7 Free Gifts that People Won’t Return or Forget by Late January

Finished your holiday shopping? With a long holiday shopping season, you would think that by now all the buying would be behind us.

Yet, advertisements, emails, and online remarketing campaigns demand that we keep shopping throughout the weekend if we are truly going to have positive impacts on our relationships with friends, loved ones, and co-workers. You would think that, without last-minute gifts, everyone will miss out on their hopes and dreams and face a miserable year ahead.

Going a Different Direction

Amid all the signals to buy more, let’s focus on very different gift ideas.

These seven are appropriate for business settings, and you can start (although maybe not fully accomplish) them before January. All are free gifts, which makes them ideal for sharing with others throughout the year.

Cheerleading someone toward bolder aspirations than they have imagined.

We have all been around people with strong talents, solid knowledge, and great attitudes who nevertheless sell themselves short. They face self-doubts or struggle with imagining themselves taking on bigger, higher-impact roles. They are not limited in their abilities, simply in their personal horizons.

If you know someone like this, give them the gift of sharing the potential you see in them. Share how you imagine them displaying their talents on a bigger stage or accomplishing objectives they could never envision for themselves. If this person reports to you, go further; nudge them into bigger opportunities than they would ever personally seek.

Connecting with a person when you suspect he or she might need it most.

You will see media discussions focused on how the holidays are a difficult time for many. As a friend who was undergoing Job-like challenges once put it, “You may never know the private hell someone else is living through.”

People experience challenges beyond the holidays. Even if you regularly and actively do so, listen with your ears, eyes, and (as tough as it may be in the social media world) keyboard. You never know who is living with potentially life-crushing challenges you’d never imagine without listening. If you suspect someone around you is struggling, go out of your way to give them an opening to address or unload about what they are facing.

Telling someone you have not talked to for a long time that you miss them.

A former co-worker once left me a message after a job change, saying she was going through “withdrawal pains” from talking regularly. I saved that message for years and listened to it when I needed a boost.

What is a sincere, upbeat message you could share with someone close to you who has been far away for an extended period? Why do you miss them? What are your hopes for them? Call, and if they answer, you’ve gotten over the hurdle of reconnecting. If you get voice mail, have something already planned that you want to share with them that you suspect will brighten their days for years to come.

Letting someone who’s struggling know they are on the right track.

It is easy for individuals to beat themselves up, particularly at year end, over failing to accomplish goals, progressing as they expected in their careers, or having the family lives they would prefer to enjoy. As an objective observer, you can both acknowledge their frustrations AND see the clear positives in their lives. Can you see and share personal growth or career progress they are making, but are too close or inside their own heads to recognize?

Even if you’re not in a formal mentorship role, reach out to someone in this situation and provide the perspectives to let them know (and then reinforce) where you can see they are moving forward in a positive, beneficial way.

Respecting someone you fundamentally disagree with, even on serious issues.

Discord surrounds us. News channels are filled with argument-based programs. Too many on social media hurl invective and insults as comments on others’ posts. And we are all likely apprehensive about the potential for harsh political conversations at family gatherings this holiday.

Approach holiday events looking for points of agreement with each person. Focus on where you see things comparably, no matter how minor the points where you see eye-to-eye may seem. Concentrate your conversations there, avoiding the acrimony that might otherwise ensue.

Refraining from sharing all your successes when someone needs to hear about your challenges.

Holiday letters are loaded with incredible personal and family accomplishments. Some people reserve that type of success onslaught for an annual letter; others bask in a litany of personal accomplishments whenever you encounter them. Consumed with themselves, they are exhausting for others.

While it’s often easier to report good news, it could be more important with someone not experiencing current success to hear about your challenges. What hasn’t gone well? What aspirations did you surrender and subsequently on from? What survival strategies worked when disaster struck? While success lessons are nice, tips for coping, survival, and rebounding are valuable. Make yourself vulnerable and share those stories.

Deferring a great personal opportunity to someone who is less of a fit, but would benefit more.

The beginning of the year is a time for promotions and new opportunities emerging. As a leader in your company, you may be under consideration for a disproportionate number of these opportunities to contribute, grow, and develop.

If you’ve been richly blessed with these opportunities, look to see who in your organization is deserving or has tremendous potential, yet has been overlooked for comparable assignments. How can you impact these individuals receiving an opportunity earmarked for you that will benefit them dramatically more?

Have a Wonderful Holiday!

Any of these free gifts would be a great way to give something that won’t be forgotten by the end of January! - via Inside the Executive Suite


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