Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Lost Art of Letter Writing

There was a time when other than speaking to a person face-to-face, the mainstay of communication was writing letters. There were no e-mails or instant messages or Myspace accounts. There were no computers or Blackberries or cell phones. There was just a quill, a bottle of ink and a piece of paper. And with these simple implements, relationships developed and flourished. It is how John and Abigail Adams held each other up during this country’s fight for independence. On March 31, 1776, Abigail wrote John, “I have sometimes been ready to think that the passion for liberty cannot be equally strong in the breasts of those who have been accustomed to deprive their fellow-creatures of theirs.” Who writes like this today? What has happened to our gift to move others with our words? If you recapture the lost art of letter writing, you will find you personal and business relationships blossom.

No one writes letters any more. So when someone receives a written letter in the mail, they cherish it. Those letters are often keep. Read again. Put away, only to pulled out to be read again. If you want to make an impression, buy yourself stationary - professional looking stationary with your name and address across the top of the page and on the corner of the envelope - and commit to writing at least one letter a week. Pick an old acquaintance or an executive you met at a networking event. Sit down at your desk, with your stationary and your letter writing pen (I would suggest to make the experience complete, go out and splurge on a nice pen that you only use to write letters), and draft a letter. The first few letters are difficult. With e-mails and word processing, it is hard not to second guess every word you put down on paper. It will take some time to learn to write letters. Some of you will find the experience too bothersome to even pick up. Others will throw down your pen in frustration and your stationary will collect dust in the bottom drawer of your desk. But for those of you who stick with it, writing letters will become a natural and regular part of your life. You will find that these letters will forge closer relationships with family and friends. You will also find that these letters will forge closer relationships with business prospects and clients. In short, the forgotten art of letter writing will be good for you and good for business.

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