Gift-givers need to stop being so thoughtful.
That’s the finding of a new study out by the Stanford Graduate School of Business, which reveals giving people what they want–and literally ask for–is the trick to being the best gift-giver ever. Notes the press release:
When it comes to gift-giving, most people are simply not paying attention to what others want. They miss the boat by ignoring direct requests, wrongly assuming that going a different route will be seen as more thoughtful than getting something she specifically said she wants.
Frank Flynn, a professor at the school who’s researched gift-giving habits extensively, conducted five experiments examining whether gift recipients cared about receiving what they asked for and could even tell the difference.
In the second study, in which recipients created an Amazon “wish list” containing 10 products priced between $20 and $30, Flynn found they appreciated the gifts they’d asked for the most, rating them as more “personal” and “thoughtful” than ones they hadn’t asked for.
More interestingly, a fourth study revealed that givers who received explicit directions, as in specifying a gift to buy, fared better among recipients, while the fifth study proved the most popular gift of all was–drum roll–money, even though most givers assumed it would be the least expected or well-received.
So what does all this mean for the upcoming holiday season?
“Going the extra to be thoughtful can actually backfire if being thoughtful means ignoring other’s direct requests,” says Flynn.
Stop assuming that you know what to get for your boss, and stick to what he says if you want to elicit a sincere “thanks.”
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