Why Handwritten Notes Still Matter

I’m lucky to have a mom who is a writer. No, she’s not the kind of writer you’re probably thinking of. She doesn’t write books.

She writes letters to share her thoughts and to help keep people connected, and she has for many of her 85 years.

My mom is the first of two important influences that prompted me to adopt the habit of writing handwritten notes nearly 20 years ago.

The second influence was a 1991 article from Reader’s Digest. Wonderfully written by Fred Bauer, it was titled The Power of a Note. In it, he shared some personal stories of notes that had impacted him greatly and he offered some simple guidelines for writing notes.

These two influences, my mom and Fred, helped to point me down a path of writing hundreds and hundreds of notes. I owe them both a huge debt of thanks because the habit has been incredibly rewarding.

Although I don’t write notes with an expectation of a reply, many times I’ll hear back from the folks I write to. They’ll often offer a quick thank you or some other sort of follow-up, but very rarely do I hear what the following story reveals.

Earlier this fall, I attended an out-of-state workshop to learn about designing and delivering dynamic presentations. Given what you now know about me (and my mom), it’s probably no surprise that after the conference I sent acknowledgement notes to many of the folks I had met there.

Here’s the clincher, the other day I emailed a follow-up question to one of the conference organizers. She quickly replied with an answer, but she also had added these thoughts to her email:

“By the way, thank you so much for the thoughtful thank you note you sent. I’ve thought of it many times since. After nearly 6 years of doing this, I think it might be the first hand-written thank you note I’ve received. Such an encouragement. THANK YOU!”

Having written notes now for so many years, I’ll be honest and tell you that her revelation of receiving no notes in 6 years of running the conference didn’t completely surprise me, but her added comments were a valuable reminder of the impact a brief, handwritten note can have.

With all the talk these days around the coolness of connecting digitally with others via social media, smartphones, iPhone apps, tablets, and more, it was refreshing to be reminded that one of the oldest analog devices for connecting, a handwritten note, still matters and can make a difference in someone’s life.

“Connectedness is an organizing principle of the universe.” David Bohm (Quantum physicist)

Question: Who’s life might you impact today by sharing an acknowledgement, a compliment or a kind word in a handwritten note?

2 Responses to “ Why Handwritten Notes Still Matter ”

  1. Sam Shelhorn says:

    Don:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts regarding hand written notes. It is indeed a lost art – I understand elementary schools are no longer teaching cursive.

    When a potential vendor or employee sends me a hand written note, it definitely influences my opinion of that person.

  2. Don says:

    Sam,

    You’re most welcome for the post. I’m not surprised by the influence notes have on you. I believe your feelings are widely shared.

    Thanks much………..Regards, Don