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Last Updated on February 25, 2018

Never Give Unwanted Gifts Again: 5 Rules to Make a Good Gift for Men

Never Give Unwanted Gifts Again: 5 Rules to Make a Good Gift for Men

Buying gifts for the opposite sex is tricky business. Ladies, does it ever seem like we go above and beyond and still miss the mark? Choosing the best gifts for the men in your life may seem daunting, but it’s possible to overcome the struggle and find the perfect present. Could it be that men and women view gifts differently?

Sometimes it seems like men and women are speaking different languages in terms of what they want. Most loved ones–husbands, boyfriends, fathers, and brothers– will appreciate your effort no matter what, but most of us really want to surprise and impress the recipients of our efforts. We spend time listening for clues about what he might want. We guess and second guess until frustration and time get the better of us.

One of the most common pitfalls for us as women is that we try to figure out what the men in our lives want based on what we value in a gift. There will arguably be some overlap between what men and women want in gifts, but there are also a lot of cultural and social norms tied to gender that affect the way gifts are given and received.

Why men don’t need surprises like women

When we think about giving gifts to men, we think about the presents from our perspective. Women are moved by a man’s intentions and efforts regardless of the gift. Men seem more interested in presents that demonstrate your understanding of their needs. They like practical gifts that contribute to their personal and professional life.

When you start to panic about getting the perfect gift, think about much of the gift-giving process is for him and how much of it is for you. It may make you happy to spend hours on a project, but if he isn’t interested, then the gift probably satisfies a need that you have, not his.

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Instead of wasting time planning an elaborate surprise or spending months knitting him the ultimate sweater, think about what he really needs. Sure, he’ll appreciate your kindness, but he might not appreciate it the same way that you would appreciate it if he crocheted a scarf for you.

5 mental notes to choose the perfect gift for men

We tend to over complicate our gift-buying, but it is possible to come up with an ideal gift without going off the rails.

1. Understand his needs first. Are there items that will help him enjoy his hobbies or perform better at work? Does he want to try to take his hobby in a new direction, and is there something that facilitates that shift?

2. Don’t overthink it. Guys are pretty straightforward when it comes to what they want and need. They are probably not going to analyze your gifts in the same way that you deconstruct the meanings behind the things he gives to you. You don’t have to spend months making a collage of your life together (unless he has expressed that he really wants that). Sometimes less is more.

3. Observe what they like to buy for themselves.[1] If your guy buys video games on a regular basis, then get him something related to gaming. When a man makes a financial investment in his hobbies, you can guarantee that he’ll appreciate a present related to them.

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    Photo credit: Source

    4. Notice how they spend their time. Your guy may not be the type who likes to spend lots of money on a regular basis, but he has to spend his time somewhere. Whether he’s career oriented, sporty, or into cars, he’ll probably wear his heart on his sleeve about his interests.[2]

    5. Figure out what they need. You know what piques his interest, and there are probably things that he needs to take those interests to the next level. If he likes something that you don’t know much about, you can do some basic research to learn more. You don’t have to get him something that is way beyond your level of understanding. You can make a safer buying choice and still cater to his needs.

    For example, my boyfriend loves photography. I knew that he would appreciate some camera gear because he spends his spare cash and limited free time on taking photos. I thought about getting him a new lens, but they vary so much in price and functionality that I didn’t feel comfortable choosing one.

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    Instead of buying him a new lens, I did a bit of research and found a nice tripod that would work with his camera. He absolutely loved it. It enabled him to practice new photography techniques and make use of the other gear that he already had. It didn’t take tons of money or an inordinate amount of time and photography experience to get him a gift that he truly enjoyed.

    Still at a loss? No worries! We have gift suggestions that cover most of the guys out there for you

    Breaking out of a cycle of overthinking gifts can be tough, but it doesn’t have to be rocket science.

    For career oriented guys:

    • Consider the nature of the work that they do. A doctor, a sales manager, and a fitness trainer are going to have different wants and needs.
    • Think about what will help him achieve his career goals or become more efficient. Does he complain about a specific tool that he uses, and can you find a nice replacement? Is there something you could get him to help him do his job more easily or quickly?

    Imagine that your dad is an outstanding carpenter. For years he handpicks the wood that he uses for his work, and cuts and trims them down himself.  Maybe you notice that one of his handsaws looks old and worn and he complains that it doesn’t work as well as it used to.  Before you make a decision to get a new one for him, figure out if he is looking to replace it first.  If he is, he probably has a preference for a particular brand which he finds is the most reliable.  In fact, it’s very likely he prefers exactly the same brand and model that he’s replacing!  Remember, men don’t think like women.

      Photo credit: Source

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      For guys who have a particular hobby:

      Think about what will help him enjoy his hobby even more than he already does. We’ll consider sports-oriented gifts here since many men enjoy athletics.

      • What is going to help him achieve his fitness goals? The body builder, the distance runner, the yogi, and the reformed couch potato are going to have different needs. Are there things you can buy that will help him eat well and get the proper amount of exercise? Think about things he might want to use at the gym.
      • A new towel, a protein shake bottle, a water bottle, weights, a fitness tracker, or information about a new workout routine are good options. Even if he has some of these things already, does it hurt to have a spare towel or Blender Bottle?

      For guys who have a specific interest in cars, sneakers, or tech:

      This category can be tricky because the guy might know a lot more about these items than you. It can also be tough if you aren’t certain of his brand-preferences or what types of things he has in his inventory. You don’t have to be a tech geek, a sneaker expert, or a car enthusiast to get him a great gift.

      • Think about what he could use to take care of the things that he loves. If he loves cars, a nice car-cleaning kit could be a good option.
      • With a little bit of research, you can find some basic items with good reviews. Simple is often times better if you feel uncertain about the items in which he’s interested.

      A man with a passion for sneakers may tell you that he has his heart set on shoes of a specific brand, color, style, and size. If you have enough information, by all means, get him the shoes. If you’re really not sure, go with a safe bet like a Jason Markk Sneaker Cleaning Kit. The product comes highly recommended by sneaker heads everywhere, and he’s always going to be able to use products to keep his shoes clean.

      Gift-giving doesn’t have to be so nerve-racking for you

      Save yourself time and money by targeting your purchases to reflect things that he really wants or needs. Trust me, he’ll appreciate small random gestures, but he’ll love getting practical gifts even more. Think about how gifts can benefit the men in your life in the long-run. Do these items support interests or fulfil a need? Is this something he would buy for himself anyway if he could? If you can say “yes” to both of these questions, you are on the right track.

      There’s no need to over complicate the process with your own ideas about what you would like to receive. You can get the men in your life thoughtful gifts without getting bogged down. When it comes to getting gifts for men, keep it simple.

        Photo credit: Source

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        Anna Chui

        Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the editor of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

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        Last Updated on January 15, 2019

        How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

        How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

        Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

        In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

        Step right up, don’t be shy!

        Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

        The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

        Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

        Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
        So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

        A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

        Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

        Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

        When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

        Culturally Conditioned

        We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

        I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

        The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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        Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

        Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

        Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

        1. Broadens Your Network

        After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

        2. Improves Your Communication Skills

        I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

        Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

        3. Continually Learning

        So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

        Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

        4. Increases Self Confidence

        Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

        Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

        So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

        How to Talk to Strangers

        Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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        1. Say Hello

        Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

        Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

        Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

        2. Ask About Them

        Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

        You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

        As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

        3. Just Do It

        One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

        When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

        Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

        4. Don’t Take It Personal

        One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

        When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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        5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

        I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

        One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

        6. Detach

        A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

        Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

        7. Share Your Stories

        Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

        To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

        So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

        8. Give a Compliment

        Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

        When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

        9. Relax Your Body Language

        If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

        When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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        If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

        10. Practice, Practice, Practice

        Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

        Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

        After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

        The Bottom Line

        As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

        There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

        Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

        Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

        More Resources About Strengthening Communication Skills

        Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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