Creating meaningful connections through snail mail
By Danielle Hess
Last Tuesday, the metallic clink of my front porch mailbox closing snapped me out of an hours-long trance of staring at my computer answering emails, completing design tasks, and participating in video calls.
I took that as my cue to get up and stretch (It’s already 2:30 pm?!) and was overjoyed to find a letter from a friend who lives far away. The 20 minutes I spent walking to my mailbox, reading the letter, and penning a response rejuvenated me; making the rest of my afternoon much more productive and enjoyable than it would have been had I remained glued to my screen.
As the pandemic continues to keep us apart from our loved ones, colleagues, and clients, we are interacting via seemingly endless forms of technology 24/7. Despite this constant communication, many of us still feel a lack of human connection and are searching for the best way to keep those relationships strong from a distance without experiencing screen fatigue.
A More Personal Connection
What we are missing is a more personal connection that technology doesn’t always facilitate.
As a self-proclaimed avid “snail mailer” my solution to this is simple: add a little pen and paper to your communication routine. Not only does handwriting create meaningful connections with others, studies have shown that it boosts happiness, eases stress, aids brain cognition, and even improves idea composition.
According to Danielle Brooker in Forbes, these are “factors all adults could benefit from, particularly given increasing rates of burnout, stress and loneliness.”
Additionally, unlike most digital interactions, handwritten notes are often saved—pinned to a bulletin board, slipped behind a magnet on the fridge or even tucked in the frame of a mirror. The recipient may be reminded of you every time they look up from their desk or grab a snack from the kitchen.
3 Ways to Harness the Power of Letter Writing
1. Write a Note of Appreciation to a Helpful Colleague
If handwriting a full letter sounds daunting to you, postcards are a great alternative.
Postcards only have space for a few lines of text, and a short message is just as valuable! Finding a thoughtful note, no matter the length, tucked among someone’s usual bills and junk mail is almost always guaranteed to put a smile on their face.
My love for writing postcards to friends and family inspired me to start the Duarte Post program as another way for Duartians to connect. The front of each postcard features art created by a Duartian and the back includes a little bio about the artist along with space to write a short note to a colleague. We even created special edition designs for Employee Appreciation month as seen below.
2. Mail a Thank You Note to a Client
If you don’t have the time to write your thank you by hand, Postable.com is a great service that prints, addresses, and mails a card for you. All you need to do is pick a design, type your note, and provide the mailing address. You may not have stepped away from your screen, but you took the time to write something thoughtful and your recipient will still receive a tangible card instead of just an email.
3. Include a Tangible Participant Kit as a Part of Your Virtual Workshop Offering
Many of Duarte’s virtual workshops come with a robust, physical kit mailed to every participant. This is more than just a way to connect with them; providing participants with a place to hand write their notes can also improve their comprehension and memory of the workshop learnings.
No matter how you go about it, writing a letter or sending something by way of snail mail is a great way to make a meaningful connection with your colleagues, clients, and loved ones. Not only will they appreciate your thoughtfulness, you’ll benefit from the time away from the constant volley of messages on your glowing screens.
All you need to get started is a pen, some paper, and a stamp!
P.S. Did you know that via the United States Postal Service (USPS), you can send a letter to any residential or business address in the nation for just 55 cents? And postcard stamps are even less expensive at 35 cents a pop. Totally worth it to connect with someone you care about.
P.P.S. A postscript, or “P.S.” for short, is a related note written at the end of a letter. Making this is a post-postscript! Happy snail mailing. 💌
Photography by Danielle Hess