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Writing By Hand, Is It Lost Forever?

· Communication,Work Styles,Results,Networking

Once when visiting family and friends in Illinois (outside of St. Louis), a cousin’s daughter shared that at her high school, they are all issued laptops on which to take notes in their classes. They also had all their textbooks loaded which was probably a positive thing. She shared that she doesn’t like taking notes that way and asked a teacher if she could take them by hand and was told that it would take too long. To what end, then?

At other times, I have been engaged in discussions about the elimination of cursive penmanship instruction. And some younger people are seeing this as a plus in their world of the smartphone with its amazing technology for instant and real-time voice-activated communication.

When I attend professional meetings, networking is a key component of these events. Following up with new and former contacts is crucial. I’m sure that many with whom I meet exchange business cards with at least 50 individuals or possibly more over the course of a multi-day conference. Developing a strategy for follow up in a timely fashion and knowing that I was going to need some material electronically, I began thinking about how I could do something to help me to stand out. After all, isn’t being different what gets noticed?

Thinking creatively about how I could be noticeable, I decided that my first contact after the conference would be with a handwritten note. It takes a little longer, but I thought that it would be worth the effort. So, I broke out the note cards and began addressing personalized notes in my own hand, and already received some positive feedback about how refreshing it was to receive my card.

Here’s what one person said: “Thank you sooooo much for the beautiful thank you note. It is always a treat to receive something handwritten. You are simply a treasure filled with class and elegance. There is no doubt in my mind that what you give to your clients is a beautifully wrapped package. I hope we get to work together on a project.”

I’ll let you know not IF but WHEN that project materializes. So, I am thrilled that cursive writing was taught when I was in school. In fact, having been a teacher myself, it was something that I integrated for my 4th grade student, but that quite a while ago.

So do we as a culture, eliminate penmanship and teaching our youth to write in their own hand? To what end?

“Sending a handwritten letter is becoming such an anomaly. It's disappearing. My mom is the only one who still writes me letters. And there's something visceral about opening a letter - I see her on the page. I see her in her handwriting.”

- Steve Carell