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midweek Connect: 12/8/21 ~ Gifting across cultures

Greetings and Happy Midweek!

Well as December unrolls, in many cultures, preparations for celebrating different holiday Seasons include planning for gifts - to be given and received. In our Global SKILLs training, we focus in on topics like this as we explore the HOST (second) dimension of our 3 Dimensional Dynamics model.* Gifting can be quite simple, seemingly, but when looked at more closely and carefully - it is actually a fascinating, complex activity which has so many variables making for some potentially challenging cross-cultural dynamics! Based on something I read about recently, I thought we briefly explore the appropriate-ness aspect of ‘gifting’.

I began reflecting on this as I followed an actual incident this year of offering an inappropriate gift which, ironically, occurred within one of the leading foreign language teaching organizations here in the US. When it was pointed out, by an individual from the receiving culture, that the intended gift was very inappropriate - the ensuing discussion went in several directions.

One group felt that ‘a gift is a gift is a gift’ and even if inappropriate - when offered in sincerity - that’s ok. It should be graciously received. Another opinion, kind of along the same lines, was that if the gift is given to guests in one cultural context (for example, recently arrived immigrants), they should welcome it even if for them it is inappropriate, since they are guests in that context. The other group firmly disagreed, saying inappropriate gifts are simply that - inappropriate, and especially for those who work to teach or integrate cross-culturally, gifting needs to be researched, understood and done very carefully.

Well, I’ll leave you to think it through and come to your own conclusions…but I’ll just say, for myself, that gifting is never done in a vacuum and it is definitely important to consider things also like relationships, mutual understanding, trust, esteem and what the gift’s purpose is.

As you navigate all this...Happy gifting!

How about you ~ any recent cross-cultural gifting experiences you have had?!

Share about that with a friend or note it here.

And check out the Global SKILLs LINKs below for more gifting perspectives.

Thanks for being part of this Connect community.

Until next week,


* Global SKILLs 3 Dimensional Dynamics Model: 1st dimension = HOME ; 2nd dimension = HOST (which we looked at today); 3rd dimension = HARBOR)

~ contact me for more information on this model and how you might use it in your current programming


~ Notes on the etiquette of cross-cultural gifting - giving and receiving:in a business context :

~ A helpful guide with several cultural gifting insights:

~ An academic ‘history’ and discussion of gift-giving (mostly from a western perspective!):

2021 ~ Celebrating 40 years of working in

intercultural communications and global community building

Connecting, Collaborating, Cultivating Community

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