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Change your signature, change your life

February 13, 2008

Ever wonder how much your handwriting says about you? Sure, you've heard about handwriting analysis and how the way you write a particular alphabet or sign your name can say a lot about your personality, but did you know that changing the way you write can improve your career or help you get over your inhibitions?

Sounds improbable but Chandraprabha Pupala helps people do exactly that. A trained graphologist and graphotherapist, Chandraprabha has been training people to improve themselves by improving their handwriting for the last five years.

In a telephone interview with's Shifra Menezes, she talks about the relatively unknown field of handwriting analysis and how she stumbled on to this unusual career choice.

Graphology is an unusual choice for a career. What initially got you interested in it?
Honestly, as a child I was very curious about why people behave the way they do. So I would observe them and study them but I never found any interesting way to know more about what made them tick. That's why I decided to become a psychiatrist.

So I took the medical entrance exams, and got into homeopathy. There was no scope to get into an MBBS course as per my score. I finally got tired of the whole process and took a one-year break.

It was then that I came across this book on graphology. As I learnt more about it, it was so interesting. In fact, my handwriting indicated that I would not have made that great a doctor.

It can be that specific?
I can be. The specific traits required by a doctor, say memory association needs to be stronger while creative association is much less compared to say an architect.

So I dropped the idea of becoming a doctor and decided to do a degree in management and I studied for the international certificate in handwriting analysis from the US, which I completed in 2003.

How did you get started professionally?
By the time I completed my course I had started reading quite a bit about it. There were people on whom I practiced my skills and I kept experimenting. A college friend of mine, Hitesh Jirawla (he is now my business partner), kept pushing me to try it professionally. At that I point I wasn't very confident about the acceptance of the whole concept.

I remember the first time -- we decided to approach one of the country's leading coffee shops. So we went and met people there but the response was very disappointing. They were pretty resistant to the idea and said that if at all we wanted to do it, we couldn't charge anything.

So that was disappointing, there was no real acceptance for this kind of work.

After that we did some more research how to approach people with our idea and I gathered the courage to approach Cafe Coffee Day [Images]. There we got a nice response. They introduced this process in their HR procedures, for recruiting area managers and higher-level personnel.

After some time, I started working with the outlets as part of their marketing activities where I would sit at various outlets across Mumbai [Images] and analyse the handwriting of their customers where they could get a coffee for free.

Tell us a bit about graphology and what you do.
I have noticed that many people do know quite a bit about handwriting analysis, but that's not all there is to it. You also need to understand behavioural patterns, how a person reacts, what are their defence mechanisms.

When we label a particular trait, saying the handwriting indicated it, most of the time people refuse to accept it -- they get offended, or they have their inhibitions about revealing their weaknesses. So the process has to be handled as a counselor, which is the most important thing.

We are working on spreading awareness and we want people to get into this particular stream.

We also follow up on the people we work with, to measure efficacy and also, this kind of business will not survive without case studies and actual proof that it works.

We say your public image is your signature. In the corporate world, the biggest challenge people face is portraying one's talent. The biggest gap is between what you are and what you want to project to the world.

We don't realise that we might just be portraying a negative aspect or an unhealthy aspect of ourselves. This then becomes a habit. Most people reflect different personalities with different groups of people, this is because somewhere along the line one is projecting oneself on a wrong frequency. By changing the signature or designing one's signature we attempt to align what you are and what you want to project to the rest of the world.

There are a lot of people who use standardised signatures, which I find a little funny. Everybody has their own ambition or life patterns and what works of one person will not work for another.

What people must understand is that it is not about having a simpler life but about helping you achieve your true potential. The compatibility between what you are and what you want to be is the most important, which very few people actually get.

How accurate is graphotherapy in addressing a person's fears etc?
I believe the accuracy in ascertaining an individual's personality from their handwriting has an accuracy of 90-95 per cent.

Tell us about your company.
Chandraprabha wasn't a formal company until two years back. Up until then we were just freelancing, and the tie-up with Cafe Coffee Day was on for about a year or so. At that point we hadn't even thought of making a company out of it because there was a lot of resistance and questions about the whole thing.

After we completed the course, Hitesh and I decided that we would take up working on the therapy aspect of graphology. At that point there was nobody in India who addressed this aspect professionally. The concept was usually confused with other concepts. People usually undertake teaching and training at times but those are not that specific.

The application on graphology and graphotherapy has huge scope, so we decided to explore this route.

What were the challenges you faced?
Firstly, people were not really aware of how graphology works and didn't really believe that it was effective. There was a lot of energy that we had to put in to convince them that it works. That was the biggest challenge.

Right now we don't have any competitors as such, but taking this up as a full-time career has its own risks. When we take the idea to a company, we first have to begin with making them aware of the particular science, then that it does, in fact, work.

Once they are convinced it works, they begin accepting it and the business aspect comes in. This is a long process for anybody.

Do you train people in graphology?
We do train people, but that is a very select work. It's mostly done in the HR projects.

Most of the work happens when people want to transform themselves and their lives. So that includes handwriting analysis and signature design, which means changing handwriting and changing personality which is graphotherapy.

Tell us about your clientele.
There are a lot of people in senior management positions with whom we work -- CEOs and MDs. We also work with individuals who want to transform their lives and there are a number of celebrities as well.

We have worked with Devita Saraf who is director of Zenith Computers [Get Quote] and CEO, VU Technologies, Ruchir Mody, managing director, Torrent [Get Quote] Pharma, Sabira Merchant had got her handwriting analysed a while back.

Over the last five years, we have analysed over 10,000 individuals. However, we still rely highly on word of mouth promotion.

How many people do you have on the team?
I'm the only graphologist on the team. The rest of the team is on the admin side of things. There is a whole module clients need to follow for the therapy to be effective.

It is not a future predictive science at all. Handwriting works on a simple principle, where your brain gives instructions to your hand to write; what we are doing is using your hand to give instructions to your brain.

When you are thinking there is a chemical process happening in your brain, a chemical pathway is formed called a neuropathway. Now every time you write, a neuropathway is created. When you make a change in your handwriting you are actually altering your neuropathway.

The therapy works on exercising your handwriting. We develop a stroke looking at your requirements. It's not that your handwriting will look beautiful after the programme, but it works on addressing a particular fear or weakness.

So, we work on a particular letter or stroke for a minimum of 45 days, and then the hand gives instructions to your brain. That's when it begins to work in a mechanism.

How does one go about establishing a career in this field?
At this point in time in India, firstly one would require all the skills of an entrepreneur to take it up full-time -- a lot of determination, a lot of courage. You have got to be persistent, and push through no matter how tough the going gets.

Another thing that people must understand is that it is not a future predictive science. Once people actually understand that, their interest level tends to just drop. It's more like a psycho-analysis of an individual's personality. 

It is a big responsibility, because you are trying to help people improve themselves. So whether you are reading a book or getting trained by someone, you need to be aware of that responsibility.

Five years down the line, is it still a challenge to convince people?
There is still a lot of resistance to the idea, people still do have reservations. However, I have done a few media events with news channels and radio stations. That has opened people up quite a bit, but there's still a long way to go.

Is there money to be made in such a profession?
The cost of our services ranges anywhere from Rs 5,000 for an individual to Rs 60,000 for corporates. When we started out it was Rs 50 to Rs 100.

Are there courses in graphology in India?
There are many people who claim to offer courses in the subject, but after looking at what they offer and the work they do, I would say that they were nowhere near what a training programme should be.

What are your plans for the future?
We are developing a training course, but right now the main limitation is time. We are focused on the clients and the application side for now. We are doing some training for corporates, but we will come up will a certification programme soon.

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