Remember when you were a kid and you really wanted that shiny new toy? But, inevitably, just like every other time Grandma gave you a gift, you tore open the package to find a bag of socks or–even worse–a sweater? But you were nice to Grandma, weren’t you? After all, it’s Grandma…and she means well. My question is, “Why don’t we ever treat anyone other than Grandma with that same level of gratitude?”
A gift is a sacred thing. When someone gives you a gift, she is giving you a piece of herself. It’s never “no big deal.” To the person giving you the gift, whether or not she acknowledges it, it means the world for you to simply take what she is offering.
Can you think of a time you’ve turned down a gift in the business world? Come on, I’m sure you have. I know I have. You see, sometimes a gift is disguised as a sales pitch…
- When someone gives you a business card, he is giving you a gift. The card is a representation of his business or his role in the business. It’s something he identifies with. Have you ever politely said, “no, thank you” to an offering for someone’s business card. How do you think that person feels when his card is rejected. It isn’t just some flimsy piece of cardboard–it’s his soul. Who cares if you already have three of his cards? Just take the card. File it. Shred it. Do whatever you want with it. But, take it from him. It is a gift.
- When someone gives you a sample, she is giving you a gift. The sample is a representation of the product she has developed or helped bring to market. She sees it as her creation–her art. Who hasn’t turned down samples? Maybe it’s food and you’re on a diet. Maybe it’s just not something you would use. Guess what? It doesn’t matter. The point is not that you can benefit from it. The point is that you make her feel like her work matters. Just take the sample. It is a gift.
You don’t need the socks Grandma bought you, and you sure aren’t going to wear that itchy sweater. But guess what? It’s not about you–it’s about Grandma. You accept the offering, because it’s a gift.
Try applying this principle to your business interactions. When someone offers you something free of charge, just take it. You don’t have to have a need for it. You don’t even have to keep it. But, in that moment–when the gift is changing hands–just take it. And say, “Thank you.”
To the gift-giver, it will mean the world. It tells them: my profession matters, my art matters, I matter.
…And that is the greatest gift you can give in return.