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Continued: Minnesota Nice? It's like ice

  • Last update: July 11, 2014 - 6:30 PM

It’s clear that transplants need your help! If you’re a born-and-raised Minnesotan, there are definitely a few things you can do to help your recently arrived neighbors, colleagues and acquaintances.

First, help them understand the culture and how they might adapt. This means that you’ll have to muster your courage and tell them when they step out of line — when they’re too honest or direct — and translate when they are unable to read the passive-aggressive tea leaves.

Second, transplants would be so very thrilled if you would invite them over for dinner sometime or even just out to an event. Otherwise, life in Minnesota can be dreadfully lonely. Even though you’ve had your best friend since kindergarten and even though you still go drinking with your buddies from high school, meeting new people is good for you. It stretches you and will keep you young! Try it!

And third, newcomers beg you for your patience as they learn to navigate Minnesota Nice and adapt. They will step on toes. They will get you miffed. They will miss all the cues you’re sending about how you really feel or what you really want. Please cut them some slack and throw them a lifeline once in awhile.

Now, for those reading who are transplanted here in Minnesota — take heart! You’re not alone! Many, many transplants we have talked to feel lonely, confused by why they can’t make deep friendships or puzzled by behaviors that don’t yet make sense to them.

The best strategy we hear the most from transplants is to keep trying. Keep reaching out, keep asking people to do social things, keep joining groups. What might have taken six months in your last state could require two or three years in Minnesota. Muster your patience. Find other newcomers. Check out the Minnesota transplants group at Check out our chapter, “Make Friends: Yes it’s Possible” for free at

And transplants, by all means, keep a lid on your anger and even on your enthusiasm. If you notice people pulling back or seeming uncomfortable, work to lower your intensity level. Likewise, be careful with confrontation. Deal with issues one-on-one whenever possible and vet new or controversial ideas outside of meetings. Become a detective. Listen intently, not just to the words but to body language and subtle nuances in speech and behavior. This will help you enormously as you try to understand passive-aggressiveness and to respond constructively.

Our ultimate advice to you is to do what you can to adapt, but don’t give up your core values and personality. Try to find the sweet spot where you can move a little closer to the Minnesota norm without moving too far from yourself.

So the next time you’re at a red light and the car in front of you doesn’t move when the light turns green, instead of laying on the horn, just tap lightly on it once. Or the next time your neighbor loans you a leaf blower, take the time to be effusive with your thanks. Make people feel good about their generosity, instead of saying “thanks” and moving on with your lawn maintenance.

Finally, if you feel extremely challenged by living in Minnesota, you may need change your focus. Find a notebook, open up a text file on your computer, or make a deal to communicate daily with a Facebook friend and challenge yourself to find three things you like about Minnesota or Minnesotans each and every day. Just three things!

It might be the drive around the beautiful chain of lakes as you go to the gym, or your helpful neighbor who brought your garbage to the curb when you were on vacation. Doesn’t matter how large or small, just take the time to begin tipping the scales toward gratitude for the wonderful aspects of living in Minnesota. It will recharge your battery.

Our e-book and website are full of strategies to help transplants survive and even thrive here in Minnesota. We even have a “Minnesotan’s Corner” on the website just for you natives.


Jerilyn Veldof and Corey Bonnema are Twin Cities-based trainers and consultants who work at the University of Minnesota. Veldof was born and raised in New Jersey and has lived in upstate New York and Arizona. Bonnema is a Minnesota native.

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