It’s that time of year… ? Regardless of whether you celebrate Christmas, we communicate a lot with our gifts, don’t we?
Here’s a Q: How confident are you with your gift-giving? In this email, you’ll get help with both: GIFT-GIVING and CONFIDENCE !
You can skim this email or click on the links to earn more. Let’s do this!
? THE GIFT-GIVING PODCAST
Gifts are highly symbolic. Gifts communicate things about:
- the GIVER
- the RECEIVER
- their RELATIONSHIP
That’s a lot of communication! And that’s why in this week’s ?podcast we Talk About Gift-Giving!
? WE COMMUNICATE WITH GIFTS
When we understand gift-giving dynamics, we can be better communicators. Researchers in the areas of anthropology, economics, sociology, psychology, and consumer behavior have examined the gift-giving phenomenon in detail. Some of their findings are surprising, some not-so-much:
Gift-giving is Prevalent
- There are birthday gifts, wedding gifts, client gifts, thank you gifts, Christmas gifts, hostess gifts, teacher gifts,…
- Gifts account for an estimated 10% of retail sales. There are even gift stores!
Gift-giving is highly Symbolic
- Gifts communicate things about the giver, the receiver and their relationship.
- Gifts can express all sorts of things, including: interest, power, gratitude, an apology, compatibility (that’s a big one), and gifts can even signal affluence.
- Gift-giving rituals and traditions that are formed by individuals’ culture and personal family upbringing.
Gift-giving is a 3-Step Process that never ends
- Gift-giving is a “self-perpetuating system of reciprocity” (Russell Belk)
Gift-giving can cause Anxiety
- A strong evaluative component exists at every stage of the gift giving process.
- Encoding and decoding errors of the symbolism in gift-giving are common.
- The need to reciprocate can cause feelings of obligation and guilt. A few examples of people who may be exempt include work subordinates, wait staff, students, teachers, monks, and transients. Unless you’re one of these, you’re likely obliged to reciprocate.
- There is always an expectation that the receiver will be gracious…
? RATIONAL GIFT GIVING
Is there a way to think about gift-giving in a more rational way? YES!
Consider two ways of evaluating gifts:
- SENTIMENT – how personal is the gift? Is it thoughtful? Did it take a lot of effort to procure or create the gift?
- SUBSTANCE – the $$ cost or value of the gift.
Based on these two factors, we can create a 2×2 GIft-Giving Matrix, with Sentiment on the x-axis and Substance on the y-axis:
You have probably received gifts in each of these quadrants. Most people think the top right corner is most desirable, right? Well, NO. According to research:
- Receivers typically do not appreciate the extremes –
- ⛔️too expensive or too cheap
- ⛔️too much thought & effort or no thought & effort
- ✅People generally prefer gifts somewhere in the middle
- The most appreciated gifts are low substance and high sentiment –
- ✅ Gifts in the the bottom right quadrant are the most appreciated – you know – the homemade gifts from the ❤️heart?
It REALLY is “the thought that counts!”
? Gift-Giving Relief
Based on the gift-giving research, here are some things we can worry LESS about:
We should worry less about how much money we spend.
- See “Rational Gift-Giving” section above.
- Low substance, high sentiment gifts are appreciated – it really is the thought that counts!
We should worry less about buying “typical” gifts.
- Research indicates that women really do ❤️jewelry and men ❤️electronics. (Check and check. You’re welcome.)
We should worry less about buying from gift registries and wish lists.
- Have you ever tried to think of a gift that your friends might like at least as much as the stuff on their registry or their wish list? (Yes, so have I!) Apparently, that was a waste of time.
- According to the research, people who create gift registries almost always prefer something from their registry, versus something else. So don’t over-think it. Just buy something from the registry. Got it? Now we know.
? On CONFIDENCE
I hope you’re feeling more confident about your gift-giving now. Please let me know what you think of the gift-giving podcast!
If you haven’t had a chance yet, I hope you will read 5 Things You Can do to Communicate with CONFIDENCE:
That’s it for this week!
Have a fantastic week.
Dr. Andrea Wojnicki
Chief Talker & Communication Coach
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