Last week, I received a thank you note from a retiring colleague. That may seem like a run-of-the-mill thing but this colleague thanked me for sending him a hand written letter. Apparently, everyone else sent him an email when they heard the news of his retirement. I was the only who sent him a handwritten letter thanking him for the impact he made on his thousands of students and his service to the university. He was touched that I would take the time to send him a letter via snail mail.
Yes, it takes a little longer to write a handwritten letter. And it is a little harder than dashing off an email, texting a message, or posting something on social media. But the slowness of a handwritten letter is a blessing.
The Benefits of a Handwritten Letter
- Thoughtfulness – We have to formulate our thoughts before we put them down on paper. We don’t have the benefit of the delete button so we have to carefully craft our thoughts to ensure the letter says what we really mean.
- Nuanced – Related to the aspect of thoughtfulness, letters can be filled with nuances that aren’t found in electronic communication. Despite all of the stickers, emojis, and LOLs, it is far too easy to misinterpret the motivations of the writer using electronic communication.
- Private – Pragmatically speaking, it is a whole lot easier for handwritten letters to remain private. Sure, someone could still post a letter on a bulletin board for all to see, but it is less likely that a personal letter will go viral.
- Tangible Human Connection – Handwritten letters have become rare and unique. I can hold the letter in my hand and savor the connection being made. I receive so much electronic communication demanding my attention that a handwritten letter almost feels like a gift from the sender. I’ll always take time to read the handwritten letter.
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True Confession Time
I don’t write handwritten letters as often as I should. And I know I’m not the only one. It is getting harder and harder to find real stationary in the brick and mortar stores. The last time I went to my local Hallmark store, there was only one box and it had obviously been opened with half of the sheets and envelopes missing. And the other stores where you would expect to find stationary only sell note cards or letterhead ready paper.
Perhaps I feel like the people I would write letters to–primarily my sisters–already know all about what is going on with me because we communicate so frequently through texting and Facebook.
I don’t know…
All I know is that we all send emails, text messages, and use social media every day. But a handwritten letter lets people know how important they are to us.
What keeps you from sending handwritten letters? Share your thoughts in the comments.
To your fabulous Technicolor life!