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How to Politely Decline a Gift?

In this century, declining a gift is often considered rude. However, there are exceptions in some other cultures, which consider refusing a gift before accepting it to be the norm. Giving a gift is often a sign of love, friendship, and compassion, but there are some situations where declining the gift might be easier than awkwardly accepting it.

You can use the ‘thank you’ note when declining a gift politely. Thank the buyer for the thought, stating the reasons why you are rejecting the gift. Besides sending them a thank you note, you can say ‘no’ to the person giving the gift. But let the ‘no’ sound be polite and with compassion.

If you are looking for more techniques to decline a gift politely and maybe possible reasons why people reject gifts, then this article is for you. You will learn incredible ways to do so. In the end, you will know whether it is wrong not to accept a gift or not. Keep reading!

How to Politely Decline a Gift?

Why People Don’t want a Gift?

Remember, if you do not want your friend or colleague to continue giving you gifts when you do not wish to accept the gifts, you should always consider your reaction’s ramifications to the present.

The following are some of the reasons why people don’t want gifts;

To Avoid the Expectation of Giving Back

Have you ever met people with the mentality that nothing is for free? These types of people have the idea that things need to be earned and deserved.

Therefore, if somebody has given them a gift, this means that they are now in debt to that person and owe them a gift in return. So, they will always decline a gift to avoid the expectation of giving back.

Most People Fear Attention or Being in the Spotlight

One of the common reasons for not liking receiving gifts is the fear of attention or being in the spotlight. Some people might not fear the expectation of giving back, but they dread attention or being in the spotlight. Often they will feel uncomfortable with everyone watching while you open a present and the expectations of how to act.

Occasionally, most people think about themselves and their feelings. Therefore, gifting such people might be a challenge.

If the Gift has Strings Attached

I remember dating an amazing man a few years ago. Everything was excellent until he started a game of trying to buy my affection by increasingly buying me expensive gifts. Upon realizing it, I started shunning the idea of getting gifts from him.

Most people will not accept gifts with strings attached, especially in a relationship. They will not receive any present for the feeling the relationship is transactional rather than romantic.

After the relationship is over they don’t want to accept a gift from their ex.

A Person not loving themselves like others

If you do not love yourself as much as others, it can be a reason why you do not enjoy receiving gifts. As we said earlier, gift-giving is an act of love; therefore, if a person doesn’t feel like they deserve to receive love, they may find it challenging to receive a gift.

In social contexts such as receiving gifts, self-love is the most valuable and powerful gift anyone can give themselves. So, if you do not love yourself, it will not be easy to accept a gift.

If they already have the Item

Even though it is unusual to ask somebody what you should get for them as a gift, most people will not want a present that they already have. Therefore, if someone notices that you have given them an item they already have, they might not receive it. Even if they receive the item, it will only be for the sake of not annoying the giver.

I once bought my little daughter a pink teddy bear as her birthday present. I later realized that she did not put it among her best toys. Reason!? I had bought her the same type of teddy bear as her Christmas gift.

Feeling of Embarrassment of Appearing Selfish or Superficial

Sometimes most people do not want to receive gifts because they may feel embarrassed of coming across as selfish or superficial. If these people like the gift, they may be afraid that it shows they do not value relationships if they want an object.

If you are in such a position, remember that gift-giving and receiving are more often about the relationship than the object itself. So, do not feel embarrassed!

If the Gift is from Their Ex

Most people will decline gifts that come from their ex. Such people live with the mantra that it is better to let the sleeping dogs lay. Therefore, any gift from the person who reminds them of their heartbroken past cannot be acceptable.  

If you are among the persons who detest your ex’s gift, you can straight away express your feelings and let the person know that you do not want to accept gifts in the future.

If they don’t Like the Giver

The correlation between the giver and the receiver is an essential aspect of receiving a gift. If the receiver doesn’t like the giver, then they will not want any gift from them. On the other hand, a good rapport will automatically make the receiver glad to have the gift.

I learned this from my ex. While we were still dating, I loved everything he bought for me. He also loved the things I gave him as presents, either as his birthday gifts or Christmas gifts. When we broke up, I never wanted to get anything from him, much less a goodnight text.

If they don’t Like the Gift

Besides not liking the giver, most people will not accept anything that they don’t like. When I was growing up, my friend never accepted gifts from her aunt because her aunt didn’t know what my friend liked. The worst part is that she never even asked what she liked.

If you give a gift to a person who doesn’t like it, they will not use it, and it will end up sitting around until they give it away. Different people have different priorities, and most people will not accept a gift that doesn’t sever their preferences.

If the Giver wants to prove themselves to others

Do you know the “hey everyone, I am the best person” gift? They are types of gifts given for show-offs.

Persons with such characters will buy a gift to prove to other people that they got you something, and they won’t even think twice before mentioning to other people what they got for you and how much effort they put into acquiring the gift for you. 

Not many people will accept a gift from givers who want to prove themselves to others. I have dealt with such people before, and sometimes I just want to give them back their gift. After all, why were you getting it in the first place?

If the Gift is not personal

If you give a gift for the sake of just giving, the recipient might not receive it for the reason of lack of personal touch.

I remember a friend who graduated and got a good-paying job before everyone else in our group did. He had an attitude of buying unnecessarily expensive and impersonal gifts to prove that he could afford expensive things. The guy didn’t care what he was buying for you; as long as it was expensive, he’d buy it.

Feeling of Unworthiness

Some people will not accept a gift because of the feeling that they don’t deserve it. Such persons will not receive any gift, regardless of the quality of the gift.

My son is an example. One day I bought him a gift to encourage him on his academic performance. However, he thought he did not deserve the present simply because he performed averagely.

Is it Bad Not to Accept a Gift?

Generally, it is bad not to accept a gift. Even if you do not like the present, it is essential to receive the gift to let the giver know how appreciative you are for the gift.

However, there are exceptions to this rule; the intentions behind and the receiver’s taste and preference, among others.  

I do not see why anyone should accept a gift they consider unnecessary, especially with a wrong intention or a hidden motive. But, if the reasons are pure and sane, then there is no need to reject the gift.

If you find someone trying to win favor or feel that there is a hidden agenda or something not quite right, it could be better to reject it. 

Additionally, some people give extravagant gifts to engender a feeling of obligation. In this case, you can turn such a gift down without worrying about appearing rude.

But, if you perceive the individual as a deliberate manipulator, accept the gift without the sense of obligation. What you need to say is “thank you very much” and move on.

On the other hand, a few people would consider not accepting a gift as a bad idea. These people believe that not liking a gift is not a reason enough to refuse it. In this case, you can either keep the gift safe or give it to someone else who might like it or organize some fun gift exchange or gift swap events.

After all, we all have every right to accept or not accept a gift.

How to Politely Decline a Gift?

Even if you do not like a gift and plan to decline it, you must do it politely and with lots of respect to the giver regardless of their intentions. Yes, I know there are moments when you feel uneasy accepting a gift, and you hear a little voice inside you who says, “Give it back”. Don’t decline, but do it politely.

But first, let’s look at why declining a gift is essential.

Reasons Why Declining a Gift Politely is Essential

Here’s why declining a gift with honesty and politely can be good for your relationship;

  1.  If you continue to accept a gift from your ex, for example, it might not appear right to your current partner.
  2. Suppose you let a friend or a colleague continue to get you expensive gifts all the time. In this case, there are chances of the gift giver exercising a dominating behavior in the relationship.
  3. Declining a gift at the workplace is also vital, especially if you do not want to get into trouble with the corporate policies.
  4. Accepting a gift from someone whose intentions are not clear might leave room for many assumptions in the relationship. For instance, if your date showers you with expensive gifts right after the first date, he might be rushing you into it.

And therefore;

Below are polite and straightforward ways to decline a gift;

Say “Thank You”

The best way to politely decline a gift is to say “thank you”. In this scenario, use a thank you note to apologize to them. The note will explain why you are in a situation where you could not accept their gift.

While using a thank you note to decline a gift, make the giver aware that you are thankful anyway. Also, thank them for the thought and state the real reason.

Your politeness will not only soothe their hearts but will also make them feel appreciated.

You can say something like, “It’s a nice thought, but I’m not going to accept this.” Or, “thank you, but I cannot accept this gift, I appreciate it though.”

Say “NO” Gently

The use of “NO” to decline a gift might sound rude and conventional, but it is one way to decline a gift politely. However, it would be best if you practiced the art of telling a ‘no’ to a gift in a gentle manner.

This is because declining a gift might hurt the person giving you the gift no matter what reason lies behind it. 

You can adhere to the following rules to prevent this one refusal from affecting the relationship. They work for me!

  • Give a smile: Did you know a smile can set things right? A smile is an excellent way to let the giver know that there are no hard feelings carried from the incident.
  • Accompany it with a thank you note: The fact that you do not accept the gift cannot change the fact that the person spent their money on the present. The persons might even have spent their time to get you the gift. So, please send the note!
  • Make sure you don’t send a return gift: if you happen to return the gift, you can send a return gift, especially if you want to calm your conscience. However, you stay away from the decision of buying them something as a token of apology.

Make Your Words Simple and Avoid Drama

Regardless of how you might want to approach the situation, make sure your words are simple and without drama. Sometimes it is not a must you explain yourself but if need be, keep it short. Further, you can also be firm in your decision.

Remember, some people would want to manipulate you to change your decision.

Talk to the Giver in Private

To avoid certain eventualities, you can also talk to the giver in private. This act will depict a level of maturity from your side. However, it would be best if you were keen and confident about yourself.

Explain to them politely why you do not accept their gift. Make the conversation enjoyable and understandable. You can even do it over a cup of coffee!

Show that You Regret Declining the Gift

There are moments where you can straight away express your feelings and let the person know that you do not want to accept gifts, but it is always prudent to show that you regret declining them.

Even without a written document, you can still express your reasons clearly and carefully. You can still show why you have to decline the gift and show your regret in going so.

Notify Your Superior

This rule applies mainly to the workplace. If you are declining a gift from a customer, you can explain your workplace practices to them. But, if they are persistent in their endeavor, you can notify your superior.

The superior might be able to politely explain to them the position of the company policies regarding their advancements.    

If the person is genuinely unaware of the situation, it might help them understand and avoid repeating this with anyone in the office.

Don’t be Brutally Frank

Did you know you can disagree without being disagreeable? Please do not be brutally frank, particularly when declining a gift from your ex or a person with whom you had a history. Being honest does not necessarily mean that you should say, “I do not like you,” or, “I cannot imagine being with you,” sort of thing.

You can just state that you value their friendship and acknowledge their feelings for you, but you want to keep the things between you neutral.

Explain to them why you don’t want a Gift

As we saw earlier, there are various reasons why people do not want a gift. If you are one of them, you can make your statement clear to the giver, but reasonably. If you cannot accept a gift because of expectations, let them know. Whatever the reason, let your point sink home politely.

Suggest Alternatives

If you do not want the giver to feel offended, you can suggest an alternative. Social experts believe that if you have an individual who is a habitually bad gift giver yet, you do not want to offend them, you can suggest options like giving back to society.

It might sound absurd, but it is one of the ways to go if you want to decline a gift.

You can ask for the Gift of Presence

Another way to decline a gift politely is to tell the giver you would prefer the gift of his or her presence. However, this might depend upon the individual and circumstances.

For instance, if the giver is someone close, who really does want to give you something you would like, you can probably skip these kinds of discussions and just ask for what you want. 







How to Politely Decline a Gift?
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