Navigating Minnesota Nice

 

Corey Bonnema and Jerilyn Veldof are professional training consultants whose work has often led them to interpret local culture for transplants, in the workplace and beyond. Their book, Minnesota Nice? A Transplant’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving in Minnesota, offers firsthand accounts and advice.

“When it comes to hearing bad things about Minnesota, [the natives] just don’t want to hear it. One of the downsides is how closed off they can be—even if they don’t intend to be. Every time my friends mention this to Minnesotans they are like, ‘Are you sure?’ The ones who aren’t in denial are ones who’ve lived elsewhere or have spouses or close friends that came from elsewhere.”
—Ellen, Minnesota native

“Once you’re accepted, then it’s good. Until then you are suspect. You get a feeling like you’re not quite part of things. You kind of think you are, but there’s always this feeling that you can’t quite shake. For me it wasn’t until last year that I got full acceptance in my spouse’s family. That’s after nine years.”
—Sara, Minnesota native

“Ask for feedback, pad your statements with niceties, check in often, phrase confrontational conversations with lots of ‘I statements,’ and ask directly for flexibility, help, and patience on their part as you learn to navigate MN Nice. Also, trust your ‘spidey-sense.’ If something feels off in a social situation, it most likely is.”
—Anonymous Minnesota transplant

“For a lot of employees who work in other countries, their view of the United States is mostly based on their experience with us in Minnesota … You would hear a Chinese employee you are talking to say ‘you betcha.’”
—Charlene, Minnesota native

“Minnesotans have a strong live-and-let-live mentality. This is the belief that all should be able to live their lives in the manner they want to, regardless of what other may think of them. Minnesota passing the
same-sex marriage bill is an example. They don’t want to get involved in the lives of others nor think
it is their right to.”
—Jane, Minnesota transplant

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