Sometimes gifts don’t feel like a gift at all; they feel more like a dig. Or maybe even more like a slap. You know—the straightening iron if you have curly hair. Or the subscription to Weight Watchers when you’ve been noticing the weight creeping on. Or the bottle-feeding set if you’re committed to breastfeeding.
When I wrote a book with the title “How to Be a Better Person,” I knew it was probably never going to be truly appropriate to give as a gift. How could you open up that package and not wonder, What are you trying to say?? Unless, maybe, the recipient is a recent graduate. That’s a time in a person’s life where they’re typically giving at least some thought to what kind of a person they want to be. But every other time in life… well, truly, it’s called SELF-help for a reason. (And not, help your friend). How to Be a Better Person is really a gift best purchased for oneself.
Still, I’ve always wondered what someone who’d received my book as a gift would think about it. And last week, I got to find out.
Harriet Marsden, a British journalist and author of the upcoming book Don’t Lose Your Head received my book with an unsigned gift note that read: “Just take a minute and think. From you know who.”
Luckily, she has the good humor to post a pic on Twitter of my book, with the caption “To the anonymous person who sent me this ‘How To Be A Better Person’ book with a pass agg note…. more fool you, I got a free book at your expense.”
Then, shortly thereafter, she tweeted. Tagging me, she said, “I’m actually really enjoying this!” And later, “It’s actually…really good?? Best insult ever.”
Needless to say, when I signed on to Twitter that morning I about spat out my green tea, I was laughing so hard. Should there ever be a second printing of the book, I will strongly advocate for putting “It’s actually….really good??” on the cover.
There were two silver linings to this story:
- My book has a new fan, and she shared it with her followers, so maybe that brought it even more new fans
- I reached out to Harriet and asked her to be a guest on my podcast and we had such a laugh. She also shared her tips on How to Handle Haters and I got a ton out of the conversation.
You can listen to it by clicking on this image.
And I’d love to know, what’s the most passive aggressive gift you’ve ever received?