When was the last time you were complimented on your correspondence? Being genuine and thoughtful are both easy to do when you know how. Sometimes all it takes is putting pen to paper and in the form of handwritten notes, create an effect that can last a lifetime. It's easy to let time pass and forget about what’s happening with the people you care about and their lives. But you could always create an impression that shows someone you are thinking of them. Simply by taking time out of your schedule to write a note just for them.
When it comes to personalized attention, I’ll walk you through four ideas on how to make yourself really shine.
#1) Personalized is Preferred
Who is sending mail through the post office since the world of email has taken over? Not many people, so this is precisely why it is an excellent way to stand out. You can use this for most occasions. For example, if someone you know does something nice for you, writing a note to let them know how much you appreciate their kind gesture warms both your hearts. I use Papier, which has beautiful paper and cards for scribbling lovely messages of gratitude or support. When I place my order, I have my name printed on the letter head or card. And so when I write to someone, it's unmistakably from me.
You may give your correspondence a personal touch by customizing your stationery with a return address on the back of the envelope, a rubber stamp with your family name and address, or a mailing sticker that includes your return address. This is the type of finishing touch that makes an impression.
#2) Write With Serious Style
I remember the first time I saw a Montblanc pen. It was a beautiful shiny black with a large iridescent white logo on the tip. The lady who owned it was a teacher for the airline. Every time she wrote anything on paper, she had made a gesture of taking off the top and placing it next to her on the table. Her elaborate show made it seem special that she had the honor of writing with that particular pen and that not everyone has the privilege to do so.
When it comes to selecting the right pen, although this may not be something you think of, I opt for black and have not strayed from the Pilot G-2 07’s for the smooth ink flow and quick-dry ink. Something I love to do is go to a specialized pen store and try writing with different pens. If you can’t make it over to Hermes Rive Gauche in Paris, you could stop by your local Staples for some hardcore pen-testing. You may realize how writing with a beautiful pen can make you feel more elegant. Like this pen will give you the courage to write words you never thought you would!
Try writing with them on different types of paper. Feel the weight of the pen. Look at how tall it is. Does it have the correct weight? Is the grip smooth and comfortable? Does it seem effortless to write? Do you like roller balls versus ballpoint? Or would you prefer the fine point?
Also, when choosing a pen, it’s good to think about whether you are prepared to buy refills or would prefer to buy a new pen for each use. I will tell you that your pen can complement your style, and you may become known for it should you decide to invest in one designed by the likes of Hermes, Cartier, Visconti, and of course, Montblanc. Finally, choose one that you know you’d like to write with and look at for many years to come. Think of it as a special item you can pass down to the next generation.
#3) Expect the Unexpected
Birthdays. Congratulations. Condolences. Thinking of you. Get well soon. There are countless reasons to have cards and stamps handy. To show that you are placing importance on someone else, giving or sending a card on any occasion will help brighten someone’s day with your thoughtfulness.
I adore the cards from Trader Joes – they are always introducing unique designs and are a great value. Another company I suggest is Papyrus for when you have an extraordinary moment. They have a nice paper quality and feel that helps bring your message to life. When purchasing cards, buy them in advance and keep a selection ready for the time that may come when you need one and don’t have an opportunity to stop by the store.
#4) Thank You, You’re Amazing!
Have you ever received a handwritten thank you note? If so, how did it make you feel? There are so many reasons, every day, to tell someone that you appreciate them. It could be as small as that person made you smile when you needed it the most; they brought you your favorite drink when you least expected it or took their time to drive you to the airport. Again–so many reasons!
There are many ways of creating and structuring words of gratitude; here is my short and simple attempt on how to go about it when someone may have given you a treat from their overseas trip:
February 22nd, 2022
Dear (___First Name___),
I’m glad that you enjoyed your trip abroad. It was indeed a surprise to receive the Scottish shortbread. What a delicious treat! Thank you for thinking of me.
(___Your First Name___)
It is proper to write the date on the top right. Some people like to save their received thank you notes and enjoy reminiscing when they see the date.
A question I often get is – “What if my handwriting isn’t that great?” For something as simple as a short thank you note, aim for clear penmanship, and it’s okay if it isn’t cursive. However, if you’re breaking a sweat just thinking about handwriting a note, then ask someone to assist you, and sign your name at the bottom. Another idea is to type out a letter, print it, and then sign it by hand.
The last case resort, should you not know the person's address, is to text them. I recommend using the same format as above if you are not too familiar with the receiver. In some cases, an emailed thank you might be preferred. There are quite a few ways to format a personalized thank you; this is just one alternative to help you get started.
And in review, how you correspond and communicate with others when you are not physically there is vital when developing a polished personal brand. Being thoughtful about how you communicate, whether it be by a letter, card, or text, makes an impression that can add to your reputation.
About the author, Janika LeMaitre
Jan is a certified etiquette advisor, specializing in personal brand strategy. Her mission is to provide life-changing soft skills for business owners and industry trail-blazers to self-manage and evolve their reputation. Jan is certified with the Protocol School of Washington® and The British School of Excellence™. In addition, she is the board president of Women's Business Group Connects, and as a second-generation Rotarian, proudly serves as a board director at the Rotary Club of Weston & Wayland.
Download your complimentary copy of Jan's "Handling Gender-Neutral Pronouns With Style" quick guide here.