Christmas is two weeks away. Excitement fills the air. Finally, a calm and peaceful reprieve from the tough year we all went through. Families have started planning how they can celebrate the holidays, even with the coronavirus looming. And, of course, gift shopping has begun, too.
Gift-giving or exchanging gifts is one of the holiday activities many people look forward to. It’s a great way to share your blessings as well as show appreciation for another person. However, in therapy, there is always the question of accepting gifts from clients. Is receiving gifts from them appropriate? How can this affect your business?
The Beauty of Gift-Giving
Gift-giving goes beyond family tradition. There is beauty in gift-giving. Seeing a person smile from receiving a gift is priceless. Giving gifts usually comes from the desire to show thankfulness, appreciation, and gratitude to someone. There is pure intention to make someone happy. And as they say, regardless of the gift given, it’s the thought that counts.
However, in a practitioner and client relationship, it may not always be the case. Practitioners may have to draw the line and set boundaries before you receive gifts from clients.
Should You Receive Gifts from Clients?
This question can’t simply be answered with a yes or no as there are different factors to consider. At the same time, as a practitioner, you should also be careful about outright rejecting gifts from clients who give them with the purest of intentions. Truth is, gift-giving is connected to deep emotions. However, the depth of these emotions remains in question. It can be delicate to toe the line between accepting and rejecting gifts.
Here are some aspects to consider:
- The feelings of the client
There are two ways to assess the feelings of your client. The first is to explore the reason why your client is giving you a gift. Gift-giving is known to be connected to deep emotions. Is your client giving you a gift based on guilt, self-value, generosity, or appreciation?
The second is considering how your client will feel if you reject the gift. In a post from Jenny Newsome, she shared that rejecting a gift from a client might be more damaging than you realize. It can dehumanize them. Your client can easily see this as rejection. Worse, it can even set you back on the progress you’ve made with the client. Further, it might bring about new problems that weren’t there before, like a client harboring negative feelings towards you, which will affect your relationship and therapy progress.
This is why it’s imperative for practitioners to discuss the meaning of the gift with the client before you accept it. For instance, if the gift comes from a place where the client is looking for acceptance or to be valued, it will be better to respectfully decline the gift and explain why you are doing so. On the other hand, if it’s a holiday gift that will now pose any risk in your working relationship, then you can accept the gift.
- Setting a no-gift policy
There are many gray areas between accepting and rejecting a gift from a client, making it all the more important to set your boundaries and gifting policies. What do you think is an acceptable gift for you? Will a gift voucher be acceptable? What about a free trip to a destination of your choice? Decide where you draw the line.
Once you are done with that, reflect on all the reasons why you’re accepting or rejecting these gifts so you can have an appropriate response. This is important especially when a client asks for a reason why you’re declining the gift. You won’t be out of words and will be able to explain it properly.
Nonetheless, it is not uncommon for clients to ignore your no-gift policy. Some clients believe that they have a great bond with you and have established trust to give you a gift. Now, this becomes your decision.
Always Respond Respectfully
Whether you’ve chosen to accept or decline a gift, be prepared to respond respectfully. If you believe that rejecting a gift is the best way to go, politely decline and discuss with your client your reasons why. Are there misplaced feelings of self-value and acceptance? Be honest with your client.
On the other hand, if you do choose to accept a holiday present because you believe that it is a gesture of goodwill, accept the gift graciously, and say “thank you.” For instance, gifts from children always tend to be sincere and they have innocent and genuine intentions. Do consider that, too.
It’s Really Up to You
So, should you receive gifts from clients? The answer is it’s really up to you. How you handle this situation will also depend on you. Will you be firm on your no-gift policy? Or better yet, will you use your tools and insights to determine a client’s motivation in giving you a gift?
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, don’t stress too much about it. When in doubt, follow your heart!