Friday, October 30, 2009

The Handwritten Thank You Note

Nothing sends a more personal message to a friend, family member or client than a handwritten thank you note. You're so connected, You check your messages from a gizmo in your pocket, a laptop on your kitchen table, and desktop in your office. You read e-mail from work while you are at home and personal e-mail on the job. You buzz your friends cell phones with telegraphic short text messages, converse in real-time cyberspace with instant messages, and add a sticky note to any piece of paper you send around.

We are trading quality for quantity. How do you put your feelings into words when someone does something extra special for you? Via e-mail? The next time you need to connect with someone and say thank you or on a subject that requires more than a snap reply, stop and ask yourself. Is there a better way to do this? Is your connection as warm and strong as it could be? Think about what it feels like to settle into a personal thank you that's been written just for you. Remember how connected it makes you feel, how valued and cared for.

Just as writing by hand on paper can raise the writer's standards for wording, typing into an e-mail frame can lower them. Many people abandon careful spelling, basic grammar, and common courtesy once they click on the button to compose a message. The tone of a person's e-mail message may also sound out of character: e-mail makes some writer's apologetic and verbose, whereas others come across as being blunt and off hand. It may be difficult for the writer to infuse the e-mail screen with the same warmth and personality that comes naturally in a handwritten message on paper.

Writing by hand acknowledges that something important, above the ordinary, exists between the two of you. Say thank you on paper with many of the same words you would use in person. Praise the readers' kindness specifically. Share your delight and acknowledge the givers' role in making something possible for you. Finally, don't stamp the letter through the postage machine!!

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