Altruistic? Really?

Let’s be honest here, even though it makes us uncomfortable. Unless you are Mother Teresa, you seldom give a gift unless you expect a return. I know that isn’t pretty; but it is the truth. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s make gifting an event that makes both parties happy. Let the return be that you made someone happy.

Therefore, when we give a gift it needs to be given in such a way that isn’t crass and so blatantly obvious that it has the opposite effect you intended. I call an inappropriate gift a bilateral reciprocity agreement….or tit for tat, or in legal terms, “Quid pro Quo.” In other words, “Here’s a gift; now you owe me big time!”

Here are gifts that are just downright wrong:

Sending a drink in return when someone buys you one at a bar. That is not a gift. It just neutralizes the room. They already beat you to the punch. Why not buy a drink for someone else? Or buy a drink that the bartender delivers after you have left the building. There is power in the giving; not in the getting.


  • Insist that you give equal gifts to kids and family members. Kind of takes the value out of it. Treat them as individuals and make the gift special and unexpected.
  • Gift everytime. It becomes an obligation or entitlement.
  • Be predictable.


 A. Be unexpected. Remarkable is a byproduct of surprise. Give at Thanksgiving instead of Christmas. Roses a couple of days before the date. For no reason at all.

When it comes to business associates, I like to gift at least 21 days in advance of the ask. Or 21 days after the sale. They know what you are doing but it makes it less uncomfortable and they don’t feel like they have been manipulated.

 B. Be appropriate.

Make the gifts appropriate. No cheap trinkets with a large self serving logo on it. Gifts don’t have to cost money, but they always cost time and effort. You can show generosity and a little vulnerability. And that’s OK.

 C. Be genuine.

At least let them feel the gift is genuine and meaningful. Let the return be unexpected. Sound no trumpet!

Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful people are always asking, “Where’s my gift?” Every rule of good customer service, networking, and marketing revolves around the value you provide others. It doesn’t have to be huge. Just thoughtful.

Secret hint: Always keep a small gift in your glove compartment for those moments when you need to get out of trouble with your spouse. Only works once, so use it wisely. You’re welcome!

Written By: Rick Murphy – Radio Sales Specialist and FM Station Owner For Over 40 Years

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