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Have you ever received a completely TERRIBLE gift? One that seemed like it MUST have been intended for someone else? How could they POSSIBLY know you and think you would like that gift? How we respond, however, can make a HUGE difference in our relationships. And some of us have to LEARN how to receive gifts graciously! Let’s figure out how…

I mentioned in The Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide for Every Personality that I really struggle with receiving gifts, and how often I have been scolded for my less-than-gracious responses to gifts over the years. So, let me tell you about the Christmas I broke my mother’s heart and what I learned from that horrible day…

We were all spread around my grandmother’s living room, and Mom brought out huge boxes for each of us. Eagerly, we opened them one by one.

My brothers opened their gifts to reveal beautiful quilts in varying earth-tone shades perfectly suited to their Personalities. My soon-to-be sister-in-law opened her box to find a brightly-colored, floral quilt — a beautiful reflection of her vibrant personality and her love for gardening.

Then, it was my turn. I unwrapped the box and took off the box lid. Inside was a tomato-red & denim blue quilt.

I sat there stunned.

All I could think was the colors were quite possibly the most NOT-me combination I had ever seen. But my mother had made it especially for me.

Did she not know me well enough to know I wouldn’t like those colors? The other gifts had seemed so perfectly suited to their new owners. Why couldn’t I just be happy and appreciate all the hard work that went into this gift??

My mom took one look at my face and KNEW I didn’t like it. She quickly said I didn’t have to keep that quilt. She offered to take it back and make me a new one, whatever I wanted.

Looking at my mom’s expression, I knew I had hurt her. I felt incredibly unknown in that moment, and also deeply ashamed for not being able to better conceal my feelings about this special gift. I sobbed for the better part of that day both for my own hurt and that I had wounded my own mother.

I mean, seriously, WHO breaks their mother’s heart over a color scheme? On CHRISTMAS??

Apparently, me. ?

You don't mean to hurt their feelings, but you do NOT like their gift! You're not alone. Some of us have to LEARN how to receive gifts graciously.

Photo courtesy of Brad & Jane Stufflebam

Why Melancholies Struggle with Receiving Gifts

Melancholy… what now?? If this term is Greek to you — hint: it IS Greek! — be sure to check out this post that overviews all 4 Personality types. Then, snag this FREE Personalities Simplified Cheatsheet to help you remember which one is which and how you can best interact with them!  

For us Incurable Melancholies, receiving gifts that don’t fit our Personalities or our preferences makes it feel as if the giver doesn’t really know us at all. If they knew us, surely they would know what we like, right?

Unfortunately, not necessarily.

We Melancholies also keep our inner thoughts, feelings, and preferences pretty close to the vest. Unless someone is a trusted confidant, we may never actually TELL them what we like or don’t like. We may hint at it. We may indirectly allude to it. But we may never just come out and say it. (Ironically, even when we THINK we’re being forthright about something, we aren’t necessarily being direct!)

Sometimes we expect that people will just pick up on our preferences from being around us. If they are a regular part of our world, they would REALIZE that we love Disney movies and acappella music, right?

Again, not necessarily.

Melancholies tend to be very observant and detail-oriented. WE may pick up on the subtle preferences of those in our world, but other Personality types tend to be more focused on other things.

We cannot expect everyone to think and act like we do.

That’s a lesson I have had to learn the hard way over and over again. We all think and act in our own unique ways. Often, the way we think and interact with the world falls along Personality lines. But even then, we are all our own unique mix of Personality traits and experiences.

We can NEVER expect someone else to think and act the same way we do.

If we can’t expect everyone to be as observant as we are, and we continue to only subtly reveal our likes and dislikes to those around us, we CAN expect that we will continue to receive gifts that don’t align with our wants or needs.

You don't mean to hurt their feelings, but you do NOT like their gift! You're not alone. Some of us have to LEARN how to receive gifts graciously.

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How to Receive Gifts with Grace

In order to avoid continually hurting those we care about, it is imperative that we learn how to graciously receive gifts — even when we don’t like them.

1) Keep in mind the Love Language & Emotional Needs of the person giving you the gift.

Most of the time, we naturally tend to give gifts that speak our own Love Language and reflect our own Emotional Needs. It takes a LOT of effort to put the other person’s needs first and to speak (and give gifts based on) their Love Language.

Not sure about this Love Language thing? Be sure to check out Gary Chapman’s book, The 5 Love Languages. It will do AMAZING things for ALL your relationships!

If you’re still stumbling over these crazy, Greek words for the Personalities, remember to check out this post to get an overview of each Personality type and how to recognize them. Also be sure to read this post about the Emotional Needs of each Personality type. Then, move on to the next piece of being a gracious gift recipient…

2) Thank the giver by addressing their Emotional Needs.

Have you caught on by this point that understanding each Personality’s Emotional Needs is KEY to building healthy relationships?

Meeting someone’s Emotional Needs is the equivalent of filling their “Love Tank,” as Gary Chapman puts it in The Five Love Languages. Positive interactions = more love in their tank. Negative interactions — breaking your mom’s heart on Christmas ? = less love in their tank.

Running on empty or very low “love tank” reserves means BAD NEWS for the health of your relationship. You’ll likely have a LOT of repair work to do in that relationship before there is open communication and trust again. (Again, I speak from experience here!)

Let’s take a closer look at how we can use the Emotional Needs of each Personality to know how to thank them for their gift (yes, even the one you don’t necessarily like!) in a way that feels genuine to you and affirming for them.

Remember, if you don’t want to BE the one giving a gift that misses the mark, double-check your gift choices with the tips in The Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide for Every Personality!

Thanking a Popular Sanguine

If your gift giver is a Sanguine, be sure to pull out every ounce of enthusiasm you have to spare, look them straight in the eyes when you thank them, and maybe even give them a hug. Let them know you appreciate their desire to make you happy — because they DO, even if they miss the mark with their gift. They really do want to see you smile!

Thanking a Perfect Melancholy

If the gift comes from another Melancholy, remember they STILL don’t think or act exactly like you, and you can’t expect them to have read your mind. More likely than not, they agonized over finding the perfect gift for you. Melancholies do NOT like getting things wrong!

Even if you don’t like the gift, be sure to thank them sincerely for all their effort and let them know how much you value your relationship. They need to know that you love and support them no matter what!

Thanking a Powerful Choleric

Cholerics can be so task-oriented that they forget about gifts they need to buy until the very last minute. Gifts do not tend to be one the Choleric’s Love Languages, so if they made even a small attempt, be sure to acknowledge it! If you can tell they did put a lot of time and energy into your gift, thank them by expressing appreciation for the hard work and the sacrifice of time they put in for you.

Cholerics highly value their time and like best to put their energy toward productive ventures, so if they spent those precious resources making a gift for you, know you are GREATLY loved!

Thanking the Peaceful Phlegmatic

The Phlegmatic gift giver values you as a person above all. Their gifts may be a reflection of the value they place on your relationships, or if the giver doesn’t care overly much about gifts in general, their gifts may just reflect their desire to not harm your relationship by showing up empty-handed.

Either way, Phlegmatics need to know that you value THEM as a person, not the gift. Be sure to thank them for their loyalty and steadfast presence in your life.

You don't mean to hurt their feelings, but you do NOT like their gift! You're not alone. Some of us have to LEARN how to receive gifts graciously.

3) Purpose to be more transparent and open from now on!

Knowing that this well-intentioned gift-giver apparently does not know your preferences or interests as well as you had thought, it’s time to focus on being more transparent and open with them from now on. Let them see what you love. Talk about the things that intrigue you openly and in depth when you have the opportunity.

Melancholies tend to become much more outgoing and excitable when we start talking about something we love. We are fabulous storytellers, and often people can’t believe we are talking as much as we are — especially if they are just getting to know us and happened upon a topic we can’t stop talking about!

So, take a deep breath and tell them a story. Tell them why you love this particular thing so much. It can feel very risky to open up to someone at first, but if you value your relationship with this person, it’s time to let them fully into your world. You owe it to both of you!

Also, you just never know…

It should be noted that sometimes people give us gifts that we don’t necessarily like or appreciate in the moment, but they grow on us, and we learn to love them! 

In the case of the tomato-red and denim-blue quilt my mom made for me, I’ve had that quilt for nearly a decade now, and I have grown to love it.

It’s still not the color scheme I would have chosen for myself, but I don’t even see the colors anymore. I see the love and the craftsmanship that went into creating it. I see my mother’s love for me in every stitch and tiny, colorful block. 

So while I still have a LOAD of regret from how I handled the situation all those years ago, I’m glad I chose to keep the gift. And I’m forever thankful for a forgiving mother who taught me about The Personalities and continues to teach me how to handle tricky situations with grace and love.

If you take care to be gracious in receiving your gifts this year, not only will your relationships be stronger, but you may just find a gift you never knew you would love. ?

You don't mean to hurt their feelings, but you do NOT like their gift! You're not alone. Some of us have to LEARN how to receive gifts graciously.

Photo courtesy of Brad & Jane Stufflebam

Do you struggle to receive some gifts with grace? Tell me in the comments!

And don’t forget to grab your FREE Personalities Simplified Cheatsheet! You’ll be able to easily remember which type is which, how to recognize them, and what their Emotional Needs are — SUPER helpful for this whole receiving gifts graciously thing!

You don't mean to hurt their feelings, but you do NOT like their gift! You're not alone. Some of us have to LEARN how to receive gifts graciously.

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As a former University Resident Director, Career Counselor, Certified Personality Trainer, and high school Spanish teacher, Laura has quite the “scattered” background — with one underlying theme: education! She writes to teach and inspire women on topics related to faith, family, and lifework. She is also a resume writer, specializing in resumes for moms, career changers, and new graduates.

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