“When I get a handwritten letter, I’m excited to open it. The art of the postage stamp, the feel of the paper, the graphic quirks of a friend’s handwriting: There is simply nothing as personal as a handwritten note. In a stack of bills and flyers, it’s a treasure in a sealed packet, full of promise and potential. It is a visceral reminder of someone far away.”
Daniel Post Senning from Emily Post
One of my presents for Christmas from my sister and her family was the new book The Leonard Bernstein Letters edited by Nigel Simeone. My sisters know what I like to read, and being a musician and a fan of Bernstein’s, this book is a treat. It’s very interesting to read the letters he wrote and I never knew how dramatic he was in his letter writing and you get an inside peek into what his thoughts and life was like. (Usually, “famous” people tended to write things down and keep them to make a mark on history, sort of like blogging today. Ha.)
Well, this isn’t about making a mark on history, but about making a mark on people that you care about. I am a technology geek. I love tech, love all the new gadgets coming out, but I am also “old school”. I have tablets, yes plural, but I don’t like reading a book on a tablet because I like the feel of the paper and turning the page. It’s the same with emails. I try not to send personal thank you’s and try to send them via a handwritten note. As Daniel Post Senning said about, “it’s a treasure in a sealed packet, full of promise and potential.”
Think about when you receive a letter or card in the mail. Not often do we get this because I believe we are losing this art of letter writing. Why? Maybe because of technology and email, maybe the phone, maybe because of social media. Here is something personal that I encountered that made a difference for me.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009. I took a five months’ leave from work to go through all the therapy that was needed to fight the disease, surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments. It wipes you out and as a breast cancer survivor, I highly recommend that ALL women get mammograms because that is how we detected my tumor and caught it early.
During my convalescence, many, and I mean many, of my colleagues, students, staff, friends and family wished me well, gave me care packages to remind me that they were still thinking about me. One of the most memorable things I received from those close to me are the many cards that were sent from individuals on a frequent basis. These were sometimes funny cards to cheer me up with something like, “Still thinking about you” or “Hey Vic, I’m thinking about you.” If you are reading this, you know who you are and this has left an impression on me that will last a lifetime. It goes a long way and the handwritten written note made it even more personal. (Not that those emails didn’t count, believe me they did!)
So, my challenge to all of you, remember that those little things like a handwritten note can brighten up someones day and place a”mark of history” for someone you care about. What does it take, a minute to write? It’s just as fast as an email and it will make such a difference for a person. Use handwritten notes after a walk through, giving encouragement to your staff, or a simple thank you for what a great job they did for anything. It really is something special and something we should do more often.