Have you ever given someone a gift and been disappointed by the receivers’ reaction? Or have you received a gift, that may have actually been a nice gift, but you were disappointed because it wasn’t what you wanted?
We often get caught up in the talks about how holidays have become so commercialized and it is all driven by big business. Here are a couple of reasons we keep buying into presents.
- We share ourselves in our gifts
Yesterday we had a get-together with a couple of families who we are close with,
and they each have a pile of kids, so we make a gift basket for each other’s families instead of buying for everyone over the holidays. I put A LOT of effort into their family gift this year. I included things like a laminated Life Compass Worksheet (helps people clarify their values), a journal (a gratitude / value based journal), the Ungame (a communication game), encourage/ inspire cards (see www.encourageinspire.ca – the latest winner of the last Learning for Life award for 2015, congratulations Heather!) a table tennis set from the dollar store for us to all play on New Year’s Eve along with candy canes. I also wrote meaningful cards and included one of my favourite quotes from this year in each ( I love quotes). Obviously, because these are things that are near and dear to my heart, and I use them ALL the time both professionally and personally with my own family, I was really excited to see their reactions. Thankfully it was positive, but I suspect I would have been really sad and hurt if it wasn’t.
When we put effort into our gifts, they become are a reflection of who we are, what we value, and our intention. Gifts become a creative project that is intended to communicate something. This is why how people respond to our gifts matters to us when we have put effort into them. We feel as if WE are being rejected when the receiver doesn’t respond favourably because the gift is one way we put ourselves out there, it is a communication about our authentic self.
2. We help people feel SEEN, HEARD and like they MATTER through our gifts
A friend was recently telling me about a time she received a really nice doll for Christmas as a child, but she got upset because it wasn’t the much cheaper doll she had actually asked for.
At the time she didn’t understand why she got so upset, but through our discussion it was clear that it was because she felt not seen, not heard and like she didn’t matter. She felt as if the gift she received was about THEM (she wondered if they gave her the expensive doll so they could say they gave this particular fancy gift, or if it was more convenient for them to get that one than another) as opposed to about her (because they ignored her request). When she was not delighted by the gift, her parents got upset with her for being ungrateful (they felt rejected- see #1) and they all had a crummy Christmas.
Now we could argue that the gift I gave my friends’ families was about me, which it partially was, however these friends tend to like talking about all that sort of stuff and we have played the Ungame all together in the past and really liked it, so I was actually focusing on what they might like as well.
So how do we make gift giving a positive experience for everyone when it doesn’t overlap so well?
- BE AWARE, know what kind of gift it is- Is this one more about you or them?
- BE FLEXIBLE
- If it is about you, recognize you are doing it FOR YOU, so you go into it WANTING a particular response, but not NEEDING it. If it is about you, you don’t need their approval.
- If it is about them, and it is a positive response, no problem, it means you had a good read of their wants and hopes. If it is about them and it is NOT a positive response, take it as FEEDBACK and consider asking how you can problem solve for next time to make sure it is a positive gift giving and receiving experience for everyone! You may also consider sharing your intention and why you chose that gift for them, so they understand the intent as having been about them. People are usually very appreciative of that!
In short, it all comes back to we just want to be SEEN, HEARD and feel like we MATTER-
both in giving gifts and receiving them!
Happy Holidays everyone! Also the Awesome Videos of the month will be back soon, this just seemed like an timely post.