Author Topic: Expensive gifts?  (Read 1850 times)

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June24

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Expensive gifts?
« on: August 30, 2010, 11:32:41 PM »
What do you do when someone gives you a gift that seems excessively pricey to you, to the point of making you feel uncomfortable? Especially if you know that it's really not that expensive from their point of view? What if you don't want to offend the person who gave you the gift by refusing it, but at the same time it makes you feel really awkward and indebted? Assume that it's not jewelry or anything of an intimate or inappropriate nature. What if the person giving the gift is...

1. a colleague
2. your boss
3. a significant other
4. a family member to whom you are not especially close
5. a friend

Does it matter if the same gift is given to a bunch of other people (like a boss giving an identical gift to several employees of the same rank)?

Would you decline the gift, or bite your tongue and accept it? On the flip side, is it rude to give a gift to someone knowing that they may find it extremely over the top in terms of price?

ShadesOfGrey

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Re: Expensive gifts?
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2010, 11:35:15 PM »
I would have five different answers for all five of those people.  I would also have a different answer depending on what the item was.  Can you be more specific?

the boss thing wouldnt bother me at all - if he bought the same thing for all employees of that level, it's not really OTT for him, now is it? ;)  Maybe in a small office, or if my boss was toxic it would bother me, but in general not a problem at all. 
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June24

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Re: Expensive gifts?
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2010, 12:17:34 AM »
I'm just remembering several situations that involved this sort of a dilemma.

One case: A colleague gave me an expensive "tool" that is used in our profession - it's sort of a luxury for an individual person to own one of these. Usually your place of employment provides one, but it's often not the greatest quality. The one that this colleague gave me is top of the line, and extremely expensive. He knows that I wanted one because I've said in passing how cool it would be to own one - I never thought that he (or anyone else) would actually purchase it for me. I know that it's brand new and not something he just didn't need anymore. I appreciate it, but I'm weary of accepting it because I feel that it may come with strings attached.

This person is sort of "above" me in the field - i.e. more respected and well-known. However, he's not directly my boss. He's been asking me to do some work for him (work that I specialize in). I've declined because I'm involved in other things right now, and the project that he wants me to do doesn't gel with my long-term career plans. I don't want to have to accept this project, but at the same time I don't want to offend him by rejecting his gift or suggesting that it was a bribe/ pressure tactic. Especially since many people in the field really respect his opinion. But I feel that if I accept the gift, it'll be REALLY awkward to turn down the project if he asks again.

Also, it's crossed my mind that he may have some romantic interest in me, but this is really just a suspicion.

MsMarjorie

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Re: Expensive gifts?
« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2010, 01:00:32 AM »
I'd say go with your suspicion.

Is there anyway you could pay him back for the tool?  If not then returning it would be the best option - you could write a note like this  "I'm sorry I just can't accept such an expensive gift but thank you for thinking of it" and then package it up and send it back to him. 

Don't accept his project if you don't want to do it - tell him you have too many other things on for the foreseeable future.  Deflect the romantic overtures before they become a problem.

Nurvingiel

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Re: Expensive gifts?
« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2010, 01:27:57 AM »
Maybe he sees himself as a mentor? And he wants you to work on his project because he respects your work? Maybe this costly tool is a way to show appreciation for great people in the industry. Giving an expensive gift in this case seems a bit odd though. Maybe he's a really generous guy?

I really like MsMarjorie's suggestion. It's a nice way to not accept a gift without rejecting. It's so hard to say no to a gift! But I don't like to feel indebted to people.

Incidentally, if you're in forestry and the gift was an increment borer (they are about two hundred bucks) ........ I'll take it off your hands. ;D

Edit: Or a vertex. ;D
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artk2002

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Re: Expensive gifts?
« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2010, 10:55:26 AM »
On the flip side, is it rude to give a gift to someone knowing that they may find it extremely over the top in terms of price?

I'm not a mind reader and I don't know anyone else's financial situation.  What may be excessive to me isn't excessive to someone else and it isn't my place to determine what's excessive for them.  I give gifts because I think the recipient will enjoy the gift, independent of its cost.  I accept gifts in the spirit in which they are given.  If I feel the gift was very generous, I make sure that I: 1) Thank the giver profusely; and 2) Make sure that I return the kindness/generosity.  Not in a dollar-for-dollar sense.
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567Kate

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Re: Expensive gifts?
« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2010, 11:13:59 AM »
Speaking for the general case, if the only thing awkward about the gift is the presumed price and not the nature of the gift, I think it's best to accept it. You don't necessarily know how much the person really spent on it, and I know some shopping ninjas.

For the specific case you describe, that's awkward. I can see where you feel uncomfortable giving it back. My best suggestion would be to treat it like something he bought for your position rather than you, if that makes sense? Like, don't take the tool home with you, and generally treat it like company property?

bah12

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Re: Expensive gifts?
« Reply #7 on: August 31, 2010, 11:24:13 AM »
What do you do when someone gives you a gift that seems excessively pricey to you, to the point of making you feel uncomfortable? Especially if you know that it's really not that expensive from their point of view? What if you don't want to offend the person who gave you the gift by refusing it, but at the same time it makes you feel really awkward and indebted? Assume that it's not jewelry or anything of an intimate or inappropriate nature. What if the person giving the gift is...

1. a colleague
2. your boss
3. a significant other
4. a family member to whom you are not especially close
5. a friend

Does it matter if the same gift is given to a bunch of other people (like a boss giving an identical gift to several employees of the same rank)?

Would you decline the gift, or bite your tongue and accept it? On the flip side, is it rude to give a gift to someone knowing that they may find it extremely over the top in terms of price?

Assuming that there's nothing inappropriate about the gifts other than the price:

1.  I would be uncomfortable getting a gift from a collegue regardless of the price.
2.  Boss: This would be ok with me provided that several people (like all managers, etc) received the exact same gift.  If I was the only one, then I'd be uncomfortable.
3. Significant Other:  No problem at all as long as my SO can afford the gift.
4. A family member I'm not close to: Depends.  If I trusted the family member, I would be ok.  If I didn't, then I'd wonder why I'm suddenly getting the gift.  If all family members got the same thing, it would make it better.
5. A friend:  Again, as long as the gift was only expensive and not otherwise inappropriate and my friend could afford it, then I'd have no problem with it.

USC_Gamecock

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Re: Expensive gifts?
« Reply #8 on: August 31, 2010, 03:28:52 PM »
I love gifts!  However, I've had people attempt to give me gifts that I felt uncomfortable accepting.  I knew I was uncomfortable, too -- I could feel the queasiness in my stomach.  Something just wasn't okay about accepting the gift.  In those cases, I politely (but firmly) said "Thank you so much for thinking of me, but I couldn't possibly accept this."

Twik

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Re: Expensive gifts?
« Reply #9 on: August 31, 2010, 04:15:21 PM »
Incidentally, if you're in forestry and the gift was an increment borer (they are about two hundred bucks) ........ I'll take it off your hands. ;D

Twik strikes the harp and sings that melancholy minstrel's song,

"I gave my love an increment borer, that had no stone...."
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Nurvingiel

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Re: Expensive gifts?
« Reply #10 on: August 31, 2010, 04:19:54 PM »
Incidentally, if you're in forestry and the gift was an increment borer (they are about two hundred bucks) ........ I'll take it off your hands. ;D

Twik strikes the harp and sings that melancholy minstrel's song,

"I gave my love an increment borer, that had no stone...."
I heart you.  8)

(I love folk music.)

Edit: The increment borer when it's in bloom, I'm sure it has no stone... ♪♫
« Last Edit: August 31, 2010, 04:25:45 PM by Nurvingiel »
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noexitwounds

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Re: Expensive gifts?
« Reply #11 on: September 01, 2010, 09:35:33 PM »
I may not be the best person to answer this as I honestly wouldn't feel awkward in basically any of those scenarios (with a caveat on the colleague one). Even in the case where a gift seems very expensive to me if I knew that the other person could easily afford it I'd treat it like a less costly gift from a friend who's salary reflects the cost of the gift. Essentially, I like to think that people know how much money they can afford to spend on a gift to me (I know this isn't always true but it's not really any of my business how they manage their money).

But even in taking it as you proposed, i.e. a situation where the gift giver clearly has more than enough funds to afford the gift, I would basically feel/react like this:

1. Colleague:

--- My caveat here is that I might wonder about the motives if I was the only one to receive a gift and I wasn't very close (in my mind) to the colleague.

--- On the other hand, if I have a good/close working relationship with them and some casual work-centered friendship on the side (but not enough they move down to 5/friend) then I'd see it as a generous gesture, thank them enthusiastically for the gift, and in a few days present a gift to them -- even if it's only their favorite cookies because that's all I could afford to spare.


2. Boss: This too would depend on some details.

--- If I had, say, just gone above & beyond my assigned tasks/duties on a project in a way that significantly helped boss/workplace out or done especially well on a project then I'd see the gift as a gesture of reward similar to how some workplaces give bonuses to employees in the above situations. I'd see it as an especially nice gesture/complimented if my workplace wasn't one of those that granted bonuses but my boss felt I'd earned one and paid for it out-of-pocket.

-- On the other hand, if I was the only one to receive a gift and I hadn't done anything worthy of a bonus lately then I'd find the gesture really strange. I'd still politely accept the gift and try to look happy but I'd keep an eye out on the boss for the foreseeable/near future just in case this was a precursor to something inappropriate.

-- Now, if I hadn't done anything notable of late but expensive gifts (either identical or tailored to individual interests) were given to a number of people in my department I'd figure that the boss felt the department deserved a reward and accept the gift graciously with no strange feelings.


3. SO: I'd find this pretty straight-forward. I'd see it as a romantic gesture that my SO felt like gifting and would accept happily because it's likely that would make her/him happy. I'd be sure to use the item s/he gave me at least for a week or two to show I appreciated it (even if I didn't really need it or even like it). I'd also reciprocate in some way that fit my feelings and budget so that my SO would know s/he is valued too.


4. Distant Family:

--- I admit I'd find it a little strange to receive a random gift from family I'm not close to during the year (but less strange if it were Christmas or my birthday rather than just some day out of the year).

--- If multiple people in my family received similar gifts from Distant Relative then I'd chalk it off as DR having a generous moment and leave it at a thank you note.

--- If I was the only one who received a gift I'd think that DR was trying to reestablish contact/offering an olive branch and, assuming that this relative wasn't toxic and/or I had a good reason not to contact them, I'd respond to the gift with not only a thank you note but a follow up phone call (or maybe email) thanking DR again and asking how DR has been. Then I'd go from there.


5. Friend: To keep this simple -- I'd probably respond similar to SO though the methods of reciprocation might be different.

Ultimately, for me, a gift is a gift and a gift not given in PA lashing out is a generous gesture that signifies that the gift giver values me in some way. I appreciate being valued and value that. I don't want to turn that gesture back into the gift giver's face, especially since they very well might not realize (especially in colleagues, DR, and even bosses sometimes) that what's a modest gift to them is a hugely extravagant one to you. Let them get happiness out of giving and accept that generosity comes in multiple forms, that's my motto.

Of course, I say that as the sort of person who does give gifts I know are out of the recipient's price range because I enjoy giving gifts and hope the gift can help them out.
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