Southern communication and attitudes

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  • #2398

    Kelly-T
    Participant

    I recently moved to Georgia from Vermont. Immediately my children and I noticed many differences. For example, do Southerners intentionally or unintentionally not listen to what is being said to them? Why is it that when a person makes a mistake on the job (a mistake usually due to being misinformed or uninformed), a coworker will initially assume that you have no clue what you are doing and report it to your immediate supervisor while dismissing a personally-given explanation of the error (behaving as though they don’t believe what you are saying)? Why do Southerners behave as though they don’t believe anything you say unless you prove it? Or is this my imagination? Why do Southerners perceive so negatively and personally? Do Southerners dislike debates or perceive them as a personal attack? Please help! How can I adjust? What interpersonal skill information am I lacking? I am not having much ease or luck working in the South, and it’s affecting my bank account!

    User Detail :  

    Name : Kelly-T, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Agnostic, Age : 36, City : Canton, State : GA Country : United States, Occupation : law enforcement, Education level : 2 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 
    #18321

    Eileen25283
    Participant

    I felt your pain for 10 years, Kelly! I moved to an Atlanta suburb from Connecticut 10 years ago and had similar challenges. The Southerners I met did not like or accept anyone who was different: Yankees, blacks, non-Christians, gays especially. It was a very hateful and miserable experience due to the racism, chauvinism and lack of educational focus and sense of urgency in business. I stayed there for economic reasons, but it was not worth it. To survive, I found friends from the Northeast and tried to find high-tech companies that employed educated people. It’s a tough road, but you can make it if you don’t mind being more passive and accept your role as a submissive woman in the South. I couldn’t handle that, so I moved to San Diego, and it’s wonderful. Everyone is accepting, easy to get along with, and the weather and city are awesome. Good luck, but don’t waste too much time trying to change the ignorant – and start sending your resumes to the other parts of the country.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Eileen25283, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Christian, Age : 33, City : San Diego, State : CA Country : United States, Occupation : writer, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 
    #26141

    Annie23884
    Participant

    I live in the Atlanta area, and there are many people in this part of Georgia who are not Southerners. Many are not native Georgians. It sounds like you are still in shock from your recent move. Also, I suggest that the problem seems to be based at work, according to what you have written. Could it be that you are not suited for this job? Or perhaps there is a cultural environment at your workplace that you have not yet been able to adapt to? I would recommend you speak to your supervisor if you are experiencing hostility from the other employees and see if conflicts can be resolved. If not, perhaps you should try looking for another job. Canton is a smaller town north of Atlanta, and there could be some small-town attitudes in play toward a ‘Yankee.’ I hope these problems can be resolved because I think we live in a fabulous area with great weather. You probably left your snowblower in Vermont.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Annie23884, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Christian, Age : 52, City : Atlanta, State : GA Country : United States, Occupation : Copy editor, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 
    #46369

    VMarsh
    Participant

    FYI: I am from Louisiana (born and raised)and I find that it is the people up North (like NY) that react the way you’re speaking of. Southerners are laid-back, hospitable people. Generally they’re traditionally religious and with exception of those who may have old, negative stereotypical believes as far racism etc… children are raised with high morals and values. Often times we can be too gullible and be taken advantage of but that’s because of our hospitality. Yes, depending on what you do — wages are low generally but the cost of living is a lot less. Now, if you’re a doctor, lawyer, businessman (you get my meaning) then your income may be equal to those in the North. But I totally disagree. Maybe you should move to New Orleans.(smile)

    User Detail :  

    Name : VMarsh, City : NYC, State : NY Country : United States, 
    #44021

    Adam25151
    Participant

    Maybe it’s just a problem with tone. I recently moved from Baltimore to Nashville to go to college. There’s definitely a perception that Yankees are much more aggressive, in-your-face, and standoffish, but I’ve had more luck when I’ve just tried to be polite. Smile, be patient and slow down! I talk too fast for some of the Southern secretaries 🙂 If you take some time to appreciate these differences, you might enjoy the change in scenery. I’ve met some great people from Georgia and even (gasp) Texas. There’s hope for the future.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Adam25151, Gender : M, Age : 18, City : Nashville, State : TN Country : United States, Occupation : Student, 
    #46652

    BPG
    Participant

    I was born and raised in the South. I moved away when I was 25 years old. One of the first things I noticed was that people in other parts of the country tend to be more assertive and willing to say what’s on their minds. Southerners tend to hint at what they are saying rather than coming out and saying it. This is especially true of Southern women, who are expected to be pleasant and demure. An assertive woman who speaks her mind can be quite a shock for Southern men, especially ones from older generations. Unfortunate but true. Southerners also take a while to get used to outsiders. You just have to be patient and take the time to build up social connections. Having said that, I also have to say that I’m not convinced your work problems stem from a ‘southern communication problem’. Your issue, as I understand it, is that people go over your head rather than deal with you personally. In my personal experience, that isn’t a problem unique to the South, but is one encountered in many places. Are you sure the real issue isn’t a personality conflict or a particular individual?

    User Detail :  

    Name : BPG, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Age : 36, City : Grand Junction, State : CO Country : United States, Occupation : professional, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, Social class : Upper middle class, 
    #20342

    Veronica24534
    Participant

    I moved to New Orleans from Maryland 20 years ago and I never had your problems. The problems I had adjusting to the south was: 1. Language–we had just driven into town and all we wanted to do was find a place to eat, shower and go to bed. At the resturant my brother said he wanted an orange soda and the counter person asked him if he wanted and ‘er-ange’ drink. 2. The heat and 3. racism–white on black and black on white. As for what you are writing I don’t think you can say it happens only in the South.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Veronica24534, City : New Orleans, State : LA Country : United States, 
    #46670

    Brandon19398
    Participant

    I was born in South Carolina and have lived here all my 21 years, and I’ve never heard of such rudeness. All i ever hear is that we southerners are culturally very polite. I would say that the people who reported to your supervisors were judicious cowards who think they can brown-nose their way into the managers’ graces. And as for people’s disbelief, I’d have to assume you’re missing some sort of idiomatic speech or something. If anything, I’d have to say southerners are gullible. Now, people may simply also be treating you this way because you’re from Vermont, which is a possibility. All in all, I think you are just around a bunch of jerks.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Brandon19398, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Atheist, Age : 21, City : Columbia, State : SC Country : United States, Occupation : Engineering student, Education level : 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 
    #30244

    Charles32266
    Participant

    Perhaps the Southerners you’re interacting with can sense the almost palpable air of disdain you have for them?

    User Detail :  

    Name : Charles32266, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Agnostic, Age : 24, City : Albuquerque, State : NM Country : United States, Occupation : Architect, Education level : 4 Years of College, Social class : Lower middle class, 
    #33453

    Mark22089
    Participant

    I grew up in Nashville, not exactly a small town, and I noticed a peculiar thing: whenever my mother wanted a plumber to come and fix things, she would switch from her normal, non-accented English (or ‘American English’) into a Southern drawl. If she didn’t do it, the plumbers thought that she was some uppity bitch, would be late, and would try to cheat her. The more rural I got, the more that kind of phenomenon would repeat itself. Southerners don’t like Northerners, as a general rule, and all of the behavior you’ve described comes from people having decided they don’t like you. On the flip side, Southerners also value privacy and delicacy in conversation, and many direct methods of communication, such as the blunt question, are often met with irritation and as much dodging as possible. Information exchange is a give and take, and does not happen without some dancing around the topic. If you debate, if you contradict or go head-to-head, you run the risk of being labeled a bitch (as you might have noticed anyway), as being far too strong for a woman in that society. Men can get away with (and are expected to), and that kind of behavior from a woman is not considered polite or even acceptable. If you insist on living there, try finding a church or something to attend, to become part of the community around you. Learn the fine arts of communication misdirection and inference, rather than having direct confrontation. I could do neither thing, which is why I left.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Mark22089, Gender : M, Age : 26, City : LA, State : CA Country : United States, Occupation : programmer, Social class : Upper middle class, 
    #42479

    Jessica H.
    Member

    I think that (not knowing you) a large part of your problem is perception or communication. I moved from Montana to Georgia (and unfortunately returned) and didn’t encounter any of the problems you’re listing. Perhaps it’s the way you come across – are you loud and outspoken, or quiet and softspoken? are you flamboyant, or do you blend in with the woodwork? Try to spend a few days going against your norm and model behaviour and style after theirs. Perhaps that will clue you in to what differences are building the barrier between them and you.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Jessica H., Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Bisexual, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Christian, Age : 19, City : Miles City, State : MT Country : United States, Occupation : Student, Education level : High School Diploma, Social class : Lower middle class, 
    #17854

    Brad
    Member

    I lived in Georgia from the time I was 11 until the time I was 24. All I can really say is, it’s a mixed bag. You live out in the country (relatively speaking), where there’s not much of a metropolitan attitude. The stereotypical southerner is small-minded, ignorant, and unwilling to change. But not all of them are like that. It’s just a mixed bag. I’d advise that you try and relocate to the metro Atlanta area, but that’s just me – I like civilization and diversity.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Brad, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Agnostic, Age : 24, City : Richmond, State : VA Country : United States, Occupation : Technical Support, Education level : High School Diploma, Social class : Lower middle class, 
    #25458

    Anna
    Member

    you have my sympathies! I grew up in New Hampshire and moved to Atlanta my first year of high school, then back the following year. it was easily the most difficult, painful thing i’ve ever done. i think probably a big piece of what you’re dealing with is just culture shock in general. moves are hard under the best of circumstances, but i think north to south has to be one of the most extreme contrasts in culture. the stress of that, combined with homesickness, tends to create a sort of antagonistism towards the new setting. I had the same problem when I moved to Atlanta. I hated everyone we met at first, they seemed to candy-coat their bullshit with this gross fake niceness. i despised it, i hated how no one seemed real. but after a while, after you’ve met lots of different people, i think the ratio of awful people to neat people works out to be roughly the same in most places. and the neat might be different than the neat in the place where you came from, but that’s good. and the awful might seem more awful than the place where you came from… but it’s easy to idealize old homes, old comforts and familiarities. your kids might be finding this out in school. i adjusted a lot quicker with a huge pool of people to tap into than my father, who worked, and my mother, who never worked and never adjusted. The last thing, though, is that I’m not sure how rural Canton is, and that might play a big role in seeing eye-to-eye or understanding norms. And it’s possible that people are treating you differently because you’re a ‘Yank?’ Atlanta is pretty cosmopolitan, but even there there’s lots of latent anti-northern sentiment. I guess my final response boils down to two parts: first, give yourself some credit for how difficult it is to move. let it be difficult, allow yourself to be sad and frustrated and struggling (just dont stay there…). and then… don’t stick ‘southerners’ onto every jerk you encounter. jerks will be jerks, but i’m sure there are lots of neat people where you are, too. maybe finding some would help you adjust. (hobby clubs, book groups, etc, blah blah) and good luck! really i identify so strongly with your difficulties, my heart goes out to you. i hope any of this helped in even the smallest way.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Anna, Gender : F, City : Rutland, State : VT Country : United States, Social class : Middle class, 
    #15680

    Shelley
    Member

    As a Southerner, I’ve spent my whole life telling people that I do, indeed, wear shoes, that I don’t hate black people, and that I don’t eat grits. I think Southerners are defensive with Yankees to being with because we’ve been told for so long that we’re ignorant and inferior. There are some definite communication differences in the South. No, we don’t like debates unless we know you really well. The way Yankees debate comes across as rude to us. Being polite is one of the most valued Southern traits, which means that we may not say what we think directly to your face– and it can be frustrating even to those of us who understand it. And as to the myth that Southern women are submissive– we are anything but! We just choose to express our power in a different way– namely, we are polite to your face, but we do whatever we want anyway. I consider myself a feminist, but as a Southern woman, I always have my nails polished and my handbag always matches my shoes. I think your main problem with Southerners is that you miss your home, and you think your home is superior. And that comes across to the Southerns you interact with, who are already on their guard because you’re from Up North. By the way, if I met you, I probably wouldn’t appreciate your attitude either.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Shelley, Gender : F, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Agnostic, Age : 22, City : Lexington, State : KY Country : United States, Occupation : Writer, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, Social class : Lower middle class, 
    #36748

    Kenneth26452
    Participant

    Politeness is pounded into us from birth, avoidance of aggression is also. at work, it is a resent trend to allow someone else to assume the responsibility for training, hense the reporting. For my self I would rather help train the new guy, answer any questions and show them how to do the job. It is easier in the long run. I would suggest ask more politely, use less agression, do the best you can, and find some one like me. I get along better with most folks than my co workers. But if you ask too many needless questions of others it is also a bad sign. also remember, we do not talk as much, do not bluff, and collect guns to avoid agression. I have been in bars where you ‘checked’ your gun with the bartender, and picked them up on the way out. Avoid these places if possible. The point I am trying to make is do not needlessly be agressive. Respect others privacy unless they make the first friendly move. and allow them time to get use to you. we are cautious of strangers.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Kenneth26452, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Age : 54, City : Winston-salem, State : NC Country : United States, Occupation : Mechanic, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 
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