Gift-giving is custom throughout the year in many cultures. While there is hardly anyone that does not enjoy receiving a gift, it can be tricky to select the right item, especially when you’re not directly connecting with the recipient, colleague, or client on a day-to-day basis in an office or at meetings and events. Gift-giving is a part of our innate, human nature, and has been around for centuries. Understanding the reasons why we gift can help you cement better relationships with your recipients and deliver your intent in a caring, genuine way.
It’s in our DNA
The giving and receiving of presents is so fundamental to humanity that it may be hardwired into our DNA: Scientists have found that our closest primate cousins, bonobos and chimpanzees, give each other gifts of food and tools. Over time, gifting has remained universal, even as our traditions, rules, and superstitions of individual cultures have evolved. Similar to ongoing present times, our on-site gifting has pivoted to virtual gift experiences to make it easier for clients to deliver gift programs – even amidst a global pandemic.
It helps us build relationships
In many countries, like America, gift-giving is an opportunity to appreciate, motivate, and celebrate your recipients. Aspirational gifts complement your recipient’s lifestyles and enhance their everyday. While inadequate gifts, such as gift cards, cash, branded merchandise, or tchotchkes, say ‘I made an effort, sort of.’ When a group of President Truman’s fellow Missourians wanted to honor his accomplishments, they gifted the White House a bowling alley. When the French wanted to strengthen bonds with the United States, they sent a massive copper structure we now call the Statue of Liberty. When Human Resources rewards and recognizes an employee for a job well done, they send a virtual gift experience. When a Sales director is looking to thank a returning client, they give them a choice to select a gift they want and partner with Cultivate.
Across the globe, and throughout history, gifting has played a central role in strengthening our international and interpersonal relationships and continues to do so today. Even while more people than ever are working remotely, you can still connect with others and build relationships through shared experiences.
It helps us deliver intent
Our perception of gifts is shaped by the intent behind them, according to Dr. Ellen Langer, a professor of psychology at Harvard University. “The question is, what are you trying to convey with the gift?” she says. “Are you just trying to check someone off the list? Are you trying to show the person that you care about them?” If you want to show you care, you have to consider how someone will receive the gift. “If you spend a lot of money and buy me an exquisite, first-edition book of French poetry,” she points out, “that’s not going to do a lot for me, because I don’t speak French. It’s not going to make me feel cared for.” The concept of choice invites your recipients to select a gift they want and helps show you genuinely care. Time and time again, we’ve found that when you give someone a gift they want, they’re more likely to experience lasting feelings of appreciation.
What’s more, a gift is never just a gift; it is an extension of oneself. This is true whether two countries are forging diplomatic relations or you’re sending someone a virtual gift experience. So, the next time you are responsible for gift-giving, remember that their gift can help you better reflect the bond you wish to build with another person.