Handwritten letters and cards are a rare commodity these days. Unfortunately, they have been for a long time. As rare as they are now, they are of the utmost importance. With the way things are going, and people totally reliant on text messages and emails to express gratitude, notes of thanks are defunct. The Wall Street Journal and other publications of note have often lamented the “lost art of the written note,” but no one seems to want to pay heed. There are some folks, luckily, who can’t stress enough about the importance of the handwritten thank-you.
The Wired World
Excuses are fast and furious. People claim that there is no time to “sit and write.” In an electronically charged world, emails, texts, and tweets are more accessible, they say. This, after all, is the natural evolution of communication that is taking place right before our eyes. Besides, we have gotten so used to typing that the fine motor skill of “writing” is actually quite hard for many us! Additionally, there is also the argument that no one wants to buy stamps, stationery, and go through a dictionary to check spelling.
Many people think it’s premature to write off the value of handwritten thank-you notes. To begin with, they make more of an impact, especially in this day and age. They are unique in many positive ways.
In a materialistic way, notes written by hand, mean more because they cost more. For instance, emails, texts, messages on Facebook, and tweets cost nothing. They are convenient to write, and essentially free to send out. You can literally create hundreds of these a day. Americans send a few hundred or more per day, research shows. These are rarely noteworthy. On the other hand, handwritten thank-you notes are unusual and distinctive. They may take minutes to write, or hours. Each word is carefully chosen, not by a robotic device, but by a human being.
That Tender Touch
Writing handwritten notes takes a lot of trouble. You have to choose the right stationery, pay for stamps in some cases, and visit the post office. There’s a lot that’s invested in one of these. This implies value. Besides this material cost, handwritten letters are usually expressions of civility, gratitude and appreciation. Well-known car salesman Joe Girard, probably the best in his time, sent personal handwritten messages to all his clients once a month. Simple messages were inside these.
Girard firmly believed that these personalized notes were the reasons that his clients remained loyal to him. A note would say, “Thanks for your business,” or “Thanks for believing in me.” Such reminders are used to convey that you value your relationship with the people the notes are sent to.
Investment in a Relationship
Saying “thank you” itself is important in today’s highly consumerist world. The charm of a beautifully-crafted handwritten thank-you is that it portrays a deep and genuine investment in appreciation for the receiver. It may be a precursor to many other contexts and circumstances. Many a time, it can lead to a conversation, that could in turn, be meaningful in several ways. A more important role that a handwritten note plays is that it reminds someone that they are remembered and loved.
In a world where most of our communication is merely utilitarian, simple acts of kindness, remembrance, gratitude, and affection show people they’re important and cared for.
Gratitude Fosters a Positive Attitude
Studies have shown that expressions of gratitude foster a positive attitude. This works both ways – the positivity is felt by the receiver and the giver. As an added bonus, when acts of gratitude are physically played out, such as writing thank-you notes, or giving gifts and flowers, the positivity experienced by both parties is greater. Research shows that people benefit from better sleep, less anxiety, and overall good mental and physical health after undertaking such acts.
Personal and Permanent
Handwritten thank-you notes have a permanent quality about them. Much like high school yearbooks that we may never see, but nonetheless keep, these hold worth. Some of us may not like to admit that we have old shoe boxes stacked with letters and cards from former friends, classmates, etc. We may have the odd card or letter from our parents if we were away at college.
Whether we like it or not, we have to admit that we have all gone back in time with old letters, and smiled about it. They move us because they bring back memories that we cherish. Emails and texts may hold permanence of a kind, but they aren’t tangible in the same way as handwritten notes. They don’t endure. A thank-you note may be pasted on boards, or held by a magnet on a fridge. We don’t print out emails and display those. The physicality of the note is something we hold dear, whatever age we are. This is what memories are made of.
Nostalgia can be Wonderful
However much the modern era has brought us, its taken things away as well. There’s still some space for the nostalgia that a personal communication tool brings with it. Handwritten thank-you notes let people into our lives, the way common texts cannot. Notes written in your own hand give others a striking message. This is a message that says you care enough to do something as archaic as interrupting your busy life to write a note. All it takes is a brief ten minutes, and yet, many of us don’t do it. When a note is written by hand, it creates a long, and perhaps, lasting connection with the receiver. Reaching out to someone in this way is such a rarity, which makes it that much more noteworthy and appreciable. While times are changing, certain traditions should not. Maintaining a human touch is increasingly important in the now-digital world more than ever before. While digital options may mean moving with the times, more conventional ways of communication mean the natural ways to keep our sanity, forge lasting relationships, and keep the ones we have.