“Minnesota Nice” for Non-Minnesotans

For non-Minnesotans reading this blog, first a definition:

“Minnesota Nice” refers to the locals’ custom of being preternaturally pleasant on the surface . . . and seeming to be chilly and unavailable just below.

Non-natives, especially from bigger cities (like New York) invariably find the practice off-putting if not outright annoying; the most common complaint I hear is, “you never know where you stand.”

The runner-up? ‘it’s passive-aggressive.’

Meanwhile, natives like myself understand “Minnesota Nice” for what it is: a collective agreement to . . . be polite, at least on the surface.

How different in principle is that, really, than 100 strangers jammed into a subway car all tacitly agreeing not to make eye contact?

Ultimately, “Minnesota Nice” is really just a regional preference — a “default mechanism” — for managing social interaction on a mass scale.

As such, it’s no better, no worse (and certainly much less confrontational) than social styles in other parts of the country . . . or world.

What would you expect from a couple million, *stoic Scandinavians?? (still the most dominant ethnic heritage locally).

Minnesota Nice & Showing Feedback

So how does “Minnesota Nice” play out between Realtors?

A good example is the showing feedback form that Buyer’s agents are asked to complete after taking a client through a home.

I would say that some variation of the following easily represents 25% of the responses I get from Buyer’s agents on homes that I’m listing (representing the Seller):

How did your Buyer like the home overall? “Good.”

On a scale of 1-10, what was your opinion of the home’s condition? “7”

Floor plan? “8”

What did you think of the home’s price (pick one): Above market/at market/below market (this one always cracks me up) “at market”

Any future interest? “No”

Social Conventions

Obviously, anyone who had continuing interest in my client’s home would be communicating that, in a variety of ways.

So, I don’t take umbrage at the above, or email or call the other agent hostilely asking for more.

I understand it for what it is: a “no thank you” — politely conveyed, to be sure.

*the joke about the long-time local Congressman (and quintessential Scandinavian) Martin Olav Sabo was that he once got so worked up over an issue that . . he almost spoke up about it!

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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