The US Postal Service announced recently that, for now, they are continuing Saturday mail delivery. At some point, physical mail service will change substantially, and I’ll have mixed feelings when it does. While I’m all for technology, I’ll miss the ease of getting handwritten thank you notes to people.
When I was a kid and got any kind of gift from a friend or relative, my mom would make me sit down and write a formal thank you note. I used to dread the week after my birthday since I hated having to write out a whole stack of them.
With several decades of perspective, I now appreciate the importance of what my mom taught me: putting gratefulness first, even if it meant that I didn’t always to get to do something else that I wanted. Today, I’m one of the few people I know that still writes handwritten thank you notes.
Here’s three reasons you should consider sending handwritten thank you notes to people who do nice things for you:
1) It’s noticed: In the late 1990’s, email was still cool. Few of us used email for anything other than personal reasons and a new email meant a personal note from a distant friend or relative. We were excited when the “You got mail!” audio blasted out of our computer speakers.
Today, email equals work for most of us. When we get a thank you note from someone via email, it’s one of hundreds of things in our inbox. We’ve learned to scan it, determine we don’t need to do anything with it, and move on.
Handwritten notes, in contrast, are harder to ignore. Few of us can resist opening a handwritten card addressed to us. It’s noticed immediately, and outside the context of the stream of work and everything else happening on electronic devices.
2) It communicates care: Thank you notes in any form are a wonderful gesture, but email is pretty easy to send. On the contrary, a handwritten note shows that you took the time to stop and think about the person, go get a card, take time to write it out, and ensure that it got into their hands physically. That shows a much higher level of commitment…and people notice.
3) It’s important: Even if nobody received my handwritten notes, I’d still get lots of benefit from creating them. Writing out a thank you forces me to set aside everything else I’m doing, think about how the other person has blessed me, articulate it in writing, and go find a stamp (or hand deliver). I can’t help but have more feelings of gratitude on the days when I send a few out.
Who could you express gratitude to this week? Tell me in the comments below and send a handwritten note. I think you’ll find that you will benefit as well.