Handwritten Thank-you Notes: the Power of Detail

Although we have almost forgotten this practice, the handwritten notes arouse great emotions. The power of a “thank you” written by hand or the ink of a pen joining the letters of a “I love you”, leave a mark forever in the heart.

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Handwritten thank-you notes have power. It is a deliberate act that starts from the heart to be printed on paper. It is the ink of feelings forming a thank you, I love you, I miss you…

People are forgetting the healthy exercise of writing and how this practice, immortalized in simple notes, postcards or letters, arouses smiles and emotions.

However, this does not mean much less that our immediate messaging based on whatsapps and other systems, has less value. Those ‘good morning’ or a ‘how are you?’ Is something that we have become accustomed to, something that makes up our day to day with the people we care about and that undoubtedly reverts to our emotional well-being.

The handwritten note has another kind of transcendence. It is enduring, requires effort and shapes a type of detail that intensifies any message. It is a prosocial act that is no longer seen so frequently. Because we are not talking about the simple postcard of rigor that one can send for Christmas or for a birthday. We refer to a handwritten message to thank, for example, a friend to be so magical and special in our life.

They are ingenious phrases to tell a co-worker that “it’s worth gold”. It is also, that post-it we put in the suitcase or between the clothes of our partner to surprise him with a ‘I love you’. Or it can also be a sincere and friendly writing to address our parents, siblings or grandparents reminding them how special and valuable they are in our lives.

“My God, how many things would I say if I knew how to write!”

-Ramón de Campoamor-

Handwritten notes of gratitude, the power to intensify positive emotions

Amit Kumbar, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, in the United States, made a curious and striking study on the effects of handwritten thank-you notes. The work was published in the journal Psychological Science and revealed data that invites us to reflect.

Not everyone appreciates or understands the power of handwritten notes

In this research, Dr. Kumbar and his team asked a large sample of people to write thank-you notes to people around them. Also, they were asked for two more things. The first that predicted what effect that gesture could have. The second, to point out how the response of those nearby figures who had received the notes had actually been.

So, something that you could see in that experiment is that there are those who underestimate this practice completely. What’s more, a part saw it with some discomfort for a very simple fact: they were not used to giving thanks, to show feelings in an open manner. Doing it in writing was not comfortable either. The experimenters defined this behavior as a bias of selfishness.

A prosocial act that maximizes well-being

Writing handwritten thank-you notes was for a good part of the experimental group, an exercise in well-being. It was because they imagined that gesture would be received positively. Predicted the effect and that generated more excitement. Issuer and recipient lived that simple experience in a very positive way.

In addition, they used the surprise factor. Write notes by hand to thank, to recognize the people they loved, to dedicate a love you or a feeling of admiration, is not very common. It was a prosocial act that was lived in many cases in a very positive way.

We do not expect anything in return, it is a gesture of recognition made with authenticity
When we send a message by whatsapp, on average, we expect two things. The first is to read us and see the blue check validating the reading. The delay in seeing that symbol often generates anguish and even restlessness in many people. The second thing we want is an answer; Sometimes, even a simple emoticon is enough for us.

Now, with the handwritten notes of gratitude, the same thing does not happen. It is an old-fashioned exercise. We will not know at what moment the receiver will read the message, we will not receive a notification, nor the blue check, let alone a response. In fact, the common thing is not to wait for it, because the purpose of these notes goes in only one direction, reaching the receiver’s heart to tear him away a smile, an emotion…

The anatomy of the best handwritten thank-you note

How should the best handwritten thank-you note be? Very short? Original, fun, extensive, with colored paper, wrapped in envelope or better a postcard with picture or drawing included? Actually, there is no exact formula that works in all cases.

However, there are two indispensable variables: sincerity and simplicity. The note acquires value when traveling with it the illusion of surprise. It may be short or it may be long, but whatever the case may be, it is better written by hand, with good or bad writing, but that is ours, that starts from the depths of our feelings.