When You’d Better Write a Note

Slowly, as with real, snail mail letters, the handwritten note has almost become a lost art.

Call me old fashioned, but I firmly believe that times still exist when nothing suffices to fit the situation but a note drafted by hand and sent via the good ol’ United States Postal Service:

  • Appreciation: Dinner parties, gifts, assistance with household chores—in short, personal gestures that require someone to spend time (or money) for you—deserve handwritten notes. However, e-mail and phone calls serve most business situations: introductions, job interviews, project assistance. These gestures come from a professional place, so professional media suffice. Also, many business roles require a lot of time away from the office, meaning that snail mail may not arrive—or may not arrive quickly enough.
  • Condolences: If someone you know suffers the passing of a person or companion animal, sending a handwritten note of sympathy should go without explanation, even if you plan to attend memorial services or stop by your friend’s house with a casserole. The permanent loss of a life requires extra consideration from every angle; the pain and shock completely overwhelm even the strongest person.
  • Congratulations: If you run your first 5K or get a new job, I’ll probably send my kudos via e-mail—or just “like” your Facebook or LinkedIn post. But big moments in your personal life—marriage, newborns—deserve a handwritten note of congratulations.

You don’t even need special note cards on heavy paper stock and personalized stationery. Standard, school-reminiscent, lined notepaper will do. The power of the handwritten note lies not in the paper, but in the tangible evidence of your consideration, the intimacy of something you can hold in your hands that came from the hands of another, the comfort of the medium.

When do you send handwritten notes?