Flowers and plants have long been a traditional gift for any occasion. While often associated with romance, flowers can symbolize everything from sympathy to gratitude to friendship. Their versatility and beauty is what makes them an enduring gesture.
When giving someone flowers in a business setting, it’s important to consider the etiquette. Use this guide to sending flowers and plants to your business partners as a starting point.
The first consideration when sending flowers to a business partner is the occasion; what event has taken place that requires acknowledgment. It’s appropriate to send flowers to business partners to celebrate a wedding, the birth of a child, a promotion, etc. Conversely, sending flowers next day after your business partner has suffered the loss of a friend or loved one is a beautiful gesture.
The one time when it’s not appropriate to send flowers is “just because.” This gesture, while well-meaning, could be misconstrued in a workplace setting. The exception to this rule would be if you were sharing a thoughtful gesture with your entire team or department, and everyone received a plant or bouquet.
Your relationship with the individual will also factor into what sort of arrangement you choose. If this is a business partner you’ve just met and formed an agreement with, you likely don’t know each other very well yet. In this case, keeping the gift simple and generic is ideal.
On the other hand, if this is the business partner you’ve worked with for years and consider a close friend, you can get more personal. In this situation, you’ll likely have more insights into what the recipient prefers as well. So, rather than focusing on symbolism, you can choose something that brings them personal joy or comfort.
Speaking of symbolism, this is another integral consideration when choosing flowers— especially in a workplace setting. Avoid blooms and shades that have romantic overtones, opting for something brighter and more cheerful instead. Red roses may raise some questions when presented to a business partner or colleague. Multicolored tulips or a fun tropical arrangement are more friendly and approachable.
While it may seem silly or outdated to consider the symbolism behind blooms, it’s better to avoid any awkward misrepresentations. Remember that red and pink symbolize love and affection, whereas shades of yellow and orange represent friendship and gratitude.
You should never present a floral arrangement or plant in a work setting without a note. The note will clarify the context around the gift and ensure everyone is on the same page.
Take the time to write a couple of lines rather than signing a generic card. There’s plenty of inspiration online for any event, so there’s no excuse for a blank card.
If you’re conducting international trade or working with a business partner with an ethnic background that’s different from your own, take some time to research their culture. While a beautiful white bouquet makes a lovely gesture for a business partner who’s getting married in some parts of the world, white flowers represent death in others.
While it shouldn’t be a concern in the 21st century, it’s also worth considering gender when choosing a gift. Many men would be happy to receive flowers, while others have a different perception. If you’re in doubt, stick with a potted plant rather than a floral bouquet.
Finally, consider the fact that many offices are scent-free to accommodate those with sensitivities. If you’re presenting flowers to a business partner in a work setting, or if you’re unsure of their reaction to scents, work with your florist to choose a scent-free bouquet.
By following this guide, you can convey the message you want to your business partner with the gift of flowers or plants.