The power of giving to create connection


Founder and CEO of Packed with a purposewhere corporate gifts foster meaningful relationships and create deep social impact.

I had one of those days where nothing seemed to go the way I wanted it to. As I was about to burst into tears, my daughter walked up to me, saw the sadness in my eyes, and handed me her favorite tie-dye sticker. This thoughtful, selfless act of making me feel better was one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received — not necessarily because of the item itself, but rather because of the emotion and intent behind it.

Whether it’s a verbal acknowledgment, a handwritten note, or a beautifully wrapped gift, gift giving can take many forms and has the unique ability to create a bond between two people. Human connection is a bond that arises when people feel seen and valued. It’s authentic. It’s positive. It builds trust. And it is needed now more than ever – in our personal lives and in the workplace.

A new study (registration required) by Airspeed and Workplace Intelligence revealed that “Feelings of isolation and loneliness plague the modern workforce, even among employees who see each other in person.” However, we can combat this problem by increasing social companionship and personal connection, which can ultimately increase employee morale, retention and productivity.

The power in giving and receiving gifts

Doing something for others has the ability to lift one’s mood. Bringing the same practice to the workplace can promote better collaboration and performance within teams.

In a recent off-site with my leadership team, I started by asking, What’s the most memorable thing you’ve ever received? It became clear in listening to the responses that while “a gift” can mean different things to different people (i.e. a handwritten note, an unforgettable experience, a sentimental altercation), the common impetus for making it memorable was how it made them to feel.

Research shows that both giving and receiving gratitude have a tangible impact on our physical, emotional and social health – from boosting immunity and heart health to improving self-esteem, resilience and sleep quality, as well as strengthening of relationships and promoting healthier communication styles.

When people show gratitude to others, it is activates brain regions associated with fun, social connection and trust. Sending a thoughtful, personalized note or giving back to the community gives us a sense of reward and increases our happiness. All of this has a ripple effect and the impact is amplified from person to person across an entire community – it’s a beautiful thing.

This same concept applies in the workplace. Considered the “gift effect(download required), researchers Michela Balconi and Giulia Fronda found that exchanging good deeds leads to an increase in cooperation and even behavioral performance. Their study shows how behaviors such as helping or comforting others not only improve relationships and social connections, but can also positively impact things like our attention span, memory and problem-solving abilities. Think about the power that saying “thank you” or buying lunch can have to achieve better levels of performance for your team or employees.

The business benefits of creating connection moments

The way we experience the world around us has shifted to a 2D experience. Daily zoom calls, constant email notifications, and feeds on social post feeds fight for our attention. There’s even one increase in direct mail tactics to try and cut through the clutter.

Work interactions have become increasingly transactional and it is becoming increasingly difficult to create a sense of belonging within our teams. The Airspeed study (registration required) notes that 88% of the C-suite say improving culture and connection is a top priority this year.

Building relationships (with colleagues, customers, partners) can be very rewarding. After all, people do business with people, not companies. And given the amount of time we spend together, it’s important that these relationships make us feel good.

Acknowledging an employee’s contributions with a thank-you note or surprising your co-worker with an unexpected care package are great ways to bring a 3D experience back into our lives and really form a meaningful connection with someone.

In addition to creating a sense of connection with your employees, sending a gift to customers and partners also has a powerful impact. A recent survey conducted by Sendoso shows how promotional gifts create a way for people to connect professionally. Of the companies surveyed, 83% of those who received a gift felt closer to the company that sent it. In addition, the survey revealed the importance for gift recipients that support sustainability and diverse or family-owned businesses and are aligned with their own values.

Take the time to put into words why you are sending this gift so that you make the most of an impression. I always say the greatest real estate is the message card itself – it’s the chance to really spell Why you are thankful or thinking of someone, and that is the most important part of the actual “gift exchange.”

So as you enter the holiday season and think about ways to show your appreciation and gratitude, don’t worry about finding the perfect gift; instead, focus on finding the words that indicate why you’re sending it. Be thoughtful, make it personal, and really take the time to show that you care. Because if you do, it can leave a lasting impression on the recipient, bringing you closer together and strengthening your relationship in general. Business Council is the leading growth and networking organization for entrepreneurs and leaders. Am I eligible?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here