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How Handwritten Notes Make You More Influential

How Handwritten Notes Make You More Influential

Remember the days when you’d sit down and write out all your thank you letters? Picking out the nicest writing paper and carving out the perfect response? Maybe you even had a pen pal you wrote to on the other side of the world.

The art of handwritten notes has fallen short in today’s quick-and-easy methods of communication. Text messaging and social media messaging has numbed the excitement and personalisation of conveying that special response — it’s all too easy and sterile with no real sense of character and thoughtfulness.

To show how handwritten notes are so effective, a U.S. company called HEX decided their customer loyalty could go one step further. Gone were the automated thank you emails to each customer and in came 13,000 handwritten thank you notes from the employees themselves.

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How does this make a difference? Well, handwritten notes can actually make us more influential at work, in business, and in our own personal lives. It evokes positive communication and has great influence on those both sending and receiving a handwritten note.

How Handwritten Notes Can Make Us More Influential

Rarity Creates Value

Handwritten notes are pretty rare these days. Can you remember the last time you sat down with a pen and paper and really thought about what to write? This is why handwritten notes are so influential — the rarity of writing and receiving a letter adds to its value. It means someone has put thought and effort into something that could easily be written in a 30-second text message.

Genuine And Edit-Free

When we send a text message, the ease at which we can deliberate and edit the message creates the sense of a lack of authenticity and genuine intent. When we handwrite a letter, editing is less occurrent, so the notes are deemed a better reflection of our genuine feelings.

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Material Keepsakes

A physical note can be cherished and kept, making them more memorable for the receiver, unlike text messages that just become another number in our inbox. How many of us have those letters from friends and relatives in a shoebox stuffed at the back of a drawer? How nice is it to look back and reread them? Memories come flooding back and smiles appear across our faces. A text message years from now will be long gone to the invisible messaging graveyard.

Evoke An Impression On The Receiver

Research has found up to 100 instant messages can be sent by one person alone each day, with corporate email accounts receiving and sending 100 emails a day. We are so used to receiving this daily wash of words that, as stated earlier, we devalue the meanings. Receiving a quick email thanking you may initially rise a sense of warmth but it’s quickly lost and forgotten in the sea of emails and messages.

A handwritten note shows deeper investment as paper, stamps, drafting, and visiting the mailbox indicates costliness in both time and effort — the appreciation is perceived as greater and leaves a lasting impression. It can show a person is not forgotten, follow up on previous conversations, or even include a gift; all of which show care and thoughtfulness.

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Positive psychology research shows the importance of gratitude on our wellbeing and happiness and it shouldn’t be underestimated how little shows of appreciation can have a massive effect on someone. Creating this in handwritten form is a powerful influencer, upping the wellbeing of both you and the receiver. Leaving a stronger emotional impression on the receiver gives us the power to be more influential.

How To Make Use Of Daily Handwritten Notes

So, how can we bring back the art of handwriting our notes instead of sending off a quick text? Writing has always been seen as expressing our personality, so it’s a perfect way to get creative.

Personification

Making your note unique and personal will always be a winner. Whether you leave a note for your other half when you leave in the morning or say thank you to a friend or neighbour, don’t be afraid to put your stamp on it. Go back to your childhood when you’d draw doodles and smiley faces (the original and best emoji!). Make it personalised for them.

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Make It Longer Than A Standard Text Message

Short notes are great, but to really influence and make an impact, particularly at work, make sure the note is longer than what you would write in a standard text message. This shows you’ve really put effort and thought into it — especially if it’s involving your customers.

Emotional Expression

When we write text messages, the fast nature of writing and sending them detracts from emotional sentiment. To make a handwritten note that’s much more special, take the time to express how you feel through gratitude, thanks, warmth, and a sense of connection. These are things we tend to leave out when we know it will end up in someone’s trash inbox almost straight away. Take the opportunity to really get those feelings across.

Time Intervals

Unfortunately, as humans we adapt to things very quickly, which is why we tend to devalue something the more we have it and the same can be applied to receiving handwritten notes. Make sure you don’t send them too frequently to one person or there could be a danger of adaptability. Make it a special one-off every now and then and catch people by surprise.

So, why not make that special impact on someone — be different from the rest and stand out. Let’s bring back the art of handwritten notes and rise against soulless text messages and keyboards!

Featured photo credit: Aaron Burden via stocksnap.io

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Jenny Marchal

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Last Updated on March 14, 2019

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

How it helps you:

If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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How it helps you:

Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

How it helps you:

This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

How it helps you:

One word: hierarchy.

All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

How it helps you:

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Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

6. What do you like about working here?

This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

How it helps you:

You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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How it helps you:

What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

Making Your Interview Work for You

Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

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Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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