Raquelle Solon, FEI Business Solutions Engineer

Five years ago I moved to the South. The experience has been both rewarding and challenging.

Rewarding in how much Southerners enjoy conversation: Asking after your long-lost Uncle Joe, asking where you’re from so they can connect their experiences to yours, discussing if the weather is too hot, too cold, too foggy, too rainy. . . you get the idea.

But the challenge comes every time there is a hint of “the devil’s dandruff,” also known as snow. Everyone goes into full-blown crisis mode; nary a gallon of milk, bottle of water or loaf of bread can be found for miles.

When we look at this behavior from the standpoint of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which is a key concept in The Mandt System® training, we can understand why this makes sense. Water, food and shelter are all basic needs that people have. Next is the need for safety and security. Safety and security doesn’t just mean physical safety and security; it also means emotional and psychological safety.

When there is a good chance you’ll be stuck in your home for two days to a week due to the ski slopes—sorry, I meant driveways—that are in the Appalachian mountain chain, it makes sense that people would stock up on basic need supplies. Having those supplies available not only provides for the physical need of nourishment and hydration, it also provides for the psychological safety and understanding that someone won’t starve during a snowstorm.

Perception checking is important as well. I’m originally from Packers Country (that’s Wisconsin), and my idea of a snowstorm differs greatly from my Southern neighbors’ perception of such storms. The associated dangers are completely different. It’s crucial to remember each of us brings our own experiences, culture, beliefs and attitudes to every situation we encounter.

While we Northern or Midwesterners may poke fun at my newfound friends and neighbors’ reactions to the harsher side of the winter season, understanding the root cause of the behavior—which is what we strive to accomplish with Mandt—has made me more understanding and empathetic towards them.

I continue to apply the concepts of Mandt not only when training people to become certified instructors, but in my everyday interactions.