A client of mine told me something valuable a long time ago. He said he writes personal notes, on stationery, in handwriting, to several people each week who have done something noteworthy. I asked him how he found the time to do this, due to his busy schedule as a high profile trial lawyer residing in the busy northeastern United States. He told me there is always time to congratulate someone on a job well done, on a promotion, or other accomplishment (and there is always time to send a note of condolence). He challenged me to write some personal notes to people, while measuring the length of time it took to write one note. I accepted the challenge and since that time, I have followed this person’s example of sending congratulations notes to people who have achieved something or in some cases, who need a little encouragement. When I began this note writing campaign, I also made sure to measure how long it took me to write one note. The answer is: about 5 minutes. So, for a 5 minute commitment on any given day, it is possible to make someone happy by writing a note that says “way to go!”; “good job!”; or “congratulations!”. In a previous post, I mentioned my philosophy about writing thank you notes, but this post is about something entirely different, in that there is no social expectation from the receiver of the note concerning receiving it. For most people, the note comes as a great surprise and is received with much appreciation. For people who say they don’t have time to engage in such niceties, I say I don’t have time to NOT be nice!
In a time when instant communications are the norm, old fashioned, paper, pen, and stamps count for more than ever. The decrease in “real mail” is remarkable and that makes notes, as Melissa describes, more noteworthy. Or at least more noticeable than a decade ago. All the more reason to do this. We treasure the notes of thanks or congratulations from our clients. So, I imagine, as the world goes, most recipients do. I admit that I’m not always as timely about writing notes as I should be, and certainly not as Melissa is, but I get around to it. In fact, when I finish typing this today there are a couple pending ones I need to write. I will say that it has been disappointing in recent years that, in one situation when a note would be a nice touch, there have been few, if any. I’m talking about after we’ve interviewed a job candidate. I was taught that a note to the person who interviewed you was a common courtesy and a nice touch if you wanted to get the job. But, I have seen a tremendous decline in such notes, although a few post interview notes come via email. To job searchers, I’ll say you are missing something. But, more than that, it is important to acknowledge and “reward” with even the small token represented by a note. Never discount the power of such simple touches.