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Swedes' Guide to the North: Minnesota Nice

Or passive aggressive. It can go both ways.

In fact, interactions with most Minnesotans lie on the Minnesota Nice Spectrum: on one end, you have genuine kindness. On the other, you have passive aggression.

If you’re among those who are experiencing Minnesota for the first time this week, here’s how you can tell which end of the spectrum your interaction might be on and what you can do to make it better.

First, how do you know?

Long story short, it’s probably not what we said; it’s the way we said it.

If anything you’ve done evokes a phrase delivered with a slightly sassy overtone or, worse, one that you feel was delivered a little too politely for what you know you did, you’ve likely made a Minnesotan unhappy (example: read the last half of that sentence again).

Here is a list of actions that will likely provoke Minnesota Passive Aggressive:

  • Cutting in line.

  • Driving on the shoulder of the freeway in traffic.

  • Not zipper merging.

  • Holding a door open and letting in the cold.

  • Not holding a door open.

  • Taking less than 30 minutes to say “goodbye.”

  • Making fun of our accents with a reference to the movie “Fargo.” (Note: Fargo is in North Dakota. You may take up your concerns with Josh Duhamel).

What can you do to reciprocate genuine Minnesota Nice?

  • Say “please” and “thank you.”

  • Smile.

  • Hold the door open for someone (just minimize the length of time it is actually open).

  • Apologize for things that weren’t your fault.

A word of caution, however. Not all offenses will be treated with Minnesota Passive Aggressive (example: bringing up the most recent Vikings/Eagles game). Up here, “payback” is pronounced “lutefisk.”

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