Monday, December 23, 2013

Tis the Season - The Body Language of Gift Receiving

As the Holiday Season approaches we may be awaiting, in positive anticipation, the fabulous gifts that we
will be receiving; those gifts, whether large or small, that others have chosen for us with love and care. Certainly, when it is a gift we instantly love our body language leakage will work for us, unconsciously supporting our verbal declaration of... 'I love it'!

However, what about those gifts that don't bring that joyous, uplifting feeling?  What about those gifts from your Aunt Matilda that always fill you with dread and the immediate thought of 'What was she thinking'? (images of Ralphie's pink bunny suit from his Aunt in the movie classic A Christmas Story spring to mind) In these moments it is likely that our body language is not working in our favour, discounting our polite refrain of 'Wow, what a gift, I can't wait to wear/use this' leading to a family feud or snub that ruins the family gathering that year - even gatherings of years to come.

In our family we had a name for these gifts.  We called them 'Oh' gifts because the receiver's first reaction is often to open the gift and say 'Oh', before they recover enough to extend a more polite and politic response. Regardless of anything that followed if the first response was hesitation or Oh, we knew the gift was a miss. To help you to avoid these gaffes and to let peace reign supreme over your holiday feast this year, follow these simple tips to ensure that your 'I love it, can't wait to use/wear it' rings true this year.

  • When you are about to open that dreaded 'Oh' gift from Aunt Matilda, anticipate that it is something you will not want or are ever likely to use.  Mentally play a guessing game with yourself regarding what it might be or even how awful it might be.  When opening it you are then more likely to display leakage of delight and surprise, especially if it doesn't prove to be as bad as you thought!
  • Watch the timing of your Thank You's.  When we are truly grateful for the gift we have just opened, we will tend to thank the person immediately.  When we delay our thanks or hesitate, it appears to be an after-thought or a forced thanks.  Even in gift receiving, timing is everything!
  • When you receive the gift, open it, take it out, look at it.  This shows interest.  Then look at the gifter, lean slightly forward,  make eye contact, smile and offer your thanks.  This will make your thanks seem heart felt and sincere.
  • When opening the gift, pay attention to your chin.  Most people watch intently your first response, that moment when you are opening the gift and first determine just what it is that they have given you. When we don't like the gift, or are even repulsed by it, we will unconsciously pull the chin in toward our neck.  The bigger the retraction of the chin the greater the dislike.  Hold that chin firm and offer up a smile instead!
  • Hold onto the gift for a bit after opening.  Make it appear that it is something you don't want to part from.  All too often we rush through our thanks and gratefully shift the gift off to the side.  The faster we do this the greater our dislike of the gift typically and many times we inadvertently are shifting the gift off to the side even as we are thanking the gifter, giving lie to our words of thanks.  Keeping hold of the package shows possession and places claim over the item, all of which supports your words of thanks.   
And, if you happen to be one of those people that loves all of their gifts but experiences difficulty in receiving - anything - then use the tips above to ensure that others in your life feel appreciated.  They work for this too!

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