Category Archives: Body Language

Body language includes non-verbal communication and behaviour, like gestures, gaze, facial expressions, etc.

What Does Your Handshake Say? Learn These Tips

Balanced Counter Shake

Everyone is talking about President Trump’s power handshakes, and today everyone is proud of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for not allowing Trump to bully-handshake him at their White house meeting yesterday.  I was contacted yesterday myself by Maclean’s Magazine for an interview on my thoughts on their non-verbal communication. That short video can be seen here, but be advised the interview was done before the video was made, so my comments do not necessarily match up with the images shown.

Are handshakes such a big deal?  Well, yes, they are.  They show non-verbal communication intentions on dominance, control, balance and openness. They are worthy of a bit of study, and I will give some tips on what to do or not do when shaking hands, particularly at a political or business function.

To start, ‘medium’ is the rule to remember. Walk at a medium pace, speak with medium voice/volume, gesture and shake hands with medium speed. This shows you are calm and in control of yourself.

After a calm approach, you should make sure you are engaged in eye contact and then smile as you extend your hand. Maintain good posture as you approach and extend the hand. Don’t bend at the waist (unless in Asia or with Asian delegates) and don’t over-extend your arm so you appear too eager and/or off-balance. Introduce yourself (e.g. Hello – I’m Ric. Nice to meet you!) and connect hands (not fingers) evenly, palm to palm. Be ‘firm but fair’ to the other people in your networking circles! Never crush a hand and never offer a seemingly ‘broken wrist’ or ‘just-fingers’ weak handshake. Both hands should be level – do not twist the hands to either extreme side, if possible. I am not a fan of twisting someone’s hand so that my palm is up and they have ‘the upper hand’ now, or vice versa. Let’s start off on equal footing, shall we?

Pump your hands 2-4 times, gently and evenly, and repeat the person’s name after they introduce themselves to help you retain that new information if necessary.  There is usually no need for extra tactics, like using your free hand to clasp the hands while shaking (the double) or patting the shoulder of the person you are engaging (the pat-down). In the North American culture these extras are not necessary, but if someone does that to you, it’s almost natural to return the favour, to even the score. Go ahead and do unto others as they do unto you.

Dominant people may want you to enter a room first and will gesture to let you go first, and may even lightly touch/pat your back, as a ‘guide’ through the doorway.  It looks polite (and it technically is) but it also is another example of them ‘steering’ you somewhere and being in control because they can see you the whole time, and you need to ‘trust’ them when they’re behind you.  In evolutionary terms, you never wanted a potential predator or someone you didn’t know/trust to be behind you where you’re vulnerable to blind attack.

Regardless of what is in their mind or their style of greeting, you should always aim for a balanced and equal meet to start the relationship on the right foot. Just don’t be surprised if others have favourite tactics they wish to use on you.  Whether it is at a formal business meeting or at a relaxed social outing, learning how to hand shake with balance and confidence, and learning how to match the other person’s style is all good practice!  Go ahead – put your best hand forward!  🙂


My TED Talk: The Long Life of First Impressions

The importance of interpersonal skills in today’s tech-world cannot be underrated or undervalued, and that’s why I focused my recent TED Talk on them.  Please take a moment to view and learn about “The Long Life of First Impressions” 
If you like it, please ‘like’ it and share to your social networks, or directly on YouTube. Let’s spread the idea!  Much appreciated!

Bitch slap: How do you handle conflict? | In the Key of He

Please click the link below to read the full story on Leah’s blog.

Source: Bitch slap: How do you handle conflict? | In the Key of He

Here is an excerpt:

Conflict management

I shared a radio interview with communications expert, Ric Phillips, of 3V Communications last year and I met with him this week. I always like talking to Ric because his background in social psychology and coaching gives him an interesting perspective.

During our visit, I told him about the intended bitch slap. We discussed what my options could have been, and Ric said that when conflict arises, there are really only four possible choices:

1.  Do nothing – maintain silence and do not react;
2.  Escape the scene or person(s) to avoid further conflict;
3. Change your attitude because you have a minimal chance of changing theirs;
4. Change your behaviour (see #3).”
Please click the link below to read the full story on Leah’s blog.

Source: Bitch slap: How do you handle conflict? | In the Key of He

How to Develop & Deliver an Effective Pitch (with Slides)

Ric at TechSoup Canada 2Recently I gave a short seminar at TechSoup, located in the CSI (Centre for Social Innovation) building here in Toronto. TechSoup had asked me to speak about developing and delivering an effective pitch, with a slide deck. Their target audience is non-profits who want or need to build their technical skills to help improve efficiencies in their organization. The seminar had a small live audience and it was live-streamed as well.

Just as I teach my clients, I broke my talk into three main chunks: pitch structure, slide guide and public speaking & body language tips. I wrote a brief article on my LinkedIn profile going over the key takeaways, so please click this link to see the article, and then like and share (either here or there) if you found it useful.  Thank you.  🙂

And if you desire more info on pitching and presentations, please see my brand new ebook called “3V Podium Power:  Next Level Public Speaking, Presenting, Pitching & PowerPoint Repair!” located on this site here in the ‘store’.

UPDATE:  TechSoup did a great recap of my seminar, and have also included the slide deck I used in case you want to see them (but the 2 videos I used are not included, fyi).  Please click here to see their summary and my slides.  Please share this info here, there, or anywhere.  🙂

Thank you so much!

The Art of Small Talk and Deeper Conversation

My friend and fellow Communication Expert Mark Bowden was recently on the TV show The Social, and revealed some great verbal and non-verbal communication tips for us to use or avoid when in conversation.  Many people have a difficult time with the art of small talk, not only with getting the conversation started, but with keeping it going and making it more meaningful.  This lack of confident communication can affect us both at work and in our social lives.

One of my most popular communication coaching programs (and has been for a number of years) is called “The Art of Small Talk & Winning First Impressions.”  It’s no wonder it’s so popular – small talk is no small matter!  🙂  If this topic interests you and you would like to improve your soft skills, here are some useful links for you to explore.  Enjoy!

Link One – The Art of Conversation on The Social (article and Mark’s TV appearance):

Link Two – Just the video:

Link Three – A little about my interpersonal coaching programs, and how to connect with me to request a brochure and set up a free initial consultation if interested:

Link Four (and more)Effective Communication Skills – Never be Stuck for Words Ever Again! Ebook (epub) by Ric Phillips on iTunes, Nook, Kobo and Lulu (prices vary beyond my control):

PDF Version here

Enjoy your small talk more from now on, and have deeper conversations with more impact.

Books I Read and Recommend for Improving Communications

I love to share information and recommend resources to my friends and clients, and love hearing about books and authors that have made a difference in their life too.  Like many I have an Amazon page that lists the books I use in my coaching and training to help clients and teams improve their skills.  The skills we may focus on include effective interpersonal skills, reading body language, small talk and rapport-building skills, leadership development skills, professional communication strategies, presentations, conflict management, ESL (English as a second language) improvement including grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation, etc.  There are even a couple martial arts books in there too!  🙂   If you’d like to know what books I read and recommend, please check out:

“Ric’s Recommended Communication Skills Training Bookstore”

Happy Reading!

Body Language Tips for the Boardroom

Is it a good thing to centre your hands while speaking?

Hello fellow communicators!

Do you often wonder how you could improve the results of your meetings and presentations in the boardroom?  Do you wish you could read the body language and non-verbal communications of business people across the table from you during negotiations?  Well a global company called FIRMEX believes these are valuable skills to learn and partnered up with “yours truly” to create a couple of no-cost body language videos.  Please watch and enjoy these vital and easy-to-apply tips to modify your non-verbal communication and gestures, as well as become more attuned to others in business.  Body language isn’t everything, but it’s a very large part of effective business communication!  Click the link below to see the video on Firmex’s blog:

I hope you enjoy the tips and more importantly put them to good use immediately!

7 Secrets to Confidence

Are there some hidden secrets to confidence that only the confident, charismatic leaders know and refuse to share with the rest of us?  I doubt it.  If you study the world of confidence, as I do, then I believe you will arrive at similar conclusions as I note below.  Here are a few not-well-kept ‘secrets’ about developing and displaying confidence.  I have chosen to start with these random 7 secrets:

1 – Be calm.  If you want people to listen to you, and follow you, you must show them the way to calmness and security by leading the way yourself.  A confident person has no need to yell, order and argue to convince folks.

2 – Be direct.  Say what you got to say.  Don’t beat around the bush.  You can still say it calmly, and even with friendliness in your voice.  Just make sure there is no confusion.  Be short, sweet and clear.

3 – Have loads of eye contact.  Look them in the eye when you are actively listening to them.  Show respect to gain respect.  Also look them in the eye when attempting to convince them of your opinion or your judgement.  Looking away is not a good way to instill trust. Make a connection by making eye contact – a lot.  Experts say between 70 – 90% in North America.

4 – Your body language should be open and friendly, yet also solid.  We do not want to display threatening, closed or unsure gestures.  We want our body language to be open and engaging so we make sure we have no arms, legs, ankles crossed.  We use gentle but controlled flowing hands, emanating from the ‘truth plane’  – our gut.  We gain a solid vibe by using symmetrical gestures, and having balance in our stance or seated position.  We do not lean awkwardly to one side.  We plant or root our feet to the floor.  A solid base is very important.  Think of yourself like a palm tree – the base is solid but the top flows with the wind and is flexible, so it does not break in a storm.  Be like the palm tree.

5 – Speak with a medium volume voice.  Medium is the rule.  Use medium volume, medium speed, and walk at a medium speed as well.  Match your voice to your pace if walking and talking. Speaking too slowly makes you sound unsure and even boring.  Speaking too fast makes you sound like you are rushing and are not careful or thoughtful.

6 – Be assertive, not aggressive.  Protect yourself and your loved ones, or your team at work.  Stand up for your rights and theirs, but do it in a way that does not undermine your own credibility.  Being assertive means protecting yourself and self-interests.  Being aggressive means bullying to get what you want, regardless of whose best interests it serves.  An aggressive person is always trying to change your mind or force you to do something.  An assertive person is protective and persuasive, yet does not try to force you to agree or change your mind in one sitting. The agendas are different.  The focus of aggressiveness is on the other person, the ‘opponent.’  The focus of assertiveness in on yourself, and your circle.

7 – Trust yourself.  Confidence starts with self-trust.  You must trust your decisions, and your motives behind your actions.  Competence builds confidence, so the more you try, the more you learn, and we all learn mostly through trial and error.  Nothing ventured nothing gained.  Make a decision and go forward.  If you need to revisit it or re-evaluate it later (perhaps based on new data) that’s fine.  A confident person is not blind in their decision-making.  They make the best decision they can, at the time.  They are open-minded enough to consider changes, and if necessary, change course and even apologize.  There is no shame in being wrong.  We all learn from our mistakes.  Part of trusting yourself is also forgiving yourself for being human, and occasionally making mistakes!  🙂

There are more elements to being confident, but for today, these ‘7 secrets’ should get your started in your assessment of yourself and of those around you in leadership positions.