Bad Gifts Negatively Affect Relationships

Psyblog recently published research on the affect poorly chosen gifts have on interpersonal relationships.

Between gift givers and recipients in established relationships, men who received poorly chosen gifts that did not reflect their personal preferences determined their future relationship with their partner to be much shorter. Women who received a poor gift, however, perceived a longer future with their partner. Researchers ascribe this dichotomous result to women’s desire to protect against a potential “threat” to the relationship. Men simply stated they didn’t like their partner’s gift choice and, by extension, their partner.

The report concludes:
“Over the long-term, the story is likely to be the same for both sexes: bad gifts damage relationships by chipping away at their heart - the feeling that in this big, bad world you've found someone who really understands you, and knows what you like.”

I believe the same holds true in work relationships. At work, just as at home, people need to believe they are valued, understood and appreciated. Bad “gifts” in the form of inappropriate recognition damage employees’ relationships with their managers and the company, just as bad gifts damage interpersonal relationships between couples. We have heard countless stories from employees of our clients who have been put off and even insulted by pre-selected rewards sent to them. The examples are countless – a gift certificate to a steakhouse restaurant for a vegetarian employee, a clock for a Chinese employee where such an item signifies death, a fleece coat for an employee in Nairobi.

A far better solution is to give the employees the recognition they deserve through a heartfelt message commending them for their effort along with the opportunity to choose a personally meaningful and culturally relevant gift from our more than 25 million options available in our Gift of Choice network.

How about you? Have you seen this gifting phenomenon play out in your personal relationships? How about your work relationships? What’s the worst gift you received from a significant other? How about from your company? Share your stories in comments.

1 comment(s):

At December 01, 2008 12:10 AM, Lael Trent said...

Well this is interesting, that gifting can actually affect a relationship. Makes me think harder and more carefully about what I should gift this Christmas. Thus far, I have the ipod prominent in my mind. My husband who loves his ipod when he is jogging or traveling, recently broke his piece. I thought, this Christmas would be a good time to surprise him with a new ipod. I've already put together a small collection of his favorite songs that will also be loaded on before I gift it to him. Interestingly I ordered the ipod online from Hope he likes it.