All we hear today is negativity and complaints about this product and that service, but we seldom express appreciation for the things that exceeded our expectations. Have you ever thought of sending a letter of appreciation to the people who gave you that excellent product or service? Yes, a literal, in-the-flesh, pen-on-paper letter of appreciation. For sure, you are reading this on some electronic device, probably after checking a few emails and messages, but chances are you still have at least a vague memory of the time when every message was written on paper. Do you remember what it felt like to receive a letter or card from a friend or a loved one? Do you remember how incredibly personal and touching that experience was? Is it safe to assume that half of you still have that stash of old letters and cards around somewhere? Professional freelance copyeditor and author of How to Write Heartfelt Letters to Treasure, Lynette Smith believes that if we can resurrect that experience for the people we deal with in business, we can unlock better professional and personal relationships that go a long way. Tune in as Terri Levine talks to her about this.
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The Power Of A Heartfelt Letter Of Appreciation In Building Business Relationships With Lynette Smith
In this episode, we’re going to help you make more of a difference with your products and your services, and do something that is completely heartfelt. Have you ever used a product that exceeded your expectations? You’ve been thrilled with the job that a plumber or an electrician did. Maybe your cleaning service performed and you’re like, “This is wonderful.” How about an attorney who helped you avoid a big legal problem or immediate customer service person who resolved something frustrating for you, maybe a billing issue and you’re like, “That worked well?” Many people tend to focus on what goes wrong. Imagine turning that around for a moment, and coming from a place of genuine appreciation for products or services done right and job done well. My guest is author Lynette M. Smith. She is going to show you how to change our world with a heartfelt letter of appreciation. I’m happy to hear this because everything that I hear are complaints. Lynette, welcome. I’m glad you’re with me now.
How exciting to be here, thank you, Terri. It’s great to be here.
I look on social media all the time and everyone is complaining, “This company did this and this.” I don’t see people out there talking about anything that is going well or going right. I’m curious from your standpoint, why is that?
They get frustrated with the way things are. The media is out there and they’re not always talking about good news. They get down after a while. That’s where your head goes. They’re getting dragged right down there. It’s frustrating to see what ends up looking like everything is bad all around but it isn’t if we can remember that there are good things in this world too, good people, good products, and good services. “What you focus on expands,” everybody’s heard that. Let’s focus on the positive and what’s going right. Let’s acknowledge what’s going right. That’s what it’s all about.
The first question I always teach my clients is, what is working? What is going right? People want to tell me their frustration and their challenges. What’s working? What’s going well? I’m curious, how did you come up with even the concept of these heartfelt letters of appreciation? Where did that come from for you?
It came from my wonderful son back in 2008 at his wedding rehearsal dinner. He and his bride to be each presented their respective parents with a heartfelt letter of appreciation. They have their best man and maid of honor read those letters aloud. Each letter talked about, what it was like growing up in the family? What qualities they especially appreciated about each of their parents? It talked about the values they had learned that they’ve planned to bring to their marriage. What a gift and I’m going to tell you that letter holds a place of honor in our home. Every time I read it, it means just as much as it did the first time. Every time I read and think about it, my eyes well up. It’s so cool. The lasting power of some acknowledgment that you’ve made a difference in someone else’s life.
As you’re saying that, in my office, there is a notecard I got from one of my clients. It had to be a few years ago and I’ve got many notes, which I love and appreciate. However, there’s something about the specifics of what she listed and I had done for her and not just income-wise. It was very specific. I keep this right here by my desk. I look at it regularly. Sometimes I look at the outside and I feel like the world is so perfect. I think that’s something is missing and people don’t write letters anymore. It’s like, “It’s your birthday. I’ll text you.” I’ll post on Facebook or whatever.In a world full of complaints and negativity, let us take time to acknowledge what is right in the world. Click To Tweet
A friend of mine bought me gorgeous note cards. She knows everything that’s heart is what I love. She bought me note cards with hearts in them. When she handed them to me, she said, “I’m sure you don’t write handwritten notes. Nobody does. I thought you’d just like the cards.” I said, “I’m one of these old-fashioned people. I write a lot of cards. I write a lot of notes and send a lot of letters.” She went, “You do?” I’m like, “Yes.” What is going on in the world where most people won’t take a few minutes to write something out and put a stamp on it? What is that and how do we shift that? That’s what I want to know about.
One of the things that are going on is we’re relying more and more on electronics. You’ve got electronic banking. You don’t get mail anymore. You get junk emails. The only mail you get are bills if they’re not sent to you online. You’re not used to being in this space of expecting a letter from somebody that says something nice. When I was a little girl, I used to exchange letters with my Aunt Tammy. She was on a farm in Texas. I would write to her, “Dear Aunt Tammy,” and she would write me letters back. We had this thing going and it was cool. It was part of what we were doing then because there were no electronics except that dial telephone.
We get out of this habit of even thinking and then here comes technology helping us first with email, then with websites, and then with texting. We start to think that’s the only way to communicate. Isn’t it funny that people will walk up to your front door and they’ll either text you that they’re about to ring the doorbell, won’t ring the doorbell or have to schedule an appointment and make a phone call? All of these things are so different from what they used to be. They used to be so spontaneous and yet you can sit and write a letter. It’s right there in the moment. You’re fully engaged and you’re not distracted. You’re focused on the message. I’d like to say one other thing. All of this technology has taken us out of the space of putting something down on a piece of paper.
We tend to forget that people have sent letters during World War II. How many of us have found a little bundle of letters in the attic? This is all from a personal letter standpoint but the same concept can apply in the world of business. Why the heck not? Let’s acknowledge what’s right in the world. People talk about journaling and gratitude journals, name five things you’re grateful for, and all of that. That’s fine but in the journal, it didn’t get to tell the real people who did right by you that they’re special and the job they did was special. Why not? Just do it.
I was thinking of several things as you were talking. First, I have every letter that my husband wrote to me when we weren’t yet married. I was in college in New York and he was in college in Pittsburgh. He wrote me a letter every single day for a year and a half that we were apart hard until I transferred to Pittsburgh. He never missed a day. I have that box with every single letter. We’ve been married for over 41 years. It’s not just a box. I go in there on occasion. When my mom passed, I found every letter of correspondence that she had with her brother, who died in the war. Every single letter between them up until the one that came two weeks after he died when it showed up at the house. I have her letters and I’ve re-read those letters. That showed up for me.
The third thing that showed up for me is it only takes a moment. If you keep some note cards on your desk or something like that and keep a pen handy, it’s so easy. I remember I did this years ago. I haven’t done it again and you’re sparking me to do it again. For 30 days, I had a habit of writing five appreciation cards a day. Whether it was to Comcast for solving a problem, whether it was somebody that I hired that solved a problem, whether it was to a client for being amazing, a friend, a family member. I got out of that habit and I think that’s such a good pattern. What advice do you have for someone who’s going, “I want to show more heartfelt appreciation?” What’s the first step?
Be receptive to opportunities to do it. Be aware of what’s going on around you. Don’t be in such a busy mode all the time that you can’t stop and go, “This went right. This went smoothly.” John David helped me out with this problem that I was stuck on. He stepped right in and he took control. He said, “Let’s do this. Let’s do that.” We got the job done together. I said thank you. In a year, he’s going to forget that I said thank you. If I write to him in a text, it’s just a conversation. It’s probably gone from his memory to a great degree. If I send him an email, that’s fine as far as it goes. It’s not pretty, but you can make it as heartfelt as you want to.
Do you know how inboxes are? Even if you put it somewhere else, that’s fine if you remember you put it there. What happens if your computer crashes and you didn’t have the perfect backup software? That’s a problem. Whereas if you can put something in writing like my son did with that wonderful letter and it’s still there and every time I read it, it feels good. It’s worth saving like all those examples you cited of the things you’ve got that you’ve saved. They’re very special and a piece of history too. Our business can have history. It doesn’t just have to be an individual’s history. Businesses can have a history of testimonials, feel-good letters, and things like that. Wouldn’t it be lovely if somebody would send them one when they did do it right? I try hard every day to do it right and nobody says anything. They just sent you the bill. That little extra step, stop at the moment and do it.
One other thing that comes up for me, my nephew had moved in with us and he lived here for four years. When he moved in, he was in a difficult time. My husband took him under his wing and mentored him. We took good care of him. We contributed and helped out with his wedding. A thank you card came and I expected the normal routine thank you card. My husband was at work and I opened this letter. He’s told this whole story of when he moved in, how he didn’t think he could ever have a job. He didn’t think he’d ever meet a woman. He was so confused. His life was a mess and the four years that he lived here, he grew into this young man that has a successful business of his own. He met the ideal woman. It was all the appreciation for what the two of us had done.
I read the letter and I still remember I was at the kitchen table. I was sobbing my eyes out. I called him up that night before my husband had even seen the letter. His name is Charles. I said, “Charles, I don’t think you will ever understand what that letter means.” He said, “I didn’t know another way of sharing the appreciation.” I said, “There couldn’t have been a better way.” I kept it and I watched my husband when he came home, Mr. Macho. He read the letter and I saw the tears in the corner of his eyes. He said, “Where are you going to put the letter?” He knew we’re saving this.
The last thing that I wanted to share is I did a TEDx Talk a few years ago. There was a young girl on the stage. She was maybe sixteen years old. She’s very nervous. There’s a lot of difficulty with her TEDx Talk but none of that mattered. What mattered was her message. Her message was that she had written a letter as a young girl to her grandmother. That meant the world to her grandmother. Her grandmother recently passed and it changed everything in their relationship. Her entire message was about letter writing.
I remember sitting there thinking, “This is a young girl and here she is. It doesn’t matter that she couldn’t get a great TEDx Talk out.” Her message was the greatest TEDx Talk I’ve ever heard. A young person impacting people. I just wanted to share those two experiences with you and with our audience. I’m curious, who do you work with? Who’s the person that would be a good client for you. How do people reach out to you? The moment you and I got on and started to chat, you have such a beautiful heartfelt way about you. I know our Heartrepreneur friends are going to dig you.
My company name is ALL MY BEST Copyediting and Heartfelt Publishing. The books that I do are heartfelt because I want to touch people’s hearts, and I want people to touch one another’s hearts.
Tell us who you work with then we’ll talk about how do people get in touch with you and get your books.It only takes a moment to write a letter of appreciation, but it will have the power to make a difference in the other person’s life. Click To Tweet
I do have two websites and one of them is AllMyBest.com. That focuses on copyediting and proofreading for authors’ books and manuscripts. I have a website that is fully developed in terms of answering the questions you might want to know if you’ll update that author or that publisher. I’m here ready to help and I do come from a place of wanting to help. People see that because I truly want them to have the best book they can have. That has to do with the copyediting and proofreading. The other website is GoodWaysToWrite.com. That’s the one that focuses on writing the letters.
That’s the one that focuses on my life purpose rather than my career, which is to get people to write those heartfelt letters personally or professionally. I’ve found that it will enhance, establish, or even rebuild a relationship, putting that in writing and getting it into somebody’s hands. That website is the one where you can get the book or learn more about the book. The book is How to Write Heartfelt Letters to Treasure: For Special Occasions and Occasions Made Special. It’s available in all major online retailers as well as through my website. That’s the one focused on the letter-writing. I’ll just mention briefly. Back in 2015, I got this wild idea. I’d write this other book from the left brain. It has the world’s most boring title, 80 Common Layout Errors to Flag When Proofreading Book Interiors. That’s the one that’s going off the topic of writing the letters. That’s also available on that website or the information about that is available through that website.
Not only do authors need to have editing. I was talking to a client and he had written a special report that I asked him to write. It’s four pages and I went through it. I said, “The outline is great. I get where you’re going. It needs a good editor.” He said, “It’s just to a four-page report.” I said, “Yes, and it’s what people are downloading that represents you.” I told him, “I never put anything out there in many years without having an editor take a look at it because I’m not an editor. I want you to get an editor to edit this.” He was surprised and open. He came back and said, “I need someone who can get me and understand me.” I said, “That’s what a good editor will do. They’ll take your essence. I’m going to make that introduction.”
The other thing is I have to get a copy of your book because I am a big fan of heartfelt letters. I want to say to everyone who’s reading. If you’ve ever identified with the word Heartrepreneur, and let’s face it, you wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t, there’s no better gift that you can give someone in my experience than a heartfelt letter. I tell my client family members all the time that I appreciate the gifts that they’ve sent. They’ve sent all kinds of amazing gifts. My husband’s like, “You have a lot of secret admirers.” I’m like, “They’re not secret.” I appreciate every one. However, the ones that touch my heart and soul are the letters that I can keep. They are memories that I can look at and pick up. If you wake up in the morning and you’re having a not so great day or whatever your experience is, go and read some letters that people wrote you from appreciation and gratitude. It reminds me of every purpose.
The last thing I want to share. I had a huge problem with AT&T a couple of years ago. It’s a huge problem in their store. There was one error after the next. It would have been funny except it was real. I was there for four and a half hours. I had to go through a lot of rick and rolls. However, when they fix the problem, they went above and beyond any expectation I would have ever had. It was so far above. I said to the gentlemen that I was speaking with, “I appreciate that I have your name, your phone number, and your email. Is there an address that I can write to?” He said, “Are you writing another complaint?” I said, “No, I want to write about this amazing experience that I had with you. I’m happy to put it on social media and on my blog. I want to send this letter.” He said, “Please, nobody writes.” I wrote a letter to him. I asked for his supervisor’s address and it went to both places. I got a letter back from his supervisor. He had been in the business for twenty-something years. It was the first positive letter he had ever received.
People try so hard to do a good job and they don’t get that acknowledgment. Put it in writing and shock the heck out of them. Send it to their employee, their supervisor, maybe send them another one to Human Resources for the file. Make sure it gets into the hands of the people that matter. Also, people who are providing a service or product, sometimes they’re doing this as a charitable effort. They’re making a difference in the lives of the community or the world. It’s not necessarily to you personally but you see this and you want to acknowledge it. You can just write it down. May I say briefly too that it doesn’t have to be handwritten. Thank you notes are lovely when they’re handwritten, but you can also compose on the computer. If it’s to be handwritten, I’ll hand-write it. If it’s to be a business letter, which often is the case with a product or service, then I’ll go ahead, whatever way it feels most natural to you. If you’re feeling insecure about writing a business letter, you can Google what the format is. It’s not hard. The answers are out there.
I’m glad we’re having this conversation. I’m thinking about the people I want to write letters to, people on my teams, some of my clients, who have come in and helped me over the last few months in my home with some personal items. In addition, a doctor that did this amazing, over the top telecommuting sessions with me. Also, a couple of my vendors. Yes, I pay them and I expect good work. However, the work that they do is even beyond my expectations and I want to let them know how thrilled I am. What’s a takeaway and action that you can give our audience so that they get a heartfelt letter of appreciation out there.
Remember who you worked with, who you work for, who works for? Pay attention to the job they’re doing and start looking for the good. Remember, they don’t always get things in writing and neither do their supervisors about them. Try to turn that around and fill their files with good things, not complaints. When someone feels acknowledged for the effort they made, they keep making that effort. They want to keep doing the right thing for others. Here we go again, changing the world one heartfelt letter at a time.
I resonate with you so much. I am glad that you’ve been here and we’ve had this opportunity. Please remind people of both of the websites one more time.
For book authors, publishers, and publishing cultures who want copyediting and proofreading done, that is AllMyBest.com. For people who want to know more about writing heartfelt letters, business or personal, that is GoodWaysToWrite.com. That’s where there’s more information about my book as well.
You have been one of my most fantastic, fabulous guests. I have enjoyed this every minute. On my first break of the day, I’m committing to writing five cards. I’m excited and thrilled to do it. Thank you. You truly are a gift. I appreciate you so much.
You yourself is a gift. Thank you, Terri. It’s been great.
For the audience, you are a gift also. You have the magic to give in the world through your products, your services, who you are. You make a difference. We see you. You’re brilliant shining diamonds. You look perfect. Get your message out there. Not only be grateful but also focus on what is good and working. Be thankful and help. Be of more service to the world. The world needs you, your products and services. Thank you for reading. We look forward to seeing you here next time.
- Lynette M. Smith
- TEDx Talk – How To Create Happiness And Success At Work
- ALL MY BEST Copyediting and Heartfelt Publishing
- How to Write Heartfelt Letters to Treasure: For Special Occasions and Occasions Made Special
- 80 Common Layout Errors to Flag When Proofreading Book Interiors
About Lynette Smith
Lynette M. Smith is a professional freelance copyeditor with over 30 years’ experience. In 2008, her son, Byron, at his wedding-rehearsal dinner, presented Lynette and her husband with a framed, heartfelt letter of appreciation; it was better than any purchased gift!
Inspired by his original gesture, Lynette wrote and published the award-winning comprehensive reference book, How to Write Heartfelt Letters to Treasure: For Special Occasions and Occasions Made Special, describing how to write 157 kinds of letters of appreciation.
Lynette refers to her book as a KEY to UNLOCK better relationships—personally and professionally—and it plays an important role in her life’s purpose—what she calls her Big, Achievable Goal: to get millions of people worldwide to write heartfelt letters of appreciation so they can establish, enhance, and even rebuild their relationships and in that way change their world.
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