'Tis the Season...For Note Writing?

Uncategorized Dec 02, 2020

In a digital society, writing notes may seem as old-fashioned as churning your own butter. However, it's the rarity and personal attention that make them stand out more than ever. Not to mention, December 7th is Letter Writing Day!

If you want to strengthen your relationship with someone, drop them a line.

The Basics Of Writing Notes That Get Your Message Across

1. Know your purpose. Strike the right tone by clarifying what you want to accomplish. Maybe you want to express your esteem for a colleague who is retiring, or perhaps you're following up on a sales call, so being persuasive is a high priority. In 2020, it may just be that you are acknowledging a small triumph in a tough year.  Regardless of the purpose, start with a little Habit 2: Begin With the End in Mind.

2. Act promptly. Sometimes speed reduces the pressure to be profound. A brief thank you suffices when you get it out the next day. If you dawdle, you wind up struggling for words. And Heaven knows, no one wants to struggle with doing something nice for someone!

3. Take a good look at your handwriting. The more you type, the more your penmanship may deteriorate. It's usually okay to use your keyboard if your handwriting has become illegible or messy, but, I implore you, give it the ol' college try before you decide to type.  Even hand printed is a step up from typing!

4. Strive to be concise. If you lack the time to compose long letters, relax. Many people prefer a paragraph or two rather than ten pages that they'll have to find time to read. Not usually a problem in this day and age of Short Message Service, but don't use "text speak" in your letters either. Later should be later and not l8r in a written message!

5. Practice on the people close to you. If you've grown rusty at anything but texting, brush up by communicating with your loved ones. Your grandmother will love anything you have to say and kids will be thrilled to find something addressed to them in the mail. My daughter will be 26 soon, and she still loves handwritten letters and cards in the mail!

Special Occasions and Personal Touches That Will Make Your Notes Distinctive

1. Make people feel like an insider. Share interesting and useful information. We forge relationships by looking for commonalities with people, so capitalize on whatever that commonality is and build upon it. Live in the same town? Share a new restaurant you tried.  Both like dogs? Tell a funny story about yours.

2. Rekindle old connections. Get back in touch with people you've lost track of. They may miss you too. Becoming Facebook friends with your best friend from childhood is not the same as sending them a card recounting a favorite activity you used to do together.  My best friend from childhood sent me an old Yahtzee score sheet she found in her game with my name on it.  It brought back all the hours we spent playing Yahtzee as kids!

3. Find new friends. Reach out to people you want to get to know better. Ask the person seated next to you at a dinner party for their card so you can send a note and continue the conversation. OK, so not a thing this year, but here's hoping it's a thing next year!

4. Offer praise. Everyone appreciates positive reinforcement, so send a note of praise to someone. Send a card to the co-worker who stayed late to help you with a big project or the cousin who shared an old picture of your grandparents online.

5. Follow up. Sometimes a note is just a first step. Pick up the phone and confirm your lunch date. You've caught their attention with something handwritten, now build on that to further the relationship.

6. Help kids get started. Children who grow up writing notes will have an edge in their business and social life. Turn thank you notes into a fun family activity or help your child send that letter to Santa this year.

7. Shop for stationery. Browse online or visit a local shop for paper that appeals to you. Pick a fun style that expresses your personality or keep it simple and elegant. If you're the DIY type, look for templates online. You can also recycle greeting cards by tearing off the picture and writing on the back like a postcard. I'm always up for a reduce, reuse, or recycle project!

8. Take a multimedia approach. Traditional notes blend well with newer technology. Throw in pictures and videos to get your point across.

9. Attach gifts. A note is often all you need, but sometimes you feel more generous. When you add a gift inscription on the title page of a book, your friend will think of you every time they read it.

10. Be creative. You can place a note anywhere, so think of creative places to leave messages. Write something endearing in lipstick on a mirror. Post a reminder in your child's lunch box or use sidewalk chalk on your driveway to welcome them home from camp. When I send my daughter a letter, I always include a timely limerick or two.  She finds them funny and I get to exercise my rhyming mojo periodically!

A well-phrased message received at the right time can help you land a job or make a loved one smile. Notes are a quick and inexpensive way to impress people with your courtesy and thoughtfulness and are a pretty sure bet to build relationships.

My challenge for you is this: drop a handwritten note or two in the mail on Monday.  In a year where video call fatigue is real, any recipient is sure to be grateful to not have to stare at a glowing rectangle for a few minutes while they bask in feeling special.

Leaving you with this from the lighter side: Life is not a fairy tale.  If you lose your shoe at midnight, you are most likely drunk.

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