When is the last time you sent someone an honest to goodness handwritten, anything, in the mail? Yeah, I can’t really remember either. But today, I watched a great interview about why you might just want to consider this practice.
These days, technology is king. I send a lot of emails, post comments on various social media platforms or provide virtual claps for other writers on Medium. Today though, I heard an interview with Todd Herman. He’s a very successful leadership coach, who sends handwritten thank you’s to the authors of the books he reads.
The intention behind the handwritten note
My attention was immediately captured. Why does he do this? Because he likes the “person” to “person” feeling it gives. He lets them know how their book was useful to him, even quotes a page and includes a passage he especially liked. He does it solely as a means of letting the person on the other side of that book know they are appreciated.
The side benefit is the start of some new relationships. Connections of two way opportunities to assist each other. Simply by reaching out in a very old fashioned, almost extinct, manner.
Isn’t that something?
He says that he’s experienced “reach back” from those authors. Where they’ve written back or in some cases called, to say thank you for the note. Why? Well in part it’s because it’s personal and because it speaks to someone taking the time and effort to do it. Rather like the time and effort that went into the writing of the book.
Email interactions are quick and easy. Is it time to retrieve slow and thoughtful?
I’m a writer; here with my blog of course and I also contribute under several umbrellas on Medium. I love writing, but it is really something when someone takes the time to comment. To say what you wrote, mattered. Touched them in some way.
I think about an email I wrote to a blogger/speaker and soon to be published author. He gets 1000’s of views on his work every day. One day I was so impressed that I emailed him to say so. Maybe he gets a lot of those kinds of emails, but what he sent back was formulaic. I’m not even sure if it was him or maybe a member of his team that responded.
In some ways I almost would have preferred nothing. Well okay, maybe it was nice to get a response. But something more than “Glad you liked it. Maybe you’d like these other articles too.” It just left me kind of, cold. Just another reader.
Now imagine if this had all occurred on paper.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t get too much in the mail. If someone actually took the time to write me, you can bet I’d take notice. Respond to it, personally.
Handwritten notes are almost becoming a thing of the past. Maybe they shouldn’t be.
The impact of a handwritten note
From a personal perspective, I can say I’ve kept some handwritten notes. Ones from friends that I re-read, because they are a marker in time. They provide context and a sense of what I was going through when they wrote them. They’re encouraging and I feel their love and caring. It took time and effort not just in the sending, but of composing their thoughts.
Others are brief notes from my mom, in her later years and her handwriting was shaky. She passed away almost two decades ago; those notes are like a soft touch of her presence. It’s not so much the message, since they were so often just a “thinking of you” , but seeing and being reminded of her unique style of writing. Towards the end of her life, writing didn’t come easily and the effort, the card and the message come together in one perfect gift. One that goes beyond any material item.
Her handwritten note reminds me of a connection lost to death, but alive in memory.
Is there a place for handwritten notes in business?
In business, imagine the impact of a handwritten note. The interviewee said that some of the authors mentioned how much they appreciated it, especially because they were having a tough day.
So many of our communications these days are behind a screen, one keyboard to another. It’s harder to connect on a personal level, even within the professional realm, when the common connector is the font. That standardization might be convenient, but we lose some of the personality of the person doing the writing. Forget that they too, experience tough days, just like we do.
I have been speaking to a few local groups, and some have provided me with a hand written thank you note. In one case, a hand made card! They gave me a little of their time in exchange for mine.
A handwritten note is such a personal gesture. It increases my memory of working with them and I’ll be sure to remember how I might be able to help them down the road. That’s what a little extra effort does, increases your memorability. It’s what I strive to provide in my speaking and now have a way to do it in my reading.
An authentic connection
These days, as we seek to make connections in a more authentic manner, maybe this is an old school practice ready to be called back into action.
As a writer myself, I am looking forward to reaching out to some of those authors. To let them know how their books made a difference. How the knowledge they provide is helping me to better serve the audiences and people I work with.
Tonight, I will be purchasing some thank you notes to start on this task. While the list is long, I’m looking forward to the opportunity to reach out and say a heart felt thank you. Where will I start? There are friends that are certainly overdue, then I think I will dip into the author list. Those who’ve had the most profound effect on my life.
Does that surprise you? That authors could have that effect? It’s why I’m so passionate about reading , because really great work helps us understand ourselves and world, better. For me the top of the list goes to Susan Cain and her book Quiet. Then Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way and finally, well it’s a toss up between Carol Dweck’s book Mindset or Angela Duckworth’s book Grit. I feel blessed to have them in my personal library, as each feels like a friend to me.
For your reading and perhaps new handwritten thank you’s
And for your reading interest, here are some of the recent authors and their books I have enjoyed.
A Whole New Mind, by Daniel Pink
A hopeful and thoughtful book about how those who tilt to the right side of the brain, will succeed in the changing economy and in life satisfaction. A very enjoyable read.
The Body Keeps The Score by Bessel van der Kolk M.D
Ever wondered how emotional trauma plays out in our lives? What science has learned about how it shows up in different diseases and physical challenges? He offers insights and information about trauma, the extent of it in our society and about new treatment methods.
Crushing It by Gary Vaynerchuk
For the entrepreneurs or those curious about how people become “influencers” this is full of information about how to use the various social media platforms. It’s interesting and easy to read. I will read it again, likely a few times, to take in all the information.
Tell me, what have you read lately? You know I’m always happy to find new treasures. And, what about those handwritten notes? Are you overdue to send a few? To co-workers, family members, friends or even authors?
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