SUBSCRIBE: Newsletter

Human Resources



sad person opening Christmas gift - 123RF

White lies colleagues tell around the office Christmas tree

Learn at your own convenience with Uniqskills Asia. Top quality online training courses
accessible anywhere, anytime. Learn more about the available courses »


If a colleague says “you shouldn’t have” when opening your gift, you may want to double check if you still have the receipt –  their inner thoughts might be whispering “No really, you shouldn’t have!”

According to a poll of 2,000 adults by Braun via, 86% of them will spare the feelings of others by telling little white lies around the Christmas tree.

Here are the 10 little white lies you might hear after someone opens your gift and what they actually mean:

  • 1. When they say “It’s lovely”, it really means “It’s lovely – but not for me”
  • 2. If you hear “This is really useful”, it really means “I will never use this”
  • 3. When people say “Thanks so much – I nearly bought this for myself”, it really means “I would never buy this for myself”
  • 4. When you hear “What a lovely surprise”, it really means “I’m not sure what to say”
  • 5. When they say “You shouldn’t have”, it really means “No really, you shouldn’t have!”
  • 6. When people say “This is so lovely and it’s great because it goes with everything”, it really means “It goes with nothing I own”
  • 7. If people say “What an interesting gift”, it really means “What a weird gift”
  • 8. When they say “I love it – where did you get it”, it really means “Where did you get it so I can return it?”
  • 9. If you hear “It was so nice of you to think of me”, it really means “Maybe next time think about me a little harder and get something I like”
  • 10. When people say “Wow – I can’t believe how well you know my taste”, it really means “I can’t believe how little you know my taste”

The survey also found that six in 10 have felt guilty about how much someone has spent on a them, and as a result, over half have made a point to wear clothes or jewellery in front of their gift giver despite disliking the purchase. On the other hand, 42% confess to returning or exchanging a gift that’s not for them.

The survey further revealed how you can avoid hearing the white lies told above – ask for a Christmas wish list, or stick with useful gifts.

About two in five respondents (42%) would rather be asked for their Christmas wish list than get a surprise, and 78% of recipients preferred useful gifts over novelty items which might only be used once.

ALSO READ: 10 things you shouldn’t give colleagues this Christmas

HR Masterclass Series: We're going virtual! New courses, new formats!
Review the 2020 masterclasses here »

Read More News