Years ago at a friend’s birthday party, Elaine Charal’s reaction to the cake was very different from those of the rest of the guests.
“The person who wrote on the birthday cake must have been depressed,” she said.
She was able to determine that based on the fact the Ys on the birthday cake were dropping down.
A certified handwriting analyst, Charal’s world revolves around letters, strokes, slants and bars. She’s been practising since the late 1980s and recently held a workshop for teens at the Don Mills Public Library.
Handwriting analysis assesses peoples’ writing to determine their traits and personalities, said Charal.
“Your handwriting is a lot more than just the strokes you make on paper,” she said. “You handwriting is a paper mirror of your personality.”
Charal said that a person’s writing also changes two to three times a day depending on his or her mood.
“It will usually be the slant of the writing that changes. The more forward the slant the more emotional the person would be.”
Her ardor for the soft science was sparked nearly three decades ago.
“This gentleman took a look at my writing and said ‘boy are you ever clingy in relationships,’ ” she said.
Charal said she had never crossed paths with the man before, yet she was intrigued by his ability to obtain such personal information about her based on her writing.
“It was in the underscore of my name,” she said. “I had these hooks on both sides of it.”
But the beauty of graphology, as handwriting analysis is known, is that people are not condemned to their writing, she said. The key lies in becoming more of a conscious writer.
Charal said that the term handwriting is misleading because the messages are sent from the brain rather than the hand.
“If you change your writing then you’re sending different messages from your hand to your brain,” she said. “So when it becomes normal for you to make those changes you’re actually transforming something in your personality.”
While many label the art as a pseudoscience, not very different from palm reading and astrology, Charal said empirical tests in Europe and Israel show a correlation among certain traits and strokes and slants.
Despite the favourable studies, she said it’s a practice that still hasn’t gained momentum west of the Atlantic.
“It’s more common for hiring in Europe,” she said. “There aren’t too many companies here that would utilize it.”
She said she once tried to sell the idea to a Canadian bank. While the managers seemed interested, they didn’t adopt the procedure because their shareholders would grill them for it, she said.
“It’s just a hard sell, especially to Canadians who are not always open to change,” she said.
But she said the assessments are never used to judge people.
“It’s not to ever X out anybody for the job,” she said. “The aim is to understand them so to communicate with them more effectively.”
Usually the job candidate is told to fill out a form with work-related questions. Employers will then use that information to get to know their potential employee and to work through any weaknesses.
Charal is also frequently invited to corporate functions. She said her workshops and presentations are great bonding tools.
“It helps the corporate teams to get to know each other in a deeper respect,” she said. “Everyone gets to know the positive strengths of everyone else.”
Charal said the rate is very high and she’ll often ask her subjects what they think of her analyses. Still there are cases when a person will disagree with her assessment.
When such a situation arises, Charal said she usually asks the person to point to the part that was wrongly assessed and she’ll either elaborate or clarify what she meant.
Despite the critics, many of the participants at the Don Mills library, who just had their writings assessed by Charal, seemed pleased with the outcomes.
“My siblings have been telling me the same things,” said 16-year-old Sophia Lee. “I’ve never gotten in trouble because I can adapt to different situations.”
And 13-year-old Courtney Lee was also taken aback by the accuracy of the results.
Charal said the square Rs in Courtney’s writing indicate she has creative abilities using her hands.
“I thought it was true because I’m really good at art,” she said.
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