What Bill Clinton taught me about body language

My first assignment as a student journalist at NYU was to get a picture of something political, so I hid in a hotel bathroom stall for hours and impersonated a reporter from El Diario to get my shot of Bill Clinton. I recently had the opportunity to finally get a shot with him – and observe up close the charismatic aura that has been called a ‘reality distortion field’. I’m meant to be an impartial observer – yet he had no trouble getting the upper hand.  The man is a master of body language, and as an investigator there is a lot that I can learn from his ability to seduce in a split second.

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imagesI recently had the opportunity to sit in on a lecture by Sheila Lowe, forensic handwriting analyst. In addition to learning that my handwriting ranks somewhere between Elvis Presley and a serial killer, I also found out a lot about graphology. Can handwriting really be used for accurately analyzing personality as well as finding forgeries?

1. Handwriting is about space, form and movement – and not everything means something. 

Sheila uses the gestalt method – or ‘wholistic’ approach, meaning that she looks at the sample as a whole. This is different than the ‘personality traits’ method in which each characteristic is analyzed individually – for example, saying that the height of a certain letter indicates aggression.

2. Handwriting is a reflection of the energy happening inside of us – and sometimes, the results can be surprising. 

We all wear social masks, and handwriting supposedly gets to the inner core energy. And our ‘core’ personality doesn’t always reflect what’s on the surface – for example, Ms Lowe says that she was surprised that Angelina Jolie’s handwriting is ‘simplistic’ and reflective of a person who is under pressure and wants to protect herself. This flies in the face of her public image, where she does her own stunts, flies planes and bucks social conventions.

3. Handwriting can change.

Our handwriting may look different at different times, depending on how stressed we are or what is going on in our lives. As we mature or go through life changes, some of us have handwriting that develops or evolve to a more ordered  style, with a more measured use of space – while others, like Miley Cyrus, stay the same.

4. The white space is just as important as the letters. 

Many people focus on the letters, but Sheila explained that space is actually the most important part of handwriting. Space is also the most unconscious aspect of handwriting – and how much space we take up on the page supposedly represents our boundaries. The higher the letters, the bigger our ego –  while width represents our core self-esteem. Space on the page is a reflection of how much space we feel we deserve to take up in the world. Smushing letters together – like Casey Anthony – reflects disturbed space, and a short fuse.

5. Strong form doesn’t necessarily mean neat – and ‘disturbed’ handwriting isn’t just for serial killers. 

Actually, ‘strong form’ – which reflects self-confidence – can be messy and unconventional. Ms Lowe defines ‘weak form’ as the flowery cursive that we learned in school.  The movement is where we see balance in the writing, and weak movement indicates rigid, conventional thought patterns. She added that left-handed men have the worst writing of all. ‘Disturbed’ handwriting – where the words fall apart and have extreme variability (like my habit of putting block capitals in the middle of words!) supposedly means that I’m over emotional with no self-control and can’t stick to choices.

I think that this is absolutely ridiculous and I’m going to call her up right now and give her a piece of my mind! Then again, maybe I should just have a cup of coffee and calm down. 🙂

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