Certified grapho-therapist and leadership strategist Jamie Mason Cohen spoke about his unique and unusual ability with Thrive Global. He can spot a person’s strengths and weaknesses in less than 60 seconds through analyzing their handwriting.
He shared insight on how we can use our handwriting to better understand ourselves, improve our confidence, and build up our skills, as well as how it can play a significant role in our self-care strategies.
Thrive Global: Take a moment to think back to your childhood, is there a moment, that you can recall a fascination with aesthetics of handwriting?
Jamie Cohen: I was standing on stage and I froze. I was thirteen years old in Grade 8 drama class. I couldn’t get the words out because, at that time in my life, I stuttered. I came home and told my mother what happened. My mom was a teacher and a handwriting analyst. She saw a trait in my handwriting that looks like a figure eight. It’s a trait that may appear in the writing of elegant speakers and prolific writers.
My mom said, “Honey, one day, I believe you’re going to strive to speak and write for a living.” I was totally skeptical. I said, “Mom, are you telling me you can analyze my personality based on a few strokes on a page? That’s ridiculous!” Well, I didn’t say that last part to my mom, but I may have thought it. My mom is my hero.
What my mom’s insight did is it planted a seed that I could change and grow. It was at this moment that I became fascinated with why people behave the way they do. This weird, obscure personality assessment tool known as handwriting analysis, or graphotherapy, became a means for me to learn about myself. Handwriting analysis also became the ultimate ice-breaker, when I was working in New York for Lorne Michaels, the Executive Producer of Saturday Night Live.
On my first day, I found myself surrounded by writers, directors, and comedians, all of whom wanted me to analyze their signatures. A few years after that, I was a high school teacher in Toronto and wanted to find new ways to reach my students. When traditional strategies didn’t work, I looked at their handwriting to see the genius that lies beneath their name on the attendance sheet. Three decades after my mom showed me how the aesthetics of a stroke can reveal my latent strengths, her words came true. I became a professional speaker, the recipient of a TED Education-Huffington Post International teaching award, an author, and an online course creator of Secrets and Strengths in Your Child’s Handwriting.
TG: When you think about handwriting — the fascination for lines, slants, and curves to create sound — how do you envision such as symbols of the Universe?
JC: When you look at Beyonce’s signature, it reflects the art and sound she projects to the world. Beyonce demonstrates a multitude of creative abilities. The thickness of the line on the capital “B”, combined with the graceful motion and rhythm of the “B” shed light on the musical quality within her. The line that flows out of her first name appears in the shape of a musical staff. Beyonce, like all of us, created these handwritten strokes as a subconscious symbol of how she sees herself. We all have the art inside us, as my sister, Carly, says. Those amongst us who share similar traits in our handwriting have this sound in our heart; it may just manifest in different ways: as a musician, as a teacher, as a mom, as a writer, as an entrepreneur, as an energy healer, as a life coach, or as a beekeeper.
Handwriting is a mirror upon our universal, subconscious energy. Wherever I’ve analyzed peoples’ handwritten strokes — from Luxembourg to Malaysia to New York to Toronto — what gives me hope for humanity is that we all share universal characteristics and traits. We’re defined by our common humanity through our handwriting more than we are by our differences. We just have to look. We are not alone in our shared vulnerabilities, our aspirations, our hopes and our goals for ourselves, our families, our communities and the future of our planet. We may want to be mindful how we project our energy and our best traits into the world or else those traits could become liabilities.
In handwriting, a stroke is a stroke wherever you find it; that also relates to whomever you find it. Energy can be seen through the pressure a person exerts in their writing on the page. Heavy, upward cursive often equates a powerful, optimistic form of energy. Lighter, downward strokes might mean a person feels less energy and is emotionally depleted.
When it comes to sound, a person who shows a sense of rhythm can be seen through the consistent spacing between words combined with the slant of the writing. Its apparent to the eye in that the writing seems balanced, well-spaced, and has a sense of paced movement.
TG: You have mastered the art of understanding people’s character, through their handwriting. What does a person’s handwriting also say about their Spirit and mental well-being?
JC: Handwriting analysis can help us recognize what we knew deep down to be true about ourselves, but may have forgotten or blocked over time. The upper loops in handwriting above the middle-zone relate to the abstract philosophical imagination or beliefs. The size of the loop will tell you how much imagination is evident. If the loop is very high, we might interpret the stroke as a far-reaching philosophical desire to investigate the unknown.
One indicator of psychological well-being is when the writing is light and slants downward. It may indicate a person is feeling sad, worn-out and enervated. If handwriting shifts upwards to the right, it might be a sign of an optimistic and energized mental outlook.
Handwriting has been shown to boost language acquisition, improve memory recall, aid in the development of hand-eye coordination, and relieve stress. When you write by hand, the act, itself, slows you down, resulting in single-tasking and focused concentration on what you’re doing in the moment and fully present. Handwriting can help boost your self-confidence by bringing self-awareness to your top character strengths in a new way…
Handwriting is brainwriting. The act of writing starts in the brain. It sends a signal down the nervous system to your hand. Your fingers then carry out the directives of the brain. You see your writing paints a picture of what you think. Each stroke you make on the page is correlated to a particular personality trait. Those personality traits can be positively changed. Graphotherapy is a personal transformation tool using handwriting to improve a person’s wellness. It’s a process through which a person consciously changes certain handwritten letter formations to positively impact their communication, and raise their belief to achieve their goals.
When I’ve done graphotherapy sessions with clients, it’s helped them increase their capacity to articulate their thoughts in high-pressured situations.
Jamie also briefly touched on how symbols can be used by a company to further their relationship with both customers and employees.
TG: How do symbols play a role in a company’s development and the care of their employees?
JC: Symbols can show employees that a leader cares by representing the values that the company prioritizes. In the Canadian car dealership, Wheels & Deals, Founder, Jim Gilbert uses the symbol of a teddy bear in the front of his dealership. He’s also known as ‘Canada’s Huggable Car Dealer’ which both visually, and symbolically represents the importance of love and community to this brand.
The Ontario Martial Arts Academy, that my 7-year old son, Koby, attends, has developed a stellar reputation amongst parents for its family-friendly culture of kindness and discipline instilled in its students. It has also seen substantial growth, as a local business since it first opened around the corner from our home eight years ago. When you walk into the academy, you see a series of red flags draped with meticulous pride along the roof of the studio. The red flags have Korean script along with a series of value-intentions printed on them. At the end of each class, the students recite together the statements on the flags such as: I will be faithful. I will be disciplined. I will be appreciative.
One activity I have people do, who want to project more outward confidence, is to write their signature larger. Your signature is your authority in the world. A larger, bolder signature equates with the physical realization of a more outwardly confident persona.
This article has been condensed from the original version published by Thrive Global.
Referred to by some as the “personality x-ray machine”, Jamie Mason Cohen is a certified grapho-therapist and leadership strategist whose TEDx talk on how to spot a leader through their handwriting has been viewed more than 1.6 million times. His unique and unusual ability to analyze people’s handwriting in less than 60 seconds has been called “impressive and a bit frightening” by Forbes, and as showcasing “the power of a superhero” by TEDx.
Interested in learning more about Jamie and what he can bring to your next event? Email us at [email protected].