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Gifts to Avoid Giving to Women on All Occasions - Beware Hidden Messages

Updated on November 20, 2016
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John uses research skills (Ph D) & 30 years as CEO, manager to develop reviews for time management, productivity, staff relations, business

Giving gifts sounds so simple but in reality it’s a minefield strewn with hidden messages and innuendo that are so hard to avoid. Research has shown that the dilemma arises because the perspective of the giver and receiver is always different. The real challenge is being able to get into someone else's mind and think like them.

Psychological research confirms that we are all prisoners behind the wall of our own preferences. We have a very hard time viewing the world from a within the walls or another person’s perspective.

There are so many mind games involved. Even when you ask someone what they would really like as a gift, they won’t open up and be honest about it. What they say is what they think would be an appropriate choice for a gift from you given all your limitation in being unable to choose the exact gift you would like.

Admit you have done it yourself – your reply in saying what you want will depend on the cost of the gift and what’s appropriate for the giver.

While asking people what they want is the safest way, most people focus on choosing ‘surprises’ because this will show more thought and will showcase how you really care and understand what she would really want. It’s the thought that really counts, after all.

Well sorry to disillusion you, but there are so many thoughts flying around that you have to do better than that if you are going to be really appreciated.

This article explores all the processes involved in choosing a gift for women. One crucial way to avoid a disaster is to identify what most women do not want as gifts – The Hate List for Women’s Gifts.


ResearchStudies on Gift Giving

Surprisingly there has been research on this topic. Researchers at Harvard and Stanford have published various studies which have concluded that most people in North America, anyway, actually prefer gifts they said they wanted rather than surprises.

Despite the presumptions, a group of brides and grooms that were interviewed said that they actually appreciated gifts on their wedding list more that the surprises, despite the extra effort and thought required by the giver.

Another similar study of gift giving, involving about 200 people, showed the same thing. Gift- receivers appreciated gifts they asked for, much more than the surprise gifts. However when the gift-givers that were interviewed they stated that surprise gifts and requested gifts would be equally appreciated by the receivers, but that they preferred to choose surprise gifts.

The results from several other studies clearly showed that gift-receivers and gift-givers have very different perspectives.
Gift-recipients prefer to get items they asked for, and regard these gifts as being more thoughtful than surprise gifts.
Gift-givers don’t understand this perspective and think that surprise gift shows more thought and would be appreciated more.

The conclusion from these studies is that gift-givers should work out what the receiver actually wants an requests by using wish lists, gift registries for events such as weddings and to get 'hints' from the recipient. There are various ways of working out what the recipient specifically wants, without asking them directly if you don't want to spoil the surprise.

The other point is that it is very hard to get inside the head of someone else. Your perspective will almost always be different to theirs, especially if you do not ask them directly or get indirect hints. This is the great dilemma of gift giving - working out or guessing what they want or would like you to buy for them.

How much a gift is valued and really appreciated depends on the effort and insight the giver puts into selecting it – knowing how they will respond. Generally it is easier to know what she doesn't want or like, rather than what she does like. So making a ‘Hate-List’ will help.

This is hard to do especially all the complex thought processes beyond knowing her interest, likes and dislikes. Even if you fail to get the perfect gift, the effort will be noticed and appreciated. Your generosity of time and thought may actually pay off, especially if you have eliminated what she hates. Instead of buying her the book YOU think she should read or would like to read, go the bookseller and try to think like her. Its hard but that is what is required.

One interesting category of gift is one that somebody really wants but would feel guilty buying for themselves. This is a great choice especially if she admires it. Going one level above the quality and expense category generally works.

Perishable gifts like flowers or chocolates are generally appreciated but something more permanent may be better. To create a durable impression gifts such as a vase or painting may be better

Better still are items that get used everyday. Vases are very impersonal. A set of high-end headphones, above her normal buying range is a good example. They are a luxury item, something that they may not justify buying for themselves. Best of all headphones are intimate and used nearly every day.

Eliminate the Gifts that Most Women Dislike or Don't Want Others Choosing for Them

Don’t give women Jewelry - All jewelry is not just a gift, it is much, much more and so personal that she will want to choose it herself.

Don’t give women Flowers - Flowers are fine of random surprises but not for major occasions. If she is a gardener, pot plants are better because they do not wither and die after a few days.

Don’t give women Perfumes - Women like to choose their own brand of scents and even duplicating what she already uses may fail to impress because she may be sick of it.

Don’t give women Chocolates - Most women don’t want to be tempt them with calorie-laden sweets, and they are so short lived. Also chocolates are seen to be very low in terms of thoughtfulness and time taken to choose a gift.

Don’t give women Clothes - Women have very distinct preferences for style, designer, color, fabric, style and many other things that you could never hope to understand.

Don’t give women the following items which are boring and too impersonal:

  • Electrical appliances
  • Cleaning equipment
  • Cooking utensils
  • A gift for yourself and pretend it is for her.
  • Gift certificates

© 2012 Dr. John Anderson


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