People may give gifts to others during times of grief, celebration or just to say thank you. When you present a loved one or another person with a gift face to face, you’re able to see their reaction for yourself. This can bring feelings of delight and appreciation.
If you send flowers or send a gift to a person you care about via the post or a shipping provider, you may not be sure how they feel about your present. In some cases, you may not even know if they received it. This raises the question of whether it is rude to ask someone if they received your gift.
It Is Not Rude to Ask
Gift-giving can strengthen relationships. However, if one party does not even acknowledge the gift, that can harm the relationship. It is not rude to ask someone if they received your gift since it helps to undo any harm that may have been done.
The harm can occur whether their actions were intentional or accidental.
Other-focused expressions of gratitude help to build relationships. For example, when the recipient of a gift says:
“Thank you. You always know what I like”
it strengthens the relationship between you.
Did They Like It?
Sometimes a person may not say thanks because they don’t like the gift. While this is not a good way of dealing with it, sometimes they feel embarrassed about saying that they don’t like it, so they just don’t say anything at all.
If you don’t ask, you won’t know and you may keep on sending the same type of thing. For example, you may send a kayak to someone who you know is an avid hiker. You may think that the person just likes outdoor sports in general but the truth may be that they are not interested in water sports.
They may think that by not saying anything to you about the gift, you’ll get the hint. If you send them a jet ski on their next birthday, they may feel like you’re trying to force them to do something that they don’t want to do. Ask directly if they liked what they received. It’s not rude to do so.
You can say:
“Hi Mary, did you like the red kayak I sent you?”
“Hi Mary, what do you think about the birthday gift that I sent to you?”
This gives her the chance to say, that she doesn’t like kayaks or doesn’t like red and prefers black. You will learn more about the individual and be able to have a better relationship with them as a result, one that is based on truth and understanding.
Difficulty with Expressing Gratitude
Some people have differences in their brains and even in their genes that make it difficult for them to express gratitude. This is not said to excuse their behavior because it simply means they would have to make an extra effort to say thanks.
Nicholas Eppley and Amit Kumar conducted experiments at the University of Chicago which showed that people sometimes underestimate the powerful effect that saying thanks can have. The experiments also showed that sometimes people overestimate how awkward the people being thanked would feel.
It means that sometimes, not taking it personally helps. You don’t know exactly how the other person thinks. Still, gently ask whether they received your gift but don’t see their lack of response or appreciation as being something that is always directly related to you.
Is the Other Person Being Rude?
Some people are just plain rude. They are the ones who are likely to respond to your query with a harsh statement. Asking these individuals whether they received your gift is especially helpful because you’ll learn a lot about how they see you. If you don’t say anything to them, you’ll continue relating to them with a lot of misconceptions about who they are.
You may think that they’re the type of person who is appreciative when instead, they are someone who feels entitled. You don’t owe anyone a gift. Despite that, because you care about them, you made the effort to choose and send something that you thought would brighten their day.
If someone is rude to you when you ask about the gift, it’s an indication that you may need to adjust your gift-giving in the future. You could speak about your feelings since even rude people can adjust their behavior if they want to do better. If they realize that their behavior has hurt you, they can sometimes adjust and be more appreciative in the future.
People communicate differently. Some people may not think it is necessary to say thank you whenever they receive something. They may not have been raised that way and even though growing up, they may see good manners exhibited among others, sometimes they still frequently interact with people who aren’t polite. As a result, they think nothing of not saying thank you.
If you plan to maintain a relationship with that person, it’s good to let them know your expectations early. One way of doing this is by simply addressing the issue. Ask directly if they received your gift and what they thought of it. That way, you will know what they like or don’t like. You will learn what type of person they are and how they communicate.
You can say:
“Hi Brenda. How are you? Did you get my birthday gift?”
“What’s up Sam? Do you like the new golf clubs I sent?”
“Hi Tyler, I sent over some basketballs for the kids in your community group. Did they like them?”
They will learn what your expectations are. They will know that you expect them to express thanks for the gift or at least let you know that they received it.
Avoid Unnecessary Hurt Feelings
If someone is unaware that they are expected to say thanks, they won’t know that your feelings have been hurt. They might not see a lack of appreciation as a big deal. In that case, they would have done something that damaged your relationship and they would not even know.
If you don’t say something, you may deal with your hurt in other ways. For example, you may make passive-aggressive comments. If the recipient of your gift is truly unaware, the remarks will never hit home.
They will slowly start to get offended by your treatment of them. Your relationship could deteriorate over time just because you didn’t find a good way to talk about the issue.
Even if time has passed, you can still find a tactful way to bring it up. You can say:
“You know Maria, a couple months ago I sent you a gift. I don’t know if you got it or not.”
“Bjork, your birthday is coming up. I don’t know what to get you. Last year I sent you a luggage set but you never told me if you liked it”.
There’s also the possibility that your gift got lost in the mail or otherwise misplaced. Sometimes you might send a gift to another person and the individual deliberately does not give it to the intended recipient. At other times, the individual may forget after the stress of travel, preparing for a major event, or just didn’t like it and regifting the item.
You may have sent a cash gift to someone and expected that they would see it in their account and be pleasantly surprised. Many people do not check their accounts regularly. They may not even notice that extra money is inside it.
You will need to say something.
By asking whether your gift was received, you avoid the unfortunate situation where you think they got the gift but didn’t. In that type of situation, the intended recipient may even think that you forgot about them completely, when that wasn’t the case at all.
There are some types of gifts where you may be less likely to receive verbal or written thanks. You may not always choose to ask whether your gift was received in those specific cases.
For example, if you send a gift to cheer up someone who is grieving, they may not always call or write to say they got it.
In the case of grief, it is sometimes better to give the person some breathing room. Sometimes after a person has lost a loved one or even their job, they may be in a state of depression. While your gift may have helped to bring them some cheer, they really may not want to talk to anyone. They may not even be able to find the inner strength to make a phone call or check or send emails.
Similarly, if you are sending your gift as a way of saying thank you, it’s not usually necessary to ask if the recipient received it. The thank-you gift is already expressing appreciation for something that the other person did for you, so they see your gift as acknowledging what they did.
Sophie Hammond is a journalist, psychologist, and freelance speechwriter for people in politics and business. She lives on the edge of the Rocky Mountains with her dog and a lifetime supply of books. When she’s not writing, she can be found wandering through nature or journaling at a coffee shop.