Recognize a big achievement

A hand-written note wishing co-workers or employees congratulations is a powerful way to recognize the achievements or milestones in their lives. Follow these tips to write a truly meaningful one:

Send the card quickly. Your message will lose its impact if you wait too long, send it while the person is still celebrating.

Write a well-thought-out message. Don’t just buy a preprinted card and sign it. Put some thought into your message.

Don’t talk about yourself. Don’t compare yourself to the person or reminisce about your own successes. Keep the focus on the other person.

Use “congratulations” early. Within the first sentence, use the full word, rather than “congrats,” which isn’t technically a word.

State specifically why you are congratulating the person. Comment on the achievement and praise the person’s effort. Just don’t go over the top with the praise, or you risk coming across as insincere.

Avoid jokes that could be interpreted the wrong way. Saying things like “I never thought I’d see this day” or “Wonder what you had to do to land this promotion” undermine the person’s efforts.

— Adapted from How to Write Anything, Laura Brown, W.W. Norton & Company,