Gift giving is essentially about establishing and maintaining relationships. We give gifts to acknowledge someone’s life (birthday), accomplishment (graduation), new beginnings (baby) and many other reasons for celebrations or sometimes even condolences. Even when we give obligatory gifts, such as a holiday present to Aunt Emily whom we rarely see but who expects a gift), we are still recognizing the importance of that relationship. Otherwise, we would ignore the tradition.
It’s About Relationships
Even though knowing why we give is important, the way we receive gifts is an integral part of sustaining those relationships, and working on your gratitude attitude can enhance your personal and professional presence and ultimately your influence. Making someone feel good about the effort he or she made to give you a gift can go a long way toward creating a positive and lasting impression.
Obviously, we all know the rules about saying thank you and writing a thank-you note, but have you considered the follow-up thank you that can occur after you have had an opportunity to use the gift? When you let the person know after the fact that you are enjoying and appreciating the gift, makes the time and effort that he or she spent selecting, preparing, and delivering the present even more worthwhile. For example, you might say to a friend, “I enjoyed that book so much that I shared it with a colleague at work who likes that author.” Or, “Here’s a photo of the flowers that you sent. They have remained lovely for more than a week.” “The RFID blocking wallet that you gave me makes me feel much safer when I’m traveling.” What if you hated the gift or have no use for it? In that case, your initial thank you and appreciation of the person’s intentions are sufficient. Don’t try to fake it. If your response isn’t genuine, it will come across as contrived or inauthentic.
Gift Card Gratitude
Gift cards are a popular method of gift giving today, particularly if one isn’t sure what to give a person or you don’t want your gift to be late for the special occasion. However, the gift card’s convenience to both giver and receiver is sometimes offset by its impersonal nature. Consequently, we often overlook an opportunity to show our appreciating by simply accepting the gift card, thanking the giver for the gesture, and letting that be the end of it. Consider circling back and letting the giver know what you did with the card. An Instagram photo of your purchase or an attachment to a text message can let your colleagues at work know how you spent their collective birthday gift. Or, you can send an email saying, “I had one of the best meals ever with the gift card you gave me from Canyon Restaurant. The chef’s specialty was outstanding.”
Taking a few moments to reinforce someone’s thoughtfulness can make that person feel appreciated and also reinforce your sense of gratitude for someone’s gesture. In an age often characterized by divisiveness and stress, actions that validate each other and bring people closer together are well worth the time and effort.