How you can uncover personality traits from your handwriting
PUBLISHED: 10:57 07 November 2017 | UPDATED: 11:01 07 November 2017
Graphologist Elaine Quigley can uncover personality traits from your handwriting, Sandra Smith discovers
Do you ever give much thought to handwriting? I don’t mean as a method of communication, or even individual content, but rather the idiosyncrasies of the shapes we create and the underlying influence behind personal forms.
Analysis of the physical characteristics of handwriting first surfaced hundreds of years ago, though such historical interest has never deterred my scepticism. It took graphologist, Elaine Quigley, to enlighten me. During an afternoon at her Chalfont St Peter home I discover this pseudo science is not only far more grounded than I’d realised, it is also uncannily accurate. You see, every dot, letter and angle, even margin dimensions, convey more than a written message, they reflect the person behind the words.
“It’s amazing how much writing can tell you about people,” Elaine explains. “Everyone’s characteristics are replicated in their writing.”
The Melbourne-born psychologist arrived in England during the 1960s and trained as a secretary before marrying at the age of 18. An interest in youth work while living in Scotland led to her being in charge of arts and crafts at a youth club which often attracted up to 200 teenagers. She describes how the combination of this role and a BBC show triggered a lifelong interest.
“At that time I used to listen to Pete Murray’s Open House on the radio and one day he interviewed Fraser White, a graphologist. No one could believe how accurate he was. The youth club was a bit rough so I thought, what about that handwriting? I went to the library for a book. It took three weeks to find one but after reading it I asked the children to show me some writing to see what it told me about them. They loved it!”
Ongoing interest prompted her to undertake an Open University Social Psychology degree which encompassed Graphology.
“I was so enthusiastic and I had the knack,” she recalls. “When I did my thesis I wanted to do something on Paisley where I lived at the time. St Mirren Football Club let me see their old books which contained minutes of committee meetings – that was quite an honour. The fascinating thing was that all the people lived within four miles of each other and had been to the same schools, yet their writing was different, individual.”
Opportunities to use her skill have resulted in Elaine working with companies looking for recruitment advice as well as team building and even entertainment. She takes me through a recent assignment.
“I received some samples of handwriting from applicants for a senior job. These people had already completed psychometric tests but my client wasn’t sure about one or two. When I saw the writing examples (they had a choice what to write and each applicant chose a different topic) I knew instantly which was right, but nevertheless I worked on them for a couple of days then produced a report. My client was over the moon as my comments ticked her boxes.”
She shows me the pieces without revealing the successful applicant. Each is enviably neat. The one I’m drawn to, however, is open and clearer than the others. There’s a ‘femininity’ about the style which, Elaine advises, is akin to caring. This is the man who was offered the job.
As well as using her skill at talks and events, social gatherings are also popular. I wonder if she ever recognises a characteristic that is, shall we say, best kept under wraps?
“Yes! But the beauty of something like a hen party is you have the bride and groom’s writing. I can say they are different but opposites attract; that although you can’t always figure why a person thinks the way they do, it is satisfying to be with a partner who’s different.”
Recalling an exhibition event she once attended, one brief analysis went beyond the writer’s expectations: “A large screen projected handwriting from passers-by. When a group of teenagers approached they pushed one lad forward. He was terrified! His signature looked like a spider having a heart attack but his writing was okay. I just pointed out the good things, such as potential for upward development. He went away walking tall.”
Analysis of handwriting, having first established the writer’s age and whether they are left or right handed, begins with the shape of letters rather than content. Mood and stress levels have an effect while margins are also indicative of attitude: a wider left hand margin suggests a forward thinker, someone who is willing to go out to the world, whereas a greater space on the right side denotes a person who is more focused on where they’ve come from rather than the future.
When I arranged to meet this Chairman of the British Institute of Graphologists she offered to analyse a sample of writing. And I wasn’t the only one keen for feedback.
I hand over three anonymous pieces of writing which vary in content and length. In less than a minute this charismatic expert sums me up: creative, independent and practical with a dislike of being told what to do. Akin to watching an illusionist, the accuracy leaves me floundering for words. “How on earth,” I mutter, before she moves on to a page written by my daughter, whose neat prose confirms a tendency to be her own person, caring, a good team member and well grounded. The final test is similarly accurate. My husband, Elaine confirms, is confident and wise, a planner who doesn’t like to make a fool of himself.
Without giving away too much she indicates some of the signs she looks for: the way a ‘t’ is crossed or ‘i’ dotted, the lower zone of letters such as ‘y’ and whether or not their shape interferes with the line below.
Never were three people evaluated so accurately in such a short amount of time. Back home my family greets their results with surprise and amazement. I confess, previously none of us had really taken graphology seriously. Now we know better.
• The story behind The Arts Society in Wokingham - Behind the scenes in Wokingham, a group interested in finding out more about everything from street art to tapestries is thriving, Linda Fawkes discovers