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4 Holiday Gifts Your Coworkers Don’t Want

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You may see your colleagues every day, but do you really know what’s on their holiday wish lists?

If you’re buying gifts for your coworkers this holiday season, remember to steer clear of these four categories:

1. The Self-Improvement Gift

Over the course of the year, your coworkers may express the desire to learn a new skill. In these cases, providing them with a gift that helps them achieve this goal can be positive. But if you’ve been critical of their spreadsheets, giving them a copy of Excel for Dummies could rub them the wrong way.

2. The Overly Personal Gift

There is a fine line between thoughtful gifts and personal gifts. Think twice before buying perfume, jewelry or personal clothing items. Nothing says holiday discomfort better than a new blouse from Kevin in finance.

3. The Overly Expensive Gift

Respect a reasonable price limit for office gifts. Your colleague’s $10 coffee shop gift card will look cheap if you give her an iPad in return. The perceived difference in value can create an awkward moment at work.

4. The Future Commitment Gift

Center for the Public Trust Holiday Gifts for CoworkersGiving a coworker two concert tickets and explaining that it would be fun for you to “go together” is inappropriate and puts him in an awkward position. Friendships can’t be forced. If you haven’t interacted with a colleague outside of work before, you shouldn’t give something that requires him to spend more time with you in the future.

So after nixing these categories, what’s left?

The best approach is to listen to your coworkers and take note of their interests throughout the year. Giving them a reasonably priced gift that aligns with something they previously expressed interest in, demonstrates that you listened to them and put some extra thought into the gift.

If you don’t know the person you are buying the gift for very well, just pick items like gift cards, books, non-explicit music, and DVDs, which are usually price and relationship appropriate gifts.

Additionally, gifting should never be forced. Even employee gift exchanges should be optional. Failing to consider the various factors that impact one’s ability to give, can turn a fun activity into a stressed-filled event. Following these tips will help you and your team enjoy an awkward-free holiday season.

Always remember, Leadership is a Lifestyle.

– Ryan W. Hirsch
Program Manager, NASBA Center for the Public Trust