In the business communication class I am teaching, last week we covered “goodwill messages” including notes for recognition, thanks or sympathy. The authors wrote: “finding the right words to express feelings is often more difficult than writing ordinary business documents. That is why writers tend to procrastinate when it comes to goodwill messages.”* The students in my class agreed. Hardly any of them shared their sentiments in writing, preferring to do so verbally, if at all.
But handwritten goodwill messages always mean so much more. In Jim Collins’ speech that I wrote about yesterday, he references a note his wife received from her high school cross country coach — and how she kept that note for four decades. Something so simple and handwritten had that much meaning that she preserved it for most of her adult life.
Even I hesitated before recently sending a note with a newspaper article to a former student. I wondered whether he would care to hear from me, but instead I received an instantaneous email saying: “It was absolutely wonderful to hear from you again! I appreciate your postcard so much; it made my entire week!” Why did I have any doubt?
The few moments it takes to put pen to paper to share your message has benefits that will far outlast the time it takes to share your goodwill. The next time you’re thinking about someone, let the words flow across the notecard rather than just crossing your mind.
*Business Communication Process and Product 8th edition by Mary Ellen Guffey and Dana Loewy