Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Is Connecticut really that unfriendly?

I'm a proud nutmeger. Born and breed in the state of Connecticut. Like many other states across this nation, you'll find the good, bad, and the ugly.

Despite my fondness for my home state. I also like to travel. One of the things that I've been hearing over the years and hearing more often than not is that people from Connecticut and the tri-state in general are we're not very friendly people. On quite a few occasions I will get a backhanded compliment like, "Are you really from the northeast, you're pretty friendly." I smile and accept it, but it got me thinking. Are we really that unfriendly?

Since I was a kid I was used to hearing this about New Yorkers and it's a generalization that some even embrace. However, I've met plenty of New Yorkers that have demonstrated friendliness and kindness to me. I didn't realize other folks around the country felt this sentiment toward Connecticut.The state was recently profiled as having two of the unfriendliest cities in the country. What's your guess? If you guessed Hartford and New Haven you would be right.

Since Conde Naste Traveler released their "The 2015 Friendliest and Unfriendliest Cities in the U.S.," Hartford and New Haven have become infamous for making this year's list. When I saw the article pop-up in my Google Plus news feed I said to myself, "Hot mess," but then had to see it. It wasn't just me either. Local media had a field day with it too. While I like to see my home state making headlines, it's not when two of the states largest cities are considered unfriendly places. This can't be good for tourism in the state.

Here's the photo caption for New Haven:

"Ranked fifth in 2014, New Haven remains an anomaly: "An extremely rough town" with "questionable public safety," it's also home to one of the country's top Ivy League schools, Yale University. "The contrast between the academic wealth and local poverty is poignant," to say the least. As a visitor, start by exploring the "nine squares" of the campus, where you'll find "great architecture, a surprisingly good restaurant scene, world-class museums, and great theater."

Hartford's caption:

"Rebounding slightly from no. 3 last year, Connecticut's "forgettable" state capital "shuts down at night" and is considered "dreary, especially when it rains or snows." "It definitely needs a facelift!" Unforgiving complaints and "seedy sections" of the city aside, "it appears to be trying to rejuvenate itself." The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts and the Hartford Stage "host traveling Broadway shows and critically acclaimed plays." "Elizabeth Park's rose garden is wonderful" and the "river walk with its cultural and food festivals" are worth a visit."

Although Hartford had a slight improvement I think the state can do better and the citizens living here should want to do better to change this perception. I came up with a short list to help the cause. Here are four things my fellow state residents can do to be more friendly to others:

  • Smile -  It's a simple way to acknowledge someones presence and show the person you're happy, you may just give the person you're smiling at a reason to smile back.
  • Being Approachable - Don't physically close yourself off. Body language experts suggest not crossing your arms, holding your hands, or looking away from people.
  • Ask people questions about themselves - It's not all about you. Showing genuine interest in others helps people to open up and get a conversation going.
  • Compliment a person - If you don't anything nice to say than don't, but if you do go ahead and compliment a stranger. You will make them feel better and you may feel better too!
These tips may not change the perceptions of Hartford and New Haven overnight, but we have to start somewhere, right?

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