • Managers here procrastinate.
     (40-something male in education field who moved to MN prior to 1980)
  • People would rather be "nice" but lying through their teeth rather than being honest and offending someone.   (40-something female, grew up in Germany and moved to MN in the 1980s)
  • I have found Minnesotans to be closed off, unfriendly and generally unwilling to engage in conversation. I live in a cul-de-sac, which would typically lend itself to neighborly conversations, but not here. My neighbors do not speak or wave to my husband or me. We are definitely outsiders here.  (Same 40-something female in healthcare mentioned above from the West Coast who moved here in 2011-2012)

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