Why Handwritten Notes Are More Important Than Ever in a Distracted World
Technology is the great equalizer: Online, everyone is somebody. But at the same time, everyone is less significant. Data dumping and mass communication spread has become an expected norm, and we’re riddled with distraction after distraction as we struggle to keep up. The endless barrage of emails, texts and social media alerts can make our lives seem as if we’re falling further and further behind. Plus, it’s easy to use technology as an excuse (I’m so busy!) to avoid the real time and effort required to build relationships.
It’s become very easy to send an email to thousands of recipients with a blanket “thank you” to all of them. But do we ever stop and think about our impact? Do people want an additional impersonal email sent with very little thought added to their inbox? When did quantity outrun quality?
In my book, Handwritten Notes: Learn How a Small, Powerful Act Can Enrich Your Life, I talk about how this simple ritual of the past can powerfully impact your own life and the lives of others. A handwritten thank you is more time-consuming and perhaps a little old-fashioned; however, the benefits of a deep impression on the recipient make it worth the effort. Consider this: A “thank you” text comes across your phone. You think, “Oh, that’s nice,” and it’s quickly forgotten.
By comparison, what’s it like to go to your mailbox and find a note or a letter from someone? You’re immediately filled with anticipation and excitement. Someone took the time and focus to sit down and write you a card. And if the sender adds some personal details about your life and explains why you matter in this world, then, wow, you might become a fan of this person for life.
Think about the psychology I’ve just described. What could this do for you in business? How about your relationships with friends and family? What could this do for your own personal focus?
Incorporating handwritten notes into your life and sharing your recognition of others strengthens your connection. Feeling appreciated is a basic human need, and helping someone fill that need brings joy to both of you. Wouldn’t you want to spend more time with someone who can arouse those feelings?
The rarity of handwritten notes today makes them even more powerful. A few simple personal words written down on paper will be far more welcome than any electronic communication. These tactile messages stay with you — most often literally — as people keep them as a reminder of the happiness you brought into their life. And all it took was a little bit of undistracted time with a pen and paper.
Don’t underestimate the power of writing kind words to others, and don’t let self-doubt limit your ability to convey the message. Focus on the warmth and sincerity of your communication, not your ability to express it. Chances are that person’s starving need for appreciation will far outweigh any awkwardness of your letter, and your letter will carry a significant and much-needed positive impact on that person.
Of course you don’t have time for handwritten notes. That’s the problem. Put down your devices and carve out a few minutes to think, reflect and put pen to paper. You’ll be surprised how transformative the experience can be.