Email has almost completely replaced the written letter. This creates an opportunity. Written letters are so rare that they really stand out. You can really benefit from this special attention, but maybe nobody ever taught you the art of good letter writing. Here is a short guide…
The blog “The Art of Manliness” has some comic takes on the art of being a “man”. I find it funny. They had a recent series that was really helpful: templates for letters that we each should know how to write. Their template for a letter of condolence was a real help for me recently as I couldn’t think of how to start writing a letter to a friend who had faced a tragic loss.
7 Letters to Write Before You Turn 70
The 7 Letters are:
- A Letter of Congratulations – (check out this guide)
- A Letter to Your Father – (see this article)
- A Letter of Condolence/Sympathy – (see this article)
- A Letter to Your Future Self – (No guide, but here is my own version of a letter to my future self from 2008)
- A Love Letter – (check out this guide)
- A Letter of Gratitude – (How to write thank you notes)
- A Letter of Encouragement – No guide, some tips given below…
How many of these letters have you’ve already written? Which types of letters are your favourite to write and to receive?
How (and Why) to Write A Letter of Encouragement
I know many people who have faced hard economic times over the last 5 years as Europe faces the continuing fallout after the financial crash of 2008.
A letter of encouragement tells someone in the midst of a hard time that you’ve got their back and have faith in their ability to continue on or find a way out.
A letter can be more powerful than a phone call or a face to face talk. Letters are so rare as to be special these days. The power of the letter is in its permanence. It can continue to give motivation days, months and years later because the words are always available. The letter form often allows me to express clearly emotions that I might avoid in a face to face meeting.
The format for encouragement is the praise format that Ken Blanchard first shared with me. Create a distinct separation between the quality of the person and the state of the project. First, acknowledge that not all is going to plan and it must feel heartbreaking. Second, let the person know the important qualities you recognise in them. That’s all. Sign your name and put it in the post.
I think this letter can be short. In my past, it was the thought that mattered. The fact that someone cared enough to reach out.
I have had times where I have struggled with setbacks and doubt, times when I was tempted to abandon the path. I have been lucky in that friends, mentors and family members have stepped in with words, emails or letters of encouragement at important moments. (Thanks friends… you know who you are!).
Who will you encourage today?
Maybe a friend has lost their job and is starting to lose hope of ever finding another good position. Maybe an entrepreneur has recently been rejected from an accelerator program and is not sure whether they are good enough. Maybe a friend is going through a tough time in their relationship, or is facing a family health challenge that is starting to tire them out.
Who do you know who is facing a real challenge and could really benefit from a couple of words of encouragement from you?