Why Handwritten Notes
Personal handwritten notes are becoming rarer every day. In a world of text messages, emails, and tweets one could argue that theses are more accessible than handwritten notes. Is this the natural evolution of communication?
The 2011 U.S. Postal Service annual report indicates that the average American home only receives a personal letter once every 10 weeks. A 2013 Wall Street Journal article by Philip Hensher noted that in a British survey that the average time since an adult wrote anything at all by hand was 41 days. Only 1/3 of respondents surveyed indicated they have not written anything by hand (other than a scribbled shopping note) for at least six months.
Penmanship and cursive writing are no longer part of a school curriculum. Besides who has time for stamps, paper, envelopes and manual spell-check. I think that the death notice of the handwritten note is premature. Handwritten notes remain impactful, appreciated and unique and often touch the heart at unexpected moments.
For one, personal handwritten notes mean more to the recipient because they cost more. Tweets, emails, text and Facebook messages essentially cost nothing – except maybe the ramifications of a careless tweet. Notes are easy to write, often full of abbreviations and easy to send. We all create tens if not hundreds everyday. All the electronic communications that permeate our lives are rarely notable. When was the last time you printed an email, wrapped it in a ribbon and tucked it away in a special place to read again?
Handwritten notes are an exception. They take time to construct, with no “undo” or “autocorrect” to speed us to the end of the task. Drafting a personal communication requires stationery, stamps and a walk to a mailbox. A handwritten note suggests investment, and the very fact that you invest time, money and effort imparts value. If we receive less than one personal letter or note every 7 weeks, then each of those simple expressions means more than all the “cheaper” communications we receive every day.
Where is the Value?
The value in handwritten notes is further enhance by that fact that most personal messages are expressions of gratitude, civility or appreciation that far exceed a simple thank you. Of course saying thank you is important. The elegance of a handwritten note presents a greater investment and deeper appreciation than is conveyed in a simple thank you. A note reminds someone they are not forgotten, extends a conversation, or address new issues. Some of the most successful salesmen regularly keep in touch with valued and new customers with personal notes. In a world where communication is often short, cryptic, and pragmatic, sending a thoughtful, crafted note conveys investment, appreciation, and gratitude to important people in your life or business.
Handwritten notes are tangible and have a longevity and permanence lacking in emails, texts, and tweets. I willing to wager that most of you reading this have one or more high school yearbooks stored safely somewhere. How many of you have a shoebox with love letters or letters from children who were away or in grade school? Pull them out and read some one evening. You’ll find memories long forgotten, friends that you lost touch with and smiles all around. Emails have some permanence. We have technology to search large volumes of emails quickly, but they aren’t tangible and warm. We don’t print them and place them on refrigerators, desks or mantles the way we do with letters, notes and cards. The physical note is memorable.
Not Too Late
There is still time in our busy, fast-paced world for handwritten notes in both our personal and professional communications. Yes, they cost you something, but they mean something. They have permanence that the recipient treasures much more than any text message or email. So, resolve that at least periodically this year, you will pause, take pen in hand and on a card or stationary send your thoughts and appreciation to the people important to you personally or professionally.