Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Art of Gifting

The simple thought behind giving someone a gift, other than expressing some kind of feeling, is the desire to receive something in return. That is how humans are wired. Come festive season, or wedding season, the whole process of gifting which involves thinking, making an effort to buy and finally gifting goes into full swing.

An interesting article by Niranjan Rajadhyaksha, executive editor of Mint, embarked on information asymmetry, that is a skewed information between the gifter and the receiver, making the whole process complex. He cites the example of a child who would say upfront what she needs and thus making gifting easier whereas in case of an adult lack of communication makes the process of gifting tricky.

I have thus tried to make a matrix to categorize gifts into four groups based on its quality when seen with reference to information asymmetry. Here the quality of gift is as perceived by the receiver.

Category 1: Poorly informed & Good quality: When one is not aware of the like and dislike but is ready to spend a big sum, any safe gift which is costly is appealing. Occurs usually when subordinates plan to gift new bosses.
The receiver acts on the need. If it is not required, and given the quality it actually then gets passed on to close relatives and friends.

Category 2: Well informed & Good quality: Those are the cherished gifts. Those are ones which one keeps. The relationship booster kind of gifts. Its just ideal.

Category 3: Well informed & Poor quality:  Despite knowing the choice of the receiver one choosing a sub optimal gift is a signal of reluctance. One then is perhaps acting out of compulsion. The multitude of office colleagues, whom one doesn't share great relation with yet is bound by official good conduct fall in this category.
The receiver searches for people to pass it on to. Most often, the house help are the victims.

Category 4: Poorly informed & Poor quality: I call them the Soan Papdi gifter. Not knowing what to gift and not trying to think much about it leads to such a situation.
These are quickly abandoned by the receiver.

It is difficult to give an ideal gift for there exists information asymmetry. Studies have shown that millions of dollars in US are spent on giving gifts that are not appreciated by the receiver, The situation is definitely similar in India. A little effort to think about what to gift, and to be more pragmatic in gifting would go a long way in the art of gifting. 

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