Minnesota Nice

Original Release: 7/10/2009

What was said? Oh he’s sooooo Minnesota Nice.

Did someone really say that? Ya… that was seriously said to me in a meeting last week.

What does it mean? Basically… when someone is nice to your face but apparently doesn’t mean it. Who new Minnesotans were such assholes?

ORIGIN: Minnesota nice is the stereotypical behavior of long-time Minnesota residents to provide hospitality and courtesy to others. The term is also sometimes used in a derogatory way, to connote a sort of smiling stubbornness, forced politeness, false humility or passive aggressive hostility of people in the Upper Midwest region.

Stereotypes of Minnesotans often overlap with qualities of other people from the Upper Midwest, including the perception that many are quiet and do not wish to offend others or cause a disruption, even if it’s for their own benefit. Writer Garrison Keillor played with this image in a piece written for the radio program A Prairie Home Companion called “Wobegonics”, the supposed language of Minnesotans which includes “no confrontational verbs or statements of strong personal preference, you know.” Sometimes area residents who move away, or otherwise come in contact with others who don’t subscribe to the ideal, say that they have to shed their “Minnesota nice” in order to interact properly with others or get out of troublesome situations. The generosity of state citizens has gained respect—the heavily-reported influenza vaccine shortage of fall 2004 did not strike the state as hard as elsewhere since many people willingly gave up injections for others.

Minnesota Nice is also the title of a 2003 28-minute documentary by Jeffrey Schwarz about the Coen brothers’ movie Fargo, a movie that displays some of the stereotypical behavior.

Another definition of “Minnesota nice” is to be passive aggressive. Ex: “I’m Minnesota nice. When I’m angry at someone, I don’t let them know. I just smile pleasantly to his or her face and then proceed to talk about them behind their back. I will most likely hold a grudge too. ”


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