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送礼的心理学

2011-06-16 泉铭 我说两句( 0 )
个月前,我在纽约的办公室里采访一位国内来的上市公司董事长。采访结束后送到电梯口,他的助手从包里掏出一盒剪纸说送给我做纪念。我推了几次,说公司规定不可以接受礼物,他们连说这个不值钱,我只好收下。回来后给了第一位从我桌前走过的同事。

我好朋友的父母来纽约探亲,我请他们吃饭,饭后非要塞给我一条丝巾。我请父母朋友的孩子吃饭,也不得不收下一盒奥运会纪念品。我办公桌最下面的抽屉里还放着几条丝巾,都是国内来的团送的。并不是这些礼品不够好--样样都很精美,样样都代表着送礼人的心意。

Kurt Wilberding/WSJ.com
笔者的编辑对于这份礼物似乎有些不解
在中国送礼是一门学问,什么人什么情况下送什么礼都很有讲究。这里面不仅仅是礼大礼小的问题,更多的是一种敬意和问候。亲友间走动要送礼。一家公司到另一家公司初次拜访,也常常会拎着礼品去。很多人在送礼上很费心思,认为送的礼越重表达的情谊越深,而且还会给不同级别、不同性别的人买不同的礼物。

虽然我们常说礼多人不怪,但我这里主要想讲美国人对送礼和接受礼品的一些惯例,以免大家费很多心思,花很大力气拿了礼品来美国,却不能达到预期的效果。

在美国第一次见面就送人礼物是很少见的。用加州圣地亚哥州立大学商学院教授Lois Olson的话说,中国人送礼表达的意思更多的是“欢迎”和“很高兴认识你”,而美国人送礼表达的意思更多的是“谢谢你”。

在公务交往中,很多美国公司对接受礼品的价值有具体规定,送不好容易导致误解或造成尴尬场面。除了促销用的原珠笔等小礼品外,我接触的美国公司中很少正式送礼。即便送,也常常是认识以后,在过圣诞、新年时寄张贺卡,或事情办完后寄一张感谢卡,非常特殊的情况下送一瓶酒,一束花或一个果蓝。

很多公司(包括我报社)规定,员工可以接受的礼品价值上限是20到25美元。少数公司规定极其严格,例如沃尔玛雇员连客户的一杯咖啡都不能喝。因为怕麻烦,我和我的一些同事索性对外说礼品一概都不能收。有时候有公司寄来看起来比较贵的礼物,我们还要花钱花时间寄回去。不宜邮寄的礼物还得送到慈善组织捐掉。就我个人而言,对制造了这么多麻烦的礼品能领的情是非常有限的。

一些公司对员工送出礼品的价值也有严格规定,以免招惹不必要的麻烦。美国金融业自律组织全国券商协会在一份四页纸的文件里规定,券商送客户的礼品价值不能超过100美元。一位做公关的朋友在一位客户生病住院期间送了一个75美元的果篮,结果还被自己公司的财务部门追问了一番。

这并不是说美国就不存在用美酒佳肴和豪华旅游来拉关系的现象。只要涉及钱、权的地方就有发生这种事情的可能。每周四晚上,曼哈顿高级餐馆里总是坐满了用公司信用卡消费的证券业人士和律师。很多公司都会买热门体育比赛的包厢邀请客户参加,也有的在很好的旅游点举办客户会议,或陪重要客户到有名的高尔夫球场打球。但这些活动里哪些算“过分”,哪些算“适度”,全国券商协会没有象对礼品一样有具体规定,只是说此类活动只要不是太经常或太铺张就属正常商务活动。

Kurt Wilberding/WSJ.com
 

三年前金融界爆出的一大丑闻是,华尔街上的中型证券经纪公司Jefferies为招揽Fidelity基金公司的经纪生意,给一位职员一年150万美元的客户娱乐预算用来拉关系。这位老兄多次花几万美元租专用飞机把Fidelity交易员和高管飞到世界各地,招待他们几百美元一瓶的酒水,几百美元一张的网球比赛和音乐会票。有时一次活动就花掉十几万美元。全国券商协会后来对Jefferies罚款550万美元。

近几年,美国政界和商界的暧昧关系也制造了不少丑闻。曾显赫一时的共和党说客Jack Abramoff前两年锒铛入狱,罪名之一就是阴谋贿赂国会议员。他带议员和助手去苏格兰等地著名的高尔夫球场打球,邀请他们到自己开的高级餐馆免费就餐,送他们高级礼物等。为改变政界形象,国会两院作出了一系列新规定,例如议员不能接受说客礼品,不能与说客一起就餐(不用刀*的冷餐,如用手和牙签拿起来就能吃的餐前小吃,例外)等。

考虑到美国企业界和政界对礼品的严格规定,送礼的价值不要太高,以免产生误解,或给人造成心理压力。意思到了就行了,甚至不送可能更好,因为多数人都是有职业精神的,并不会因为你送不送礼而有态度上的区别。

送礼一定要讲平等。我不能说美国社会就绝对平等,但他们表面上做得不错,至少很多人说话做事时会比较注意平等待人。相比较而言,中国人等级观念比较强,这在送礼上也有表现。我一位在纽约的朋友说,一个中国代表团到她公司参观,送了她和她老板同样的礼物,但老板的比她的大很多,这对一个从德克萨斯来的女孩简直是不可思议。

加州圣地亚哥州立大学商学院教授Lois Olson常去中国讲课,她早已领悟了中国人送礼中的等级的奥秘。她到一家食品公司做市场培训时就买了四个地球仪,一个大的给那家公司非常厉害的女老板,三个小的给直接打交道的高管。女老板看她这么识相,笑逐颜开。但Olson教授说:“做到这一点对我这个美国人来说是很难的,因为我知道这种作法很粗鲁。”

她这么说是因为她自己就碰到有中国公司送她的男同事名酒而只送她一人一条丝巾。我想,这家公司可能是觉得丝巾对女人更合适,但在美国人看来,你就是把她单独拎了出来,没有平等对待。这样送礼的结果还不如不送。

如果美国人送了你东西,要记得表示感谢。一位朋友在国内为一家美国科技公司工作期间,曾带一位高管拜访联通,也入乡随俗地送了小礼品。过了一段时间,这位高管疑惑地问朋友:“为什么联通连个感谢的贺卡都没有寄来呢?”

 


 

原文:

At the end of an interview with the chairman of a public company in China, I got a box of paper handicrafts. After taking a close friend's parents to dinner, I received a silk scarf. After meeting the son of family friends for brunch, I got a box of Beijing Olympic memorabilia.

How did I feel about getting all these "nice-to-meet-you" gifts in New York City? Awkward.

Gifts are a way to show affection and respect in most cultures. In the U.S., the end-of-year holiday season is the high time for gifts that say "I love you," and in the corporate world it's common to use small gifts with logos as marketing.

In China, giving gifts is part of everyday life. On Chinese television, many products -- from dietary supplements and moon cake (a festival dessert) to hard liquor -- are marketed as the perfect gift. That's because we need to bring gifts when we visit our parents, grandparents, relatives, teachers, bosses and colleagues. (By the way, we've imported Valentine's Day, Mother's Day and Father's Day, or at least the part about buying gifts.) It's considered rude to show up at somebody's door empty-handed -- especially the first time you visit.

Why? There are many reasons, but I like the explanation offered by a Chinese friend living in New York: Most Chinese aren't comfortable with displaying emotions in public or in written notes, so we use gifts to express these feelings. A gift is a way to tell the recipient who we are and show how much we respect or love them.

While it's very important to bring the "appropriate" gift, what makes a gift appropriate is tricky. And what's appropriate for Chinese can be confusing -- or even offensive -- in another culture.

Just ask Lois Olson, a business-school professor at San Diego State University who's been visiting and teaching in China since the early 1990s.

Dr. Olson has learned that hierarchy is ingrained in Chinese society, and very much reflected in the choice of gifts. When she went to teach a marketing class at a food-processing company, she brought with her four globes. The one for the boss, whom Dr. Olson describes as a "little dragon lady," was about six inches in diameter, while the other three were about two inches in diameter. The smaller globes were for the dragon lady's underlings.

Dr. Olson knew the boss had a reputation for having complete command of her employees, and felt that "if anybody is going to appreciate hierarchy, she would." But she admits that as an American, matching gifts to positions was hard to do -- it felt rude.

Now Dr. Olson always brings a selection of different gifts when she visits China, and tailors the gift to the person. If an executive has a giant desk in the office with a jumble of trophies on display, Dr. Olson will know that they're very status-conscious. She gives such people a paperweight that's "big and heavy and says, 'I'm important,' but is totally useless," she says. If the person doesn't seem as status-obsessed, she'll give them books or beautiful photos.

In China, hierarchy doesn't just apply to gift-giving. When Dr. Olson went to China with other faculty members, she was usually the only woman on the team, and she found her male colleagues were always treated better. "They got better seats on the mini-buses and they got better views," she says. And when it came to gifts, they received bottles of Chinese whiskey while she got a silk scarf.

I can see how a Chinese host would think a silk scarf would be more useful to a woman than a bottle of whiskey. But I can also see the American point of view, and the problem with singling a person out just because she's different than the others.

Many Chinese traveling abroad like to say "Nice to meet you" with gifts that are distinctively Chinese. Like every nation, we're proud of our culture and believe that we have the responsibility to help others better understand us.

Before I came to the U.S., my best friend dragged me to a handicrafts market in Beijing to shop for gifts that are distinctively Chinese. "You're going to a new country and you're going to meet new people," she said. "It will be nice to give them something very Chinese as present."

I bought 20 ornaments that can be hung from a car's rearview mirror or on a wall. Each has a long red tassel and a red wooden plate a little smaller than a Post-It note. On one side of the plate is a calligraphic Chinese character that says either Happiness, Fortune or Longevity. On the other side is the colorful head of a character from Peking opera.

Most of the 20 ornaments are still in a plastic bag somewhere in my apartment. When I first arrived in New York, I felt weird about giving anybody a gift -- nobody did that except on special occasions. The few ornaments I gave out went mostly to my friends, and then only because I knew they would appreciate them.

I was lucky that my friend in Beijing recommended cheap and light handicrafts. A friend of mine was part of a group of Chinese bankers who attended a conference in Dubai a few years ago. They decided that miniature Chinese-style rock gardens would impress Wall Street bankers and Middle Eastern princes they might meet, but they hadn't considered that they'd have to carry heavy rocks all the way from southern China to Dubai -- or that the recipients would have to carry them home. I wonder how many of those rocks made it all the way to Wall Street.

关键词: 社会心理学
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