In this modern age of email communication, text messaging and voicemails, the simple thoughtfulness of a hand-written note stands out from the noise and the crowd. What a wonderful tool for building personal relationships. Don't you love to find a hand-written note in your mailbox, on your desk, or on your pillow? Even the imperfect handwriting of the person who wrote it makes the note more interesting and less mundane.

There is something so personal about taking the time to write in your own handwriting, to say thank you or encourage someone. It means you took the time to think of the other person, and they almost feel that they are speaking with you as they hold your note in their hands. We each get so many emails every week that saying anything personal can easily get lost with the others we sift through.

No matter how expressive you are with creating text messages, like all CAPS and emoticons, it's just not like a note that's been penned just to you that you can save with your treasures. 

I like to see people build stronger relationships, both at home and at work. Taking the time to handwrite a quick note of praise, encouragement, or thanks will bring you closer to the other person you reach out to.

At home, I like parents to write notes of encouragement to their children. The focus could be letting them know that you see how hard they are working at a school subject, or their efforts at a sport, or an instrument, or how they are showing maturity, responsibility , or kindness within the family. It's fun to tuck a note like that into their lunch as a surprise or on their desk or pillow. Sometimes parents get so focused on correcting misbehaviors that we underutilize our power to point out what's right with our children and teens.

Teach your children to write personal, brief thank you notes and send them promptly from the time they are little. It's classy, and it teaches manners and relationship building. Have them send thank you notes even if they don't love the gift. It's a great lesson in being gracious. It's good to let them know that the giver put time, effort, and money into the gift, and that they will want to know that your child received it. It's disheartening and disappointing to send a gift and never hear back. A hand-written note is so much better than a text or email. When children are little, you can help them get the cards in the mail before they play with the gifts. You're teaching.

In your love relationship, apply the surprise handwritten note here as well. It feels wonderful to be thought of, appreciated, and cherished. Don't assume your partner knows what you find wonderful about them. Express it in writing! No one likes being taken for granted. Expression helps us avoid depression.

At work, relationships and manners matter here, too. In the April 6 issue of the New York Times, writer Guy Trebay emphasizes that in work settings, showing that you are civilized and took the time to send a note makes you stand out in a good way. It shows you really do care, as opposed to emailing in a rote way. Some people don't understand the necessity of good manners and thankfulness until they get out of college and have a first job. The fashion industry is one mentioned in his article that really cares about details and kindnesses.

Get a box of cards, some forever stamps, a pen, and go at it. Expressing your appreciation, encouragement, and feelings with a hand-written note is sure to help you build happier and more successful relationships, at work and at home. I promise, and you can get that in writing.