Read the writing: Penmanship can reveal deep truths

Handwriting analysis is no longer for freaks and psychics. Multinational companies hire handwriting analysts to understand personality traits of prospective job candidates. Character traits that matter during the hiring process– creativity, self-esteem, leadership, and optimism, for example– may all be revealed in handwriting.

Learn how to analyze your co-workers' handwriting and your own to give yourself an edge at work. The basics of analysis are quick and easy to learn. Getting along with other people and knowing yourself are essential pieces to career success, and analyzing people’s handwriting can help you speed up the process. Here are some examples:

Get along with people better
Knowing someone's personality traits is invaluable for collaborating with and motivating that person. Depending on people to tell you their own traits is risky. Most people don't know themselves well enough.

Fortunately, with very little expertise, you can use handwriting to evaluate someone’s dominant traits. For example, someone with a signature with a lot of space between first and last names is not going to be an intimate, emotional person, so you can stop trying to forge that kind of relationship. If the first and last names overlap, that person is relationship-oriented and probably wants more than long-distance management.

Make better career choices
You can also use handwriting analysis to gauge your own dominant traits. Then you can figure out which career is best for the type of person you are.

For example, you can learn what sort of handwriting is appropriate for the job for which you aim, and compare your own handwriting to that standard. Angular is appropriate for a programmer and inappropriate for a sales person. Perfect schoolteacher writing reveals the need to establish order and would be a bad sign if you wanted the freethinking required of an inventor.

Improve your image
Handwriting is like clothing. Your audience evaluates your message by what it looks like. You wouldn't wear sweatpants to an important meeting, nor would you wear a ball gown. Take the same care with your handwriting.

For example, in a note to your boss, if your letters are rigid and perfect, you’ll project the image of someone who is anal, inflexible, and non-visionary. Fine if you are an accountant, not fine if you want to be CFO. If you scrawl a quick, barely legible note to your boss, you seem to be more involved in your own ideas than in the people around you. You might project the image of an eccentric artistic genius, but if you aspire to management, write more legibly.

Your signature also projects self-esteem. I’m shocked by how many people have a very tiny signature. You need no training in handwriting analysis to know that this is an expression of low self-esteem. Even if you feel like you want to disappear, force yourself to sign your name like you want people to see it.

Any doubters should test my theory. Get a handwriting analysis book from the library. Skim just a few pages to get an idea of what to look for. Then take handwriting samples from people you know well and evaluate them. I bet you'll find the rules of analysis are accurate.

When you add handwriting analysis to your career arsenal, start small– look at different loops and slopes and figure out what they mean. After a while, you’ll find that handwriting analysis actually feels intuitive; and like all insights, once you have it, it'll seem obvious, and acting on results of handwriting analysis will make as much sense to you as it does to those multinational companies.
Penelope Trunk has worked for many businesses and even started a few, and now she's too busy to write her column. This good advice is reprinted from an earlier edition of the Hook.

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