Is Toni Bowers alone in disliking the practice of gift exchanges in the office?
My colleagues, ever eager to rattle a stick in my cage, often forward me links to controversial stories that they think will make good conversation points in my blog. They know I can't resist. So the last link I got was to a story about the Nine worst holiday gifts from bosses. The gifts outlined in the piece (e.g., a gift certificate for a banana) were worse than not receiving any gift at all. Sort of like putting a dime on the table as a tip for a waiter.
I remember one place I worked years ago that gave away free turkeys at Christmas. First, they'd give you a ticket and then you had to stand in line to shake the two VPs' hands and then they'd hand you the turkey. And believe me, it was more about "Look how altruistic we are!" than "We appreciate all you do."
Call me a curmudgeon (I've been called worse and by members of this audience), but I'm just not an office gift-receiving/giving type of person. It's not that I'm cheap. The practice just makes me uncomfortable — even on the receiving end. I'm much more in favor of doing a holiday team lunch for which I pick up the tab. Don't get me wrong — you want to give me a monetary bonus with many digits? Some form of chocolate? Bring it on. I'll take it and not look back.
But the whole thing where team members all buy each other something and the boss buys them something and they buy the boss something...ah, it's just too much. And I hear from a lot of guys in the TR audience who are so confounded by what they can and can't say to a female coworker that sometimes they don't even say hello. Can you imagine the paralysis that would result from having to buy a gift that was meaningful but not too personal? And, frankly, I don't blame them. It's just such a fine line.
So, what's the verdict? Am I just a scrooge?