We live in a fast-paced world. Some of us don't seem to have time for the very people who are most important in our lives, our family, friends and business colleagues.
We get so caught up in the details of life that matters of substance are left on the floor. But we all need to learn to slow down and reflect on where we are and where we are going. It may not be easy, but if we don't do it, we'll eventually lose our way, and that surely will be disastrous.
So it was with more than passing interest that I recently picked up a new book entitled Business Notes by Florence Isaacs (New York: Clarkson N. Potter, 1998). According to the brief biography on the jacket of the book, Isaacs is past president of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and has contributed to such major publications as Woman's Day, New Woman, Parents and Good Housekeeping. A resident of New York City, she also is author of Just a Note to Say...The Perfect Words for Every Occasion.
Isaacs writes about something I feel strongly about, something so simple and rudimentary that I'm amazed more individuals haven't picked up on it -- the common-sense idea of writing personal notes to colleagues, customers, friends and others. The simple act of writing a personal note to someone communicates caring, concern and respect, feelings we'd all like directed toward ourselves.
Look at it this way: What's the first thing you open when you go through your mail? I'll just bet it's the envelopes that have been hand-addressed. They get your attention because you feel someone has taken an extra step to communicate with you on a personal level. They appeal to your ego and make you feel as if you are being treated with dignity and respect.
Author Isaacs puts her thoughts on notes this way: "On the most basic level, notes can keep your name up front, speak eloquently about you and your company, and create a sense of community with those who affect your work, your bottom line, your life. They can sometimes even change an outcome in your favor or deliver an order. The business world is a tough one, but we're all human, and we respond when we feel a personal connection."
In other words, what your handwritten note says to the person who receives it is that he or she is important to you and to your organization. But the person who receives the note isn't the only one who gets to feel good. Isaacs writes: "There's also a bonus for the writer -- the satisfaction and pleasure of thoughtful expression. It reminds us of an age when pulses didn't race quite so fast, when there was time to enjoy our lives and connect with people."
Isaacs also offers advice on how to write effective personal notes. The best notes are concise and to the point, she says. It's always wise, whether in conversation or writing, to keep things brief. Put yourself in the shoes of the other person -- show consideration and respect for his or her time.
There's no limit to the opportunities you'll find to write personal notes -- births, marriages, condolences, anniversaries, promotions. Your thoughtfulness and caring will make a big impression. Avoid the excuse that you don't have time for that personal touch; start making the time and learning the discipline of note writing. It will pay off with big dividends for you and your business.
Brevity is golden, Charles S. Lauer Publisher