December 22, 2010
In other words, without a gracious receiver, gift-giving can be awkward, disappointing or worse - escalating. Sometime during the last decade, a new type of giving-mentality has erupted: You can't outgive me, I'm the Big-Giver around here!
Whether personal or professional, we've come to realize that when we give to others, we build our relationships and trigger the law of reciprocity. Or, as I'd say as a Lovecat, "Nice Smart People Succeed." So now it's an arms race of gift giving, where we one-up people's <feeble> attempts to give, give-back or be generous with us. I call this 'Bully Giving' - where the intention of the giver is to own the receiver, if only for a minute. In a holiday season scenario, where gifts are usually exchanged, this creates a bad situation.
Here's my point: We need to be good receivers, so others can experience the "Joy Of Giving". This is not a competition to see who the best giver is, or whether we are Net Givers in an exchange situation. It's about the spirit of giving, gratitude and love. And that requires as many good receivers as it does good gift givers. When you are given to this season, here are three ways you can embrace the art of receiving gifts:
1 - Be Available. When someone gives to you, be in full-receive mode. Pay attention to the card, what he says as he hands it to you, the packaging and most of all - the thoughtfulness behind the gift. Don't change the subject. Don't apologize that your gift is or may be smaller. Don't hold back emotions, in fact, make yourself emotionally available to truly show some happiness!
2 - Be Authentically Grateful. Use receiving a gift as a platform to state your feelings for the giver. Let him/her know you are grateful for the gift, but even more, for the relationship or association. Let the moment of your expressed gratitude linger. As I talk about in my next book (Today We Are Rich), gratitude is a muscle, not a feeling. We need to work it out to increase our spiritual strength. After the holidays (or your B-Day), sit down and write Thank You notes, and be very specific about what the gift means to you, and how you'll put it to use. You don't need to reserve Thank You cards for weddings, graduations, etc.
(Note: When you express your gratitude, you are giving your Giver positive feedback. That will motivate the giver to keep on giving, because it's working. I call this living in the Good Loop and it requires positive feedback.)
3 - Be Humble. In the moment of receiving, be a little in debt to your giver. Don't analyze the gift in terms of whether it's big enough, too big, a surprise or better than other gifts you are getting. It's not a competition or an acid-test of others' feelings for you. It is a gift, and you are the recipient. Don't immediately respond with a superior gift, so as to take the moment away from the other.
Over the next few days, you'll have many chances to put this into play. During your next birthday, you'll really have an opportunity to say Thanks! and help spread the joy of giving.