When Did You Last Write a Letter?

December 3, 2014

Ok, so let’s get this guilty admission out of the way early so we all know where we stand. This blog post was inspired by I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. There we go. Phew! I feel better now and not ashamed to admit that I love it.

It was last night’s episode that really got me thinking again about the power of written words and just how much of a difference they make to people, even in everyday circumstances.

The celebrities received letters from home and as they were being read out there were many tears, smiles, hugs and laughter all from such a simple thing. Words. So it got me thinking. What is it about writing words down that seems to make them resonate so much more? Why is it special?

Call me sad, maybe I had far too much time on my hands, but I used to write my mum letters when I was at university. And before you go thinking that I must have gone to uni in the dark ages, it was in the 2000s so park that idea.

What I loved about writing the letters, apart from being excited about getting post in return, was that it gave me time to think about what I had done, what I wanted to say and how I was going to say it. We’ve all had conversations with people, even arguments, where we’ve said things in the heat of the moment that we didn’t mean to say, didn’t want to come across the way it did or even just said things that were outright lies. And some of us are just rubbish at saying things in person.

A letter gives you the ability to think about what you are writing, consider how you want to say it and think about the impact it will have on the reader. You might think that emails do the same thing, but really they don’t. Emails are the pauper of the letter, the typo-ridden, brain dump that allows you to send something quickly. What’s the longest time you’ve spent on an email? I’m guessing nowhere near what you would on a letter.

Letters can be beautiful. Take the letters that sweethearts sent to each other during the war. It gives you something tangible to hold and allows you to express feelings that might be difficult but in a way that is measured and controlled.

Somehow, you can evoke emotion in something that is written that you simply can’t do in a conversation. Is it all in the planning? Probably. And that is something that is often lost in our communication-easy society today. Messages on a day-to-day basis are rarely planned and that is something that can damage the way we communicate with each other.

Shortly before he died, my Grandpa said to me: “The further you look into the past, the more you will see into the future.” So let’s all take a leaf out of his book and look to the past – send a letter to someone who needs it. The future of communication shouldn’t ignore its powerful ancestors and that’s as resonant for businesses as it is for individuals.

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