Look what I got for you!

For whatever reason, I like getting and giving people gifts. I've been like this since Grade 4 or 5. This isn't just Starbucks' gift cards or generic shit like that; I usually try to be incredibly thoughtful and make unique connections (convergent/divergent) between the person I'm giving the gift to, things about them, things about myself, etc.

For example, when living in San Francisco, I met up with a guy who did same program as me at Queen's. I knew he was originally from Winnipeg so to say thank you for meeting up with me, I sent him some Winnipeg Jets' stickers. Or, when I was going through the interview process at Shopify, they had this thing called "Draw The Owl" — i.e. figure it out and get shit done. At that point in my life, I was very big into social enterprises, NFP, etc. so I decided that as a thank you for having me as an interviewee, I would adopt a Snowy Owl through The World Wildlife Foundation on Shopify's behalf. Not only did I demonstrate "drawing the owl" but also Shopify's a Canadian company and snowy owls primarily reside in Canada.

One thing that I've noticed that I find interesting is that when I give gifts, in many cases, I feel almost more excited than the gift receiver! Because I feel like I so cleverly figured out interesting connections between things, I'm usually so fired up and high level of anticipation for me to give the gift to them. I was thinking about this the other day and it reminded me of the Sender-Message-Channel-Receiver Model of Communication:


What's very interesting is that usually with my gift giving, I actually end up being disappointed in the long-haul and I can explain using this model.

When I give a gift, I'm the sender and create all these connections and meaning to the gift I'm going to give. For me, I think to myself, "Wow, I'm so clever and smart!" and I have very high expectations for what the receiver of the gift is going to think of the gift itself AND how clever and smart they will think I am. However, when the receiver gets the gift, they don't necessarily see or know all the connections that I have made. And they might not realize how important it is to me that they like the gift.

This reminds me of 2 things:

  1. The Curse of Knowledge. In the case of gift giving, I'm cursed because I know all of the various meaningful connections apart of the gift I'm giving. The receiver, however, doesn't necessarily see all of those; they don't necessarily have all the same knowledge that I have.
  2. Happiness = Reality - Expectations When I have high expectations for how someone will enjoy and use my gift but it turns out they never use it, that makes me sad. For example, let's say I expected a 10 in how much they would like it, but then I perceive that the reality in how much they like it is only 4. That leaves me at a -6 aka sad

It's funny because just the other day my sister complained to me that when she shares a social media post with me or something she thinks that I would think is cool or funny, she says that I always just say "It's alright" lol so basically she has high expectations but then I don't fulfill them.

Written: November 5, 2020