There is a saying that it is always more blessed to give than to receive. But when politics play a major role in the overall picture that even an innocent act of giving gift may appear like a bribe, you know that there’s something to hold back with the idea.

In some countries, giving gifts is considered a corporate taboo and is therefore altogether prohibited. In as much the same way that bribe gets someone special favors, the giving of gifts often alludes as an act that takes advantage of people’s soft spot for a favor, despite the nuances involved.

For example, giving bosses gifts could be a way for some people to get promoted in a job they are otherwise unqualified for. Like in all workplace setting, this kind of idea generates envy and discord in an otherwise harmonious community of working people who believe in the principles of fairness and meritocracy.

But not all corporate cultures regard gift-giving as always a means to bribe as they have their proper relevance, even in the office. Yet, gift-giving in this context must still follow certain guidelines lest it go overboard and unwittingly tramples lines that no other people dare to.

To save yourself the troubles of learning the hard way about the taboos of gift-giving, consider the following:

Always Regard Giving Gifts as a Sensitive Matter

Unless the recipient you are giving gift with is an office mate who is also a love interest or someone very close to you socially, always keep in mind that giving another person a present in the workplace is a sensitive topic, even if the company do allow it.

This is perhaps especially truer when you consider people in the position of power in the workplace as the intended recipients and the act of giving the gift itself is public than private.

To offset any unwanted prejudices, it always pays to make due research first about the company’s culture towards giving gifts and learn how you should go about it.

If the company does not allow the giving other people gifts within the work setting, just simply follow the imposition and not send anyone gift. You will be saving some money that way.

Appropriateness of the Act of Gift Giving

The idea of giving presents had always been a good thing for people. But even for something which everyone considers as flattering and pleasing, it can also be improper if not done for the right reason.

Like the earlier example given, giving a boss or anyone influential in the company a gift to get special favors is generally regarded wrong as it may corrupt the company’s established morals, resulting to a trend that ruins its integrity. It is everyone’s best intention for you not to set a fire that you personally would not be able to fix.

However, there are also instances when giving the gift is actually appropriate such as:

  • Special occasions like wedding, birthday, or after giving birth
  • A display of gratitude towards someone who did something amazing as heroic as going one beyond just the call of duty
  • Holiday celebrations like Christmas or New Year or something international like Dia De Los Muertos, Chinese New Year or Diwali.
  • In celebration of business-related achievements such as making a profitable year, acquiring new clients, and getting a promotion
  • Successful completion of the project

Intuitively, the following are examples of when giving presents is not proper:

  • No special occasion at all
  • Nothing significant coming from the supposed recipient
  • Any other month of the year not worth celebrating
  • No significant improvement in the company
  • While having an ongoing or unfinished project

Choosing the Right Gift

The idea of getting something from someone is uncommon for most people and, hence, why getting presents makes for a very pleasing experience. However, not everything that is tangible in this world is good for the present. Not minding the value of something—say, a gemstone—a gift may sometimes exhibit a message that may not be received by the recipient as best intended.

For example, if you are to give a present to a co-worker that is of the opposite sex, try to come up with a gift that’s not too intimate or personal such as sexy lingerie, expensive jewelry, or costly perfume. Typically, any of these gifts are the kind given by the intimate partners, if not one they get for themselves for personal reasons. Even if the intention behind the gift is best, the message may be easily misinterpreted as something very offensive.

Instead, try to come up with something more neutral and general such as a bouquet of flowers, a box of candy, a basket filled with an assortment of fruits, a book, etc.