When was the last time you received a thank you card or something in the mail just to tell you that you made a difference or that you are amazing? Not a text or an email, but a real-life, physical card you can hold in your hand.
Ok. Now consider…when was the last time you sent such a card? A card that you just sign your name to because it said ‘Thank You' on the front doesn't count.
I've become the one-way penpal. Earlier this year, I had my artist/illustrator friend Lisa Wood (Instagram @definitionqueen) design custom postcards with cartoons of me working well and playing more. I wanted something with branding, but not in your face. They came out beautiful and fun.
I always sent thank you cards to the meeting planner, coordinator, or host after a speaking engagement, but decided to push myself this year and send cards every week. I have it as a theme on Fridays for my Triple-A day – Admin, Accounting, and Appreciation. I haven't mailed notes every Friday, but I've certainly sent a lot, and it's more important now than ever.
When the pandemic started and we were sheltered-and-safe, I started sending them to people I thought might be most affected. Just a few words to let them know I was thinking of them and an air high five and fist bump. Since then, I've sent out well over 50, and I know they have made an impact.
Why am I the one-way pen pal?
Few people have sent me a personal card during the pandemic, which is totally ok. Instead, they sent me texts, Voxer messages, or photos of the card they received in the mail, which somehow made it even more endearing.
I did receive this photo of a card that Vistage Chair Wally Schmader thought he sent me, but then found it later. It was meaningful because he snapped that photo and sent it to me as soon as he saw it. Since I take pictures of my cards and thank-you letters and save them to Evernote anyway, it worked for me. It was the thought and effort that went into the gesture. It's much easier to text or email. It takes intention to handwrite and mail a card.
I'm already excited about my next set of cards I will have Lisa make. She has also made them for my client in Belgium, Madam Sew, who wanted their own to reach out to prospects, clients, and select customers.
Five reasons to send a card:
- Gratitude research is real. Yale professor and happiness researcher Dr. Laurie Santos has shown that giving gratitude has effects six months later. It's just as effective (sometimes even more!) for the person writing the card than receiving it!
- It sets you apart from others. Most people don't go through the trouble of buying a card, writing on it, buying envelopes and stamps, and walking to their mailboxes. (So inefficient when you could just text!) but so few people do it, you'll stand out.
- It makes you practice handwriting. Mine is so weak I can't even read my own writing sometimes #TrueStory. This is the only way I keep up with any practicing at all. I actually consider it a challenge, so it's an exercise for me.
- Remember that funny thing that happened ten years ago? Show them you're thinking of them and remind them of it too!
- Because it just plain feels good. I like writing the cards and knowing I may have put a smile on someone's face.
You don't have to have custom cards made, although I highly recommend it because it makes it even more special.
Don't like paper clutter and secretly don't want cards? I don't like paper either. I appreciate opening that card, holding it in my hand, and reading their handwriting. Then I snap a photo of it and store it in Evernote with the tag #ThankYou or #Card. This way, I can look them up whenever I want to. I'm more likely to scroll through my cards this way then dig them up out of a box somewhere.
Challenge for you: Think of three people to send a handwritten note to and express the gratitude you feel for them or just to say you were thinking of them. Who will they be?