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The Power of the Personal Note

I am a greeting card connoisseur.     Real greeting cards, not e-cards…I am talking actual paper and an envelope.    In my office, I have stacks of greeting cards.  When I travel anywhere and shopping is on the agenda, I make a bee line for the card store.  I could wile away hours in a Paper Source or a Papyrus Store looking for funny, clever greetings.    I always want to make sure I have just the right card for any occasion.    I actually suck at remembering to send cards on birthdays and anniversaries.  I’m much more effective at sending sentiments to celebrate a random Thursday.

I am a HUGE fan of the “just because” greeting card.    The surprise note of encouragement to the person who is having a tough week.   The “congratulations for going a week without carbs” card or the “good luck with colonoscopy” note of encouragement.  That’s what I love.  Sending good wishes when someone least expects it.  

In the past 20 years, the handwritten note has gone the way of the do-do bird with the evolution of email, instant messaging, texting etc.   I personally would love to see us bring it back, particularly at work.     When I was leading large teams in my former life, I loved to write notes to team members to congratulate them on an achievement or to recognize hard work.  I called them “Random Acts of Recognition.”    Sure sometimes, I would email, but often I would write a note and leave it on someone’s desk as a surprise.    Why?  Because I know that feeling you get when you get to your desk and there is a note from someone.     You get all warm and fuzzy wondering who its from and what it says.    Maybe you tape it up on your computer to remind you in the coming days that someone cares about you and your contribution.  Maybe you keep a special folder of all your happy notes.  That’s what I did.    I saved every one of them.  And sometimes, when having a super crappy day when all seemed lost, I might reference the happy note folder to make me feel better and get back on track.   

I think as leaders; we discount the impact that our words have on the People whose efforts we manage.    What might seem like a small gesture to you in the form of a handwritten note, is soul food for the person on the receiving end.    I remember being blown away on many occasions when visiting the desk of an individual in my organization and seeing my handwritten note still hanging at their desk sometimes years later.   Remember, your team will not care how much you know until they know how much you care.     What a great way to show them then by taking a few moments of your time and writing a thoughtful note of appreciation or congratulations.    To your People, it will be worth it’s weight in gold, I promise.   

Now that I am working by myself out in the wild, I am still obsessed with random acts of recognition via the US Postal Service.   Here’s a selection of this week’s cards that I am pairing up with unknowing recipients. 

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So, if you ever go to your mailbox and you see the return address of 6 Whitmore with a Sesame Street stamp on it, be sure to tear open the envelope and enjoy the celebration of Taco Tuesday or Mammogram Monday or whatever nonsensical thing I am choosing to celebrate with you.     And pay it forward, you won’t be sorry.  

Here’s this week’s addition to the inspireal playlist…the most eclectic playlist on spotify.

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HAVE A GREAT WEEK!

Jill Parker