I recently had a conversation with two people who are non-natives to our small Minnesota town. One has lived here for a number of years and the other moved here in the last year or so. In the course of our exchange, the concept of "Minnesota Nice" came up. While they both acknowledged experiencing firsthand or witnessing this trait in action, the more recent transplant was appalled at how people could be so nice to one's face, only to speak ill of them when they turned their back. Being from the East Coast where people generally do not mince words, it was an eye-opener for him to see such blatant betrayal.
I've always considered "MN Nice" a positive term that conveys the warm, friendly spirit of our citizens; how we come together to support one another, bring meals to those who would benefit from them, politely interact with one another, etc. A quick google search of "Minnesota Nice definition" gave me the Wikipedia definition of the term -
"Minnesota nice is the stereotypical behavior of people born and raised in Minnesota
to be courteous, reserved, and mild-mannered"
- followed by a website dedicated to "Surviving and Thriving in Minnesota Nice". The website, founded by a MN native and a 16 year MN resident from New Jersey even made a little video to elaborate on the definition of MN Nice.
I have to say, that although my initial response was to get defensive,
I found it to be somewhat accurate of the residents of my state.
And even worse, myself!
What it boils down to for me is that to be MN Nice is to be disingenuous. Fake.
And there is no worse adjective I can think of with than that!
Another quick google search on "difference between kind and nice" brought me to this article. An over-simplified paraphrase of the authors sentiments are that a nice person is "externally motivated" and acts nice to win the approval of others, where a kind person is "internally motivated" and acts out of the goodness of his or her heart.
Most of the people I know well and am close to don't fit this new MN Nice definition.
So let's redefine it!
Heck let's rename it!
Instead of being MN Nice, let's all choose to be MN Kind.
Let's be genuine in our interactions.
Don't ask someone how they are or how their holiday was if you aren't interested in the answer.
Lets skip past the pleasantries and small talk, and dig deeper.
Let's mean what we say, and say what we mean.
Let's choose to be the person that people confide in, not the person that people run to for the latest gossip.
Let's help people for the sake of helping them, not for the credit or recognition.
Let's stop bottling up everything and biting our tongues.
This doesn't mean you are entitled to swing to the opposite end of the pendulum.
Just be honest, and share your thoughts and feelings in a real and respectful way.