Sleight of Hand

24 Apr 2014
POSTED BY Y Magazine

Even if you’re a deeply private person, just writing a few lines can reveal your innermost character to your employer, says Tom Robertson

Tapping away on the keyboard, I can hardly remember the last time that I sat down and actually put pen to paper. Especially for something more than a scrawled phone number on a Post-it note or a colleague’s takeaway order.

 And, with generations of schoolchildren resorting to keyboards earlier than ever, you may think that handwriting is a thing of the past. 

But you couldn’t be more wrong. For the chances are there’s at least one person who’s interested in seeing in what your handwriting looks like – your employer. Or, failing that, your future employer.

Because while you may not think that your illegible scribbles mean a lot, to companies who employ graphologists – or handwriting analysts – it’s a useful tool for assessing a great deal about you.

Experts claim that asking people to submit examples of their handwriting and then analysing a series of notable characteristics is an effective and reliable indicator of both behaviour and personality. 

Handwriting, they say, may reveal how the writer feels and the way in which they think. These traits can apparently be seen immediately. But how does it actually work?  

In essence, graphology claims that the different features we see in handwriting can show the motivation that lies behind the dotting of the I’s and the crossing of the T’s. 

A graphologist will look at aspects such as movement, spacing and form and study the variations between them. More specifically they’ll look for a series of features, from among over 300, that are purported to reveal different aspects about a character. It’s those features that provide the information for analysis. 

But what exactly can graphology be used for in the workplace? 

For recruitment, graphologists claim to be able to select the most appropriate candidate for the vacancy by assessing suitability for the role, strengths and weaknesses. Then there’s using the candidate’s handwriting to evaluate honesty and integrity of individuals. And it’s exactly this kind of forewarning that companies are starting to value when it comes to the recruitment process, as the cost of recruiting an individual becomes an expensive business. 

Time and resources have to be put aside for the interview process but there’s also an inherent risk factor in employing new staff. The company may well be about to commit to employing a individual they know little about.

“It is not used as the defining factor in the decision-making process,” says Paul Turtle, former managing director of Butterfields Banking Group, which has used the process in the past. “However, it has been shown to add an extra dimension to the jigsaw, which has frequently been validated once an employee is in situ.” 

But the ‘science’ isn’t without its critics as opponents seek to discredit a method that they argue exhibits regular flaws and is not able to accurately predict an individual’s temperament.

“Lots of studies over the years have shown that it is all a load of rubbish, and not fit for use in any professional setting,” says Professor Laurent Begue, who works at the University of Grenoble in France as a psychologist.

But with both psychologists and graphologists fighting to be the first choice in the recruitment process, it may well be that each side has something to gain by discrediting the other’s methods. 

Here in Muscat, however, there are psychologists that use the method themselves.

“Handwriting is a window to both the conscious and subconscious mind and handwriting analysis or graphology can be used as an effective tool and reliable indicator of the personality and behaviour of individuals.” says Roma Fernandes, of the Whispers of Serenity Clinic.“It is also a simple and harmless way to understand a lot about a person without even having to ask them a lot of intimate or private questions. It is also a well-researched field with a lot of evidence to support its findings.”

The good news for us in all this if we are faced with providing a handwriting sample? Professional graphologists agree that bad handwriting is by no means a sign of sloppy work or a lazy attitude to employment – it can frequently mean a high degree of intelligence. 

Analyse your handwriting

  • Pressure – Applying a lot of pressure may mean that the person has lots of emotional energy.
  • Letter size – Large letters may indicate an extrovert personality and small letters a quieter individual.
  • Slant – If the letters slant to the right it may indicate a willingness to engage, and assertiveness. Upright says a personal can be dependable, and to the left is reflective.
  • Connection – Linked letters may indicate a strong logic while disconnected letters infer imagination.


Handwriting doesn’t lie


“The CV and how the candidate comes across at interview can mask either positive or negative traits that lie beneath the surface.  This is when you have the option to buy in the expertise of a Personality Profiler or Graphologist. When used correctly, graphology can give a good indication of a person’s personality structure, their ability to grow and develop, and perhaps more importantly their integrity.”  

Margaret White, Consultant Graphologist

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