Sunday, July 7, 2013

The "Happy Folder" and the Power of the Written Word

In the past 13 years, I’ve reported to 10 different people across 4 different jobs.  That’s a lot of bosses; each with their own styles, strengths, quirks, and attitudes. 

I happened to receive a note from one of those bosses last week – the 1st of the 10 listed above.  The note came completely out of the blue.

In it, he told me he was rummaging through some old documents and happened to stumble across a note I had penned to him on the occasion of his leaving the company.  He told me that the words I wrote in that note meant so much to him that he held onto it for over a decade.

I was struck by his communication.  First, how generous of him to share his sentiment with me. Second, isn’t it amazing the power of the written word?  Words, when they’re cemented in a physical note, email, or a post become tangible to the recipient.  They can be saved, savored, or act as the ultimate pick-me-up on days in which it appears the entire world is against you.

At work, I keep and maintain a “happy folder” – a folder of files and emails from others to me in which they’ve taken the time to pay me a compliment.  And on really tough days, that’s were I go to confirm to myself that I don’t completely suck. 

I think other people likely do that as well, hence when it comes time to recognize someone for a job well done, I try to always do so in a written format that can be saved.  Saying “great job!” and offering a hearty handshake is so fleeting.  A heartfelt, honest, and eloquent written compliment can last for a long time.

In the case of my former boss, it can last over a decade.  And that out of the blue note he wrote to me?  Oh, yeah, it’s currently in my “happy folder.”

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