Rapidly advancing technology over the past few decades has seen our methods of written communication progressing from the humble pen and paper to emails, texts, IM, social media and an endless stream of new platforms through which we can be ‘connected’.
It’s certainly made it easier to react quickly to news, and it’s certainly exciting to see who liked your post, but compare that to the sense of delight you feel when you receive a letter with a hand-written card.
It’s not just the fact that the sender physically hand-delivered the note, or that they posted it and paid for a stamp, it’s the fact that they had to spend time to think about what they wanted to say and to craft the words to express how they feel. For most people, this is no small feat. We’ve all grown so used to typing on keyboards in acronyms and shorthand that we rarely express ourselves in full sentences. Apart from shopping lists and scribbled doodles while we’re on the phone, we rarely use handwriting at all. If you’re anything like me, my actual handwriting has deteriorated to the point of illegibility!
If someone has gifted you a hand-written card or note, they’ve spent time and effort to show their appreciation and care for you. It’s something you can cherish forever, unlike messaging or posts that in comparison, are fleeting. A personal note is a precious treasure that can be read over and over again—it’s a reaffirmation from someone who sees the best of you.
So how can we revive this valuable custom and master the art of crafting a hand-written note?
1. Gather the tools
Nothing says “I care” like high-quality stationery with a textured finish and card stock weight. Choosing a meaningful card gives your note an extra dimension. Sure, you can scribble some incredible words on a page ripped out of your notebook, but the lack of presentation will detract from the words. I like to keep a stock of blank cards with images or messages that will suit a variety of people so that I have one ready to go anytime I need one. For inspiration, check out the range of meaningful cards at www.brightbutterfly.com.au.
The other things to consider is a decent writing pen. If you have a steady hand and a flair for calligraphy, you might like to use a fountain pen or a particular specialist lettering pens. For the rest of us, find a pen that writes smoothly without smearing or leaving ink blobs.
2. Block out some time
We have all become the masters of multi-tasking—cooking dinner while we stream a show on Netflix and check email all at the same time. It’s impossible to write a good note while you’re doing something else. This is one of those tasks that requires focus. Set aside 10-15 minutes to think clearly about what you want to say and how to say it.
3. What to write
Staring at a blank page, pen in hand, happens to everyone sometime. You are not alone in the quest to find the words that truly say what you want to express. I can’t tell you what to say because then your note would have my words, not yours and the receiver would probably be thinking, “That doesn’t sound like them!”
What we’re going for here is sincerity. The magic happens when they feel you are speaking genuinely in your own words. If it’s a thank you note, hone in on why their actions made a difference to you and how it made you feel. If you are writing a card to thank an usher at your wedding, you could say something like:
“Tom, thanks so much for being an usher at our wedding. We really appreciate your part in making our wedding truly special.”
This is perfectly fine, but what would make it truly exceptional is if you can remember something specific action that you noticed.
“Organising the family for a group photo would have been impossible without your help in gathering everyone together. The way you were patient and kind to grandpa made him feel truly valued and included.”
If I was Tom, my ‘feel good ‘endorphins would be through the roof. It would uplift my spirits and my self-esteem would get a huge boost.
There are no perfect words, simply writing from the heart is what it’s all about. Taking the time to handwrite a note is a habit worth cultivating. It’s something that’s practiced by Kings and Queens, Presidents and CEO’s and just as impactful when created by you and me.