How often do you think about your signature? Probably rarely. Most of us invented our idiosyncratic scrawls and scribbles years ago — and have left them largely unchanged ever since. But we use them every day, making our mark on contracts and credit cards; signing for parcels, passports and everything in-between.
But what does your signature say about you? We asked professional graphologist John Beck, co-founder of The Graphology Society and handwriting consultant for the City of London, what quirks or characteristics can be gleaned from our own autographs.
How do our signatures reflect our personalities?
“In psychology,” says Beck, “you have something known as the ‘persona’. It is not often what we are, but what we would like to be — a small act we all put on when we first meet people we don’t know. This is almost always the case when you work in business. All businessmen know how to portray a professional ‘persona’, and who they really are is often difficult to ascertain.
“Why do I say this?” he continues. “Because a signature in handwriting analysis 100% represents the public ‘persona’ a person is giving out — and not the actual person behind it. This is the reason why signatures nearly always look totally different to a person’s writing. One is the real person — and the other is the image they want to portray.”
What can we learn from the size of our signatures?
“If a person’s signature is much larger than their writing — which is nearly always the case — then the person is going to assume a higher social profile or need for attention when they’re in public,” explains Beck. “They will appear ‘larger than life’ in many instances, despite very often being a good deal more reserved underneath.
“A large signature is also a sign that the writer is ambitious,” he adds. “A signature smaller than the text of the writing betokens someone putting on a more modest and quest exterior to the world — but a more attention-seeking personality is likely hidden behind this façade.”
What about the legibility of our signatures?
“A clearly legible signature — not as common as you may think — indicates someone who, generally speaking, likes to appear socially open. They’re more inclined to show themselves as they actually are, and the image they portray is likely to be more honest.
“An illegible signature,” Beck counters, “shows a person who is usually very secretive and likes to keep others guessing about who they really are. They can talk for hours — but still give nothing away about themselves. An illegible signature may also indicate someone has something to hide, although not in all cases.”
What can the angle of our signatures signify?
“A leftward leaning signature,” reveals Beck, “will indicate someone who is very reserved — especially about getting involved too quickly with someone. It also shows a need to be private. They’ll likely be polite, but will give nothing away about themselves.
“A rightward-slanted signature,” he continues, “shows someone whose public façade is sociable and easy to get on with. That right slant shows an ability to easily make contact and connections with others.”
What if your signature features decorations and embellishments?
“Embellishments are not very positive,” explains Beck. “If someone adorns their writing with loops, flourishes and flashy movements in order to look distinctive, this is not good.
“Often, such people have a need to appear ‘special’ and they’re usually very talkative — but often boring. It is, basically, someone wishing to be more special than they probably are.”
What about the general style of your signature?
“A rounded or curved signature shows someone who likes to get on with people, and avoid conflict,” says Beck. “A spiky or angular signature is someone who can be critical and possibly aggressive — someone it would be difficult to work with, as they wouldn’t be worried who they upset.
“A thready signature,” he adds, “which is one that looks like a straight line that you can’t read, indicates someone you have to be careful with. They could be evasive and difficult to tie down — often manipulative, skilled in diplomacy and very good at not being around when trouble begins.”
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