Letters that Lead with the Heart
Letters and notes that thank, congratulate, or compliment are powerful. After all, who doesn’t love them? We all want to hear that the actions we take – whether the scale be small or grand – are noticed and appreciated. And while it may be tempting to send off a quick text or email, it is well worth the effort and postage to send a handwritten letter or note. This correspondence sets the sender apart from the masses who rely on e-greetings to stand in for old-school ink and paper. Taking the time to write in cursive or to neatly print a sentiment is a thoughtful way to demonstrate value in a relationship. And, the payoffs can be immediate and life changing.
One of the earliest jobs I had out of college was for a DOD contractor. After the third and final round of interviews, I won the writing position with the company. Why? The president later told me that I was the only interviewee who had written a thank you note. What had seemed like an obvious part of the interview process to me was overlooked by dozens of other candidates. That got me thinking – was it really old-fashioned to say “thank you” anymore? I don’t think so. Gratitude never goes out of style. Indeed, some of the greatest minds in history point out the necessity of gratitude in the advancement of our professional and personal lives. In one of his best selling books, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” the late motivational leader, Dale Carnegie, stated, “Give honest and sincere appreciation.” It may be a whole page or just a few lines, but make the words your own.
Writing a letter or a note to congratulate a business colleague, friend or acquaintance can move one forward, too. The rationale of this practice is simple. Sharing sincere praise is the way to heighten a situation from good to great. And when the cup runs over the brim, who will benefit? You guessed it: the person paying the compliment in the first place. Don’t wait for the PhD to be awarded to praise a recipient. Take action on any advancement that the individual makes. For example, if a person is featured in a business section of a newspaper or magazine, take the time to clip the article to send inside of a card or letter. People are so busy that they can often miss this type of press.
The final note or letter to send off is the compliment. While reserved mostly as a verbal nicety in American culture, a sincerely written compliment can have lasting impact on the recipient. Avoid vague compliments that are dependent upon physical features. Be specific with compliments that feature an action, an event or an example of work that the person has completed. Place value on the effort that the person exhibited to complete a given task. Again, it adds value to a relationship to document a wonderful situation that a person has created.
By being proactive and putting words to thank, congratulate, or compliment into a letter or a note, a win-win situation occurs. All it takes is a notecard or stationary, a pen in black or blue ink, and a FOREVER stamp to make a lasting impression.