Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A Touch of Class

     I can say with certainty that it is easier and faster today to communicate via the written word than at any other time in our history.  From our beginnings with the Pony Express to mail that travels via wireless satellite signals, correspondence has become instantaneous and accessible to anyone with a keypad—whether on a mobile device, computer, or cell phone. While the instant gratification of today’s electronic communications has increased the frequency and speed with which we converse, the element of the personal touch is becoming rarer by the keystroke.
     Not long ago, I was in a position to hire a new employee.  After sorting through various applications, a colleague and I narrowed down the pool to 16 prospective employees.  Interviews were scheduled for each of them and the process began.  After two weeks of meeting with applicants, I was very impressed with more than a few.  However, several days later, as I was making the final decision, I noticed that only one of the applicants had followed up with a handwritten thank you note.  Guess who got the job?  
     As simple and outdated as it may seem, a thank you note can make all of the difference to another individual, especially in this technology inundated world of ours.  Granted, the abundance of media today can make relaying a message easier, but that doesn't necessarily mean that we should have a complete dependence on it.  Not only is a personal handwritten note polite, it demonstrates that you value the person to whom you are sending the note and you are willing to take the time and make the extra effort to tell them so.
     Think for a minute about how much unsolicited mail we receive on a daily basis.  How nice it is to check the mail and see a handwritten envelope amid all of the bills, credit card offers, and local sales flyers.  Which do you open first?  I know that for me personally, seeing a handwritten note immediately puts a smile on my face and is normally one of the highlights of my day.  Handwritten notes are often encouraging and make others feel appreciated.
     When is it appropriate to send a handwritten note?  Thank you notes can and should be written for meals, gifts, services, and any other situation when you feel gratitude toward someone.  As I mentioned earlier, a very important, but often overlooked, time to send a thank you is following a job interview or yearly evaluation.  Not only does this say a lot about your character, it also places your name in front of the employer one last time before he or she makes a final decision.  
     Many of the most prominent and influential people in our society send personal notes.  Is there a correlation between sending notes, status, and success?  We may never know for sure.  However, one story is told that George H. W. Bush carried a box of note cards with him on the campaign trail.  After each event, he immediately penned thank you notes to all of the volunteers and event workers.  Many people believe this helped him win the election for the Presidency of the United States.  It definitely didn’t hurt!
     As easy as it is to use technology to communicate today, are you willing to make the added effort to go above and beyond and write a personal, handwritten note?  It is truly easier than you may think to set yourself apart from others!  A simple way to ensure this happens is to always keep a good supply of cards, envelopes, and stamps on hand in an readily accessible area.  Before you know it, this added touch of class will become a habit of the best kind.
     Remember, handwritten notes are the personal touch people are looking for in today’s media-deluged world.  Making this special effort is an act of engaging with another person and is one of the best methods of networking that I know.  It only takes a minute to jot down a note, yet it can open paths for fostering friendships, creating new relationships, and broadening employment opportunities.  Aside from this, you’ll gain personal satisfaction in knowing you went above and beyond what’s expected.  A touch of class goes a long way and is appreciated by many.