I was reminded about the importance of words of encouragement, listening to a segment of This American Life recently. The story is called "Jesse's Girl" and is about a man who managed to con hundreds of other men by maintaining correspondence through a pen pal service.
What strikes me is that the letters didn't have to be especially personal, but their kind, encouraging tone was still enough to help some people through difficult phases of their life. The con aside, and the victims' vulnerability too, what matters is kindness. When you have the chance, don't hesitate to offer someone encouragement. Do it for free, do it without expectation, send a text, respond to an e-mail. Words matter!
The episode in question can be found here.