Why E-Mail Will Never Replace the Letter

25 February 2014

For today’s young generation, the dizzying choice of digital communications means they can stay in touch using not just email, but Skype, online chat and other texting services. Sending a letter seems to many like something from a bygone age. In business too, the speed and convenience of email is threatening to make sending letters obsolete. After all, why wait two days to receive information when you can get it almost instantaneously, and at almost no cost? However, for both business and personal communications there are still times when “a letter is better”. Here are some of the reasons why.

The Personal Touch

Those of you old enough to remember the pre-internet era will doubtless still have a box or two of old and cherished letters stored away – and chances are, they’ll be handwritten too! No email will ever replace the personal touch of writing and mailing a letter to someone, and the same goes for business too. For some industries, such as publishing, letters are still an important way of communicating news with a client or following up on meetings and interviews. If you want to say thank you to a business colleague or even a friend, there’s no more personal way to do so than to send a letter.

Time Taken is Value Added

In an age when we’re overly used to getting everything without waiting, there’s increasing value to be found in simply adopting a more deliberative approach to tasks. While letter-writing is certainly more time-consuming than firing off an email, it’s the very time taken that reflects its value to others.

People approach the writing of a letter in an entirely different way to writing an email. We reflect, ruminate and organize our thoughts more carefully. We consider how our words may sound when they’re read aloud, and what the receiver may think upon reading them. In both our personal and business lives, we’re too inclined to send emails without giving enough thought to the words they contain. Letter writing forces us to slow down and communicate our ideas more effectively.

Make an Impression

Even the most carefully crafted email is just a click away from instant deletion once it lands in your busy recipient’s inbox (or, worse still, their junk mail folder). A personally addressed letter, on the other hand, is far more likely to be opened and its contents examined with care.

A well-written letter makes an impression that no email can copy: that’s why we still treasure letters in an age of email convenience. While emails serve us well when it comes to less weighty matters or when we need a quick response, a good business or personal letter will leave a lasting impression.



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