Getting the Balance Right May Take a Little Strategy
Sympathetic gifts require empathy. Think of “empathy” and “sympathy” like siblings that look similar, but aren’t quite twins. Remember those old “family bands” where the young ones would harmonize? Sympathy is best when harmonized through the lens of her sister’s empathy.
Empathy involves putting yourself in the shoes of somebody going through something. Sympathy involves being there for emotional support and helping them through whatever situation has impacted them.
Depending on the situation, some people want to be alone. The right gift given at the right time in the right spirit can be quite helpful. Following are some tactics to help you get the job done right.
Timing is Everything: Don’t Propose at a Funeral
In May of 2022, some guy proposed to his girlfriend at her father’s funeral. Who knows what went through this guy’s head; maybe he thought, “Well, as a husband, I can fulfill that ‘protection’ void in her life”. Maybe he didn’t think at all. Maybe he wanted her to reject him, and he knew if he didn’t do it this way, she’d never leave.
Who knows what happened in his head? Here’s the point: timing is everything. The most sympathetic gift in the world will be hated if you give it at the wrong time. This is a hard thing to get right. If you’ve ever told a joke at the wrong time, you know this.
If you’ve got a joke out with proper timing, you also know how good it is to find that balance. When you’re giving a sympathy gift, be sure you don’t incidentally exacerbate the problem through poor timing, like the recently single man in the link at the top of this section.
Informing Your Gift Choice With Multiple Data Points
Next, don’t trust only your own imagination as you try to find the perfect gifts for sympathy. The link has some suggestions you might consider. You want to bring timing to the table, buy a gift that matches what the person would really want, and use external stimuli to help fuel your imagination.
Give Them a Gift That Will Be Useful
Now, practical gifts tend to be a bit boring and utilitarian; however, for some people, that’s the best kind of gift you can give them. Gifts that are useful have their place, but the sort of use involved is what’s considerable. For example, if you’ve got a friend who is an avid cyclist, get in a wreck, and it makes their bike irreparable, a new bicycle is a fine gift.
Even the most expensive bicycle is useless to someone who is paralyzed from the waist down. However, if you can find a hand-cranked bike, that might work. The point is, that utility, like beauty, is often in the eye of the beholder. Accordingly, the utility must be matched to the individual. Something they can “do” will help them get their mind off their pain.
Giving the Most Useful, Proper Gift at the Proper Time
Useful gifts, gifts acquired after examining multiple data points, and the timing of presentation are all key factors in showing sympathy to a friend or family member going through something. Take your time, choose carefully, and give to them in a way that matches how you would like to be treated in a similar situation.