It’s Emily’s birthday and husband Ted has a big surprise for her. Sitting on the kitchen table are two beautifully wrapped boxes. One large, one small. As Emily enthusiastically runs her fingers over the delicate silk ribbons and bows, Ted admits he had the store gift wrap them for her. As Emily eagerly unwraps the larger box, Ted is beaming. However, Emily’s smile soon disappears. “A frying pan? You bought me a frying pan? Are you now telling me you want me to cook more for you? Next, you’ll be telling me the other box is a toaster.” When Ted falls silent she knows she’s right. “A frying pan and a toaster,” remarks a disappointed Emily. “You know, I just don’t get you sometimes.” Trying to save the situation, Ted explains, “The guy at the store said that was the most expensive frying pan and the latest toaster on the market – you can even toast bagels.” Walking out of the room Emily replies, “Yeah, I get it. In addition to cooking more for you to eat, you now expect me to toast bagels for you too. Thanks a lot.”
Okay, so here’s what just happened.
A majority of men like power tools and tinkering at their workbench. From their point of view, the kitchen is a woman’s “workbench.” Just like the latest power tool he’d like to add to his collection to make projects easier, he sees the latest “must have” kitchen gadget/appliance as something that will make working in the kitchen simpler. So basically Ted’s thought process is: “I know I’d like a new skill saw… what would Emily like? She spends so much time in the kitchen. I’ll show her how much I appreciate all that she does and get something to make things better for her. I don’t know anything about cooking, but the guy said this is the most expensive frying pan they have, so it must be good. I know she’ll like that. Emily also said something about the toaster. I’ll get her a new one.”
Most women think in more abstract terms than men. And while most men like gadgets, most women like romance, pampering and things like lingerie. A frying pan and toaster, or any type of appliance (unless specifically asked for), really don’t fall into those categories. So, Emily sees Ted’s gifts as uncaring and selfish. Her thought process is: “Why would he buy me a frying pan? He got me this so I’ll cook more for him. It’s always about him. I should take this frying pan and hit him over the head with it.”
Even if Ted clarifies his reasoning, explaining that he wanted to get something to make her life more trouble-free, Emily would probably still be disappointed. Why? He didn’t get her something romantic or pampering. Appliances aren’t lingerie. (Note: I’m not being sexist. Why do you think women buy men socks and underwear? Exactly.)
So the moral of the story: When it comes to gift buying, sometimes it’s best to ask the other person what they’d like or need, instead of assuming you know from your point of view. Also, if someone gives you a gift from their heart, simply say “thank-you.”
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