Posts Tagged ‘thank you’

Give good gratitude

May 14, 2010

It’s a simple premise: if you like the presents you receive, and would like to receive more on future occasions, let the giver know!

In recent years I’ve given up on sending gifts to two close friends, because they simply don’t bother to acknowledge them.   Maybe, months later, they’ll say in passing while on the telephone, “Oh!  I meant to say thank you for that birthday gift you sent!”  But it’s a pretty feeble effort, all things considered. 

It’s not that they’re not caring, warmhearted people, it’s just that somewhere along the line they lost sight of the fact that sending thanks (and ideally, feedback) about a gift is an important part of maintaining your relationship with the giver – ‘closing the loop’, as it were. 

Years ago I remember one of them receiving a big parcel from her family overseas.  It was full of the most divine new clothing, and we onlookers were all green with envy at the wonderful gifts she got.  She shrieked with pleasure as each new garment was pulled out of the box, and modelled them for our approval.  But months later, despite much nagging from her mother, this generous gift was still unacknowledged to the givers.  I always wondered: did they ever bother to send her anything further, after that episode?

I know you, dear readers, would never be so thoughtless as to let a gift go unacknowledged.  But I do think, when someone doesn’t respond to a gift, it’s a good time – especially if it’s not the first time that’s happened – for the giver to take stock.  Usually I will “take the hint” (whether it’s a hint or not), to switch to sending just a greeting card in future.  After all, what can the recipient do?  Phone to demand: “Where’s my present?”  And although that’s technically possible, you have the perfect response all ready and waiting:

“Well, I never heard from you about last year’s present, nor the one before, so I thought you mustn’t like my gifts, and had better stop sending them.”  Cue – one hopes – embarrassed silence.

Postscript: the above post assumes that the giver values and expects reciprocity or thanks with gift giving.  Generally this is part of the accepted etiquette in Western society.  However, at risk of sounding petty or grasping in my gift-giving habits, I would also mention that I often give gifts where I do not anticipate any form of thanks or reciprocity.  But with close friends and family, I generally do.

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When it’s NOT a gift

May 11, 2010

I recently baked a lemon meringue pie for my in-laws.  While we were sitting down to eat it, the pie inspired a long-forgotten memory of theirs:

Many years ago, another family had borrowed their electric mixer.  It was not a fancy appliance, just a glorified egg-beater, really.  Two years went by, and the mixer was not returned. 

As time progressed they grew tired of always having to use a fork or manual egg-beater, while their mixer had apparently been adopted by their ‘friends’.  So eventually they asked for it back, and went around to collect it. 

The family who’d borrowed it were most definitely not happy to return it – nor even embarrased about the excessive length of time they’d borrowed it for.  Quite the opposite – they even made one last guilt trip as they handed the mixer over: “The family will miss their lemon meringue pies,” said the matriarch despondently.

I was spluttering with outrage when this was relayed to me.  These people had borrowed something for a huge length of time, hadn’t said thank-you for the use of it, and hadn’t given even a tiny thank-you gift?  (One of those lemon meringue pies, for example, would have been appropriate!)

It just goes to show.  Some people seem to think that a borrowed item is a gift – or at least wish it were so.  Not classy.

The gift you DIDN’T give

April 4, 2010

There are many gifts I’ve given that, in retrospect, I wince about.  Not too many like that these days, but as a young, callow girl/woman, I made my share of gift-giving mistakes.

However, one that stands out for me is the gift I didn’t give – and should have.  Nearly 10 years ago I was fixing up my house to sell, and had a plumber come round to replace the busted hot water cylinder. 

“This is a great house,” he commented.  “I know some people who might be interested in buying it.  Could I put them in touch with you?”  Sure, I agreed.  I figured there was no way it would result in anything, but it couldn’t hurt.  Well, to my very great surprise, one of the couples that came round to look at the place did end up buying it!  That plumber did me a huge favour, by facilitating a private sale – I saved many thousands of dollars in agents’ fees and advertising costs.

I should have bought that plumber a present.  A bottle of fine whiskey, perhaps (or whatever his preferred tipple was); or a gift basket, or a sheaf of gift vouchers.  But in the drama of selling the house and finishing fixing it up and what was going on in my private life (plenty), that good deed somehow escaped me.  I’ve always regretted it. 

Given how much money he’d saved me, I should have made the time and effort.  Now I look back and realise how cheap I was, and I always wince.  It’s a mistake I won’t make again.  One thing I have learned is that, where gifts of gratitude are concerned, promptness is everything.

The free gift everyone loves

March 3, 2010

Here’s an idea for a gift you can give as often as you like, no one will ever get tired of it, and it doesn’t cost a cent.  Read on to find out how.

Receive great customer service?  Sure you could thank the person, or tip them well.  But as well as that, tell their manager.  Do it the same day – if you let it go any longer, chances are you’ll forget or the impetus will begin to weaken. 

If you don’t know the name of the person who assisted you, describe their appearance and location as best you can.  This is important, because your detailed, enthusiastic feedback to the firm may be precisely what gives that person a raise or a bonus.  Which is a thank you they’ll really appreciate! 

Send a quick email to the firm, raving about the person and how helpful/ kind/ pleasant he or she was.  Don’t worry if you don’t know the manager’s name – most firms’ websites will have a generic contact email address, and the person who clears it will forward it on to the manager. 

If you’re very short on time, try calling outside of business hours and leaving a message for the manager on the firm’s answerphone.  The person who clears it in the morning will (if they’re at all competent) call the manager over to listen to it. 

You may wish to include your contact phone number or postal address as well as your name.  This is so that the manager can confirm that your compliment is genuine.

Believe it or not, this gesture is also a great gift to yourself, also.  Why?  Because this little act of kindness tends to generate massive rush of good feelings which will give you a terrific lift.  You will feel better about yourself, because – in a matter of moments – you made someone’s day.

Electronic thank yous

February 23, 2010

I’m going to make a bold statement here and contradict the etiquette mavens of this world by saying something shocking:

It’s all right to say thank you for a gift by email or telephone.

Especially if that makes the difference between saying ‘thank you’ promptly, and possibly not saying getting around to saying it at all. People are busy with kids, jobs, commitments; time is precious; not everyone has stationery or postage stamps at the ready.

But make it a good thank-you. A mundane, thanks-it-was-great, simply won’t do. Be enthusiastic. Tell them what you love about their gift. Make it lively enough and they won’t even notice the lack of a handwritten note.

One exception: weddings or other important gift occasions. If anyone has sprung for a ‘special occasion present’ for you, they deserve the courtesy of a written thank you.

Due to the ubiquity of electronic channels, I actually think some people are starting to expect their thank yous to arrive more quickly these days. Here’s a telling story: Last year I received a gift from a cousin, popped a thank you card to him in the mail the following day, and got a phone call from him that very evening, asking: had I received the gift? Yes indeed, I said, adding that (thank heavens!) a thank-you card was already winging its way to him. “Oh, I wasn’t ringing to be thanked,” he said, “I just wanted to be sure you’d received it.”

I had to bite my tongue from pointing out that, as he’d sent the parcel by special delivery, he could have used the tracking number and called the freephone service to find out whether it had been delivered. I guess he thought because he hadn’t heard from me within two days of the parcel’s delivery, that I probably wasn’t going to acknowledge his gift at all – and it obviously didn’t occur to him that someone would send their thanks by post. That’s how much expectations have moved within the last decade or so.