Wednesday, August 20, 2008

When Surprises are Bad Idea

When we think about giving the perfect gift, we usually consider surprise a key component. We imagine the surprise on our friend's face when he opens it, how he might marvel at our ingenuity, how we thought of something absolutely perfect he would never have expected. 

But the truth is, not everyone enjoys being surprised. My friend Joe explained his discomfort to me prior to an office gift exchange. "The worst part," he said, "is having to open it in front of everyone, the pressure of having people watching me for a reaction." Joe would much rather know what's in the box ahead of time because, for him, the joy associated with a gift is quickly eclipsed by the social pressure of having to react with appropriate surprise and appreciation. 

Joe is not alone in this respect; it's entirely possible there may be a surprise-hater on your list of gift recipients as well. For these people, remember that a key rule of gift giving applies: Give gifts for THEM, not for YOU. Never put your need to get a great reaction above your recipient's preferences. If you have a friend like Joe, keep it simple. Get him something on his list. 

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