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Kristian Schwartz Headshot

Long Live the Art of Handwritten Notes (In the Business World)

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Imagine this: right now you have 2,070 emails in your in-box and two handwritten notes on your desk. Which one do you think stands out the most? If you answered "handwritten," give yourself a pat on the back. You are not only right, but you've also been listening to your mother.

Yes, they're a pain, and, yes, they take more time than a digital missive, but they matter. I'll never forget my mom asking (okay, make that hounding me) to send thank-you notes for everything from birthday and holiday gifts to a long weekend at a friend's winter cabin.

Back then, the concept of sending a handwritten thank-you note was lost on me. Maybe it was because children always do the opposite of what their parents ask (I am the parent to twin girls and can now speak to this firsthand). Maybe it was because I lacked the life experiences required to understand the meaning and impact of a handwritten note, so simple in practice.

Today, as a full-fledged adult, I'm married with kids and (hopefully) older and wiser. Definitely busier. Now, I know two things are true: 1) your mom is always right, and, more importantly, 2) keeping the lost art of sending handwritten thank-you notes alive is more important than ever.

I work in executive search. It's a relationship business. Period. Yet to reinforce these relationships and truly thank someone for their time, whether a referral or even a search assignment, nothing comes close to a handwritten note.

Yes, I could thank said person profusely at the close of our call (which is awkward), send an email (and get deleted), or Tweet a thank-you (which would be nothing more than self-promotion). Yet the handwritten note is my go-to. Why? Because the pen is mightier than the mouse and is the most authentic way to thank someone in our current era of digital flotsam and jetsam.

My motives are simple when I send a note -- to honestly and sincerely thank someone for their time. People are busy; they don't need to speak to me. Yet they choose to -- which is why I send handwritten thank-you notes.

It's amazing how people react to a handwritten note , as I often receive a thank-you note back in response. I am always blown away when this happens. In today's world of "fast,"  handwritten notes are a great way to slow things down a bit  --  even if just for a moment.

Some consider handwriting to be the window to our soul. If that's the case, then get writing and send some notes. It's contagious and starts here and now. So what are you waiting for?