The Lost Art of Letter Writing: Part Four of How Leaders Respond Timely

Mailbox iStock 000001202894XSmall5 I have embraced the power of technology and social networking but I have not been so foolish as to have abandoned the single most influential and personal form of communication available — letter writing. It still amazes me that I can send my words to someone thousands of miles across the country in such a short amount of time, and make an impact in their life, and perhaps even mine. Letter writing is indeed a lost art, and one leaders need to embrace and master.

Can’t afford to give your hard working employee a raise?Reward them with hand-written praise. Even a post-it note with a couple of well chosen words hand-written will go farther than your most skillfully worded email or text, because you’ve made it personal. You took time out of your day for them. You created something tactile. It’s art.

Letter writing isn’t just a skill, when it’s done correctly it elevates itself to an art form. Its power is only increased by the fact that so few others participate in its creation. Think about it. Nothing is more cherished in the mail than a hand-written card or a well worded letter. People receive hundreds of impersonal emails a week but perhaps only one personalized letter. (If even that.)

If you want to stand out and make an impact: practice, master and utilize the lost art of letter writing. People remember those who remember them.

Write letters. Write thank-you cards. Send a note of congratulations. Leave someone a personalized message of appreciation.

There are few things as exciting as seeing a personalized letter in your mail. Not a form letter or junk mail, but a real letter written by someone, just to you. You know someone took the time to pen this note. You stare at the envelope and wonder what is inside.

It’s Unique. No one else is doing it. Letters stand out. Wow! You took the time to do this for me!?!

Compliment: Corporations and organizations receive a lot of negative feedback. It is rare indeed when someone writes a letter to offer thanks or recognition. Sometimes they like to reward that. I actually received a phone call from the CEO of OGIO bags once because I wrote a letter telling them how awesome I thought their bags were. They loved it. I was invited to assist with a creation a triathlon sports bag. The product never got off the ground, but it all started with a letter.

To Thank & Congratulate: I am always mentioning my Moleskin journal in my posts because I know of its incredible value in my life. I always keep a couple of thank-you cards in the built-in folder in the back. I like being first to thank someone for their help or congratulate them on a success. I strive to be first and I strive to be memorable. Always write thank-you notes and send congratulation cards. It’s never too late. There is never a bad time to send a get well or sympathy card. Be on top of this!

Postcards: The power of a written letter is that it is personal. When you remove that personal touch and create a form letter that you mail to a hundred or more people, it is now reduced to junk mail. People just don’t have time for these. (Yes, I know there are exceptions.) My postcards are a little different because on the reverse side I have my art and that, at least for some, makes it a keeper and more importantly a reader. It is also very easy to personalize a postcard with one sentence and your signature. “I am looking forward to meeting you at this conference! ~ Kelly” A powerful one liner. Keep it short.

I recommend writing a letter a week to those you admire. Ask nothing in return. Just let them know you exist and you appreciate what they do. Practice your craft well. One day a door will open, and you will be remembered.

Be sincere. Be authentic. Don’t say what you don’t really mean. Keep your word.

You need to read well written letters. Study them. Practice. Enjoy the process. Find ways to make personal letter writing a part of your leadership practice.

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Kelly Croy is a chalk artist and professional speaker.

He has entertained and amazed audiences across the nation including corporations, schools, churches, conferences, and anywhere people come together to be entertained and inspired.

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