Robert Phipps - Body Language Expert

Testimonials from clients

Hi Robert Ben didn't talk much on the journey home but he said he thought you were 'OK and that he was pleased to have been to see you. He was intrigued by the hypnosis and his inability to move his hand from his leg. He has kept up with the eft technique since he has been at his Dad's, he is due to come camping with me next week so we shall see how things go. From Ben's tone of voice and general demeanour it was obviously more beneficial than other counselling he has had. Many thanks for seeing us and I will update you with his progress. Kind regards Amanda


Recommnded Books

Interpreting Japanese Body Language PDF Print E-mail
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Interpreting Japanese Body Language

Cultural Differences
Even in the current era of global satellite television, the information superhighway and mobile facetime there are many differences is physical expression between most cultures which are bound by the development of people within that culture and do not transfer across electronic media at any level. Certain phrases, gestures and nuances in behaviour may be picked up in the ether but unless you are physically present within another culture the body language and physical expression of that people is invisible. Whether it is a simple gesture of greeting or a complex credit transfer arrangement wherever you are the body language that surrounds the communication is likely to vary greatly.

A Simple Head Shake
For instance People in India shake their head gently from side to side when in agreement, whereas this gesture means completely the opposite in most parts of the US. In Caribbean culture it is regarded as offensive for a child to look their elder in the eye when they are being chastised whereas in western culture children are required to ‘look at me when I am talking to you’ by the elder in this situation.

General Japanese Body Language
Within Japanese culture interpreting body language and physical expression is very important part of forming the correct lines of communication. As with everything Japanese, physical expression by all is generally restrained and very well measured. Body language here, when used is demonstrable and even the simplest of expressions can have a resounding and serious significance.

Where to sit
Seating position is generally organized in terms of rank and importance. Within any room there will be an individual who is considered to have the seat of honour, for instance the man of the house in a general domestic environment. For all others within the room they must establish their importance relative to this person and organize themselves accordingly. As a general point of etiquette permission is required before taking a seat and also before leaving the room.

What are the limbs saying
As with all cultures arms and legs can be used for a wide variety of expression and there are some connotations from what may seem even the simplest of stances. The meaning of folded arms can be changed dramatically with how this is done in conjunction with the eyes. Folded arms with lowered eyes suggests deep thought, folded arms whilst making eye contact indicates disagreement or defiance. Generally speaking if arms are shaped in a circle this suggests agreement but arms or even fingers are arranged in a cross this will be a sign of negativity.

Legs too and in particular those appendages, the feet, can be used to emit a whole host of signals, many of which are generally rude or negative. It is advisable to take great care with how you position your legs and what you do with your feet if in company within Japanese culture. Sitting with spread legs is considered arrogant and rude. It may be used to indicate confidence and superiority and is not always a terrible thing depending on the situation to which it is applied, but generally speaking a demure sitting position with knees together and feet tucked under is appropriate.

As in many cultures for Japanese the feet are considered dirty and it is commonplace to remove shoes. Be careful how this is done as showing someone the soles of your feet is an affront and should be avoided at all costs. You should never use your foot to point as this is considered highly condescending, as is pointing using a finger. An outstretched hand or arm or a nod is a preferred form of indication.

As part of Japanese culture bowing is an art form and can take all manner of meanings. It is advisable if you are to be in Japanese company that you have some lessons in the various sorts of situations and the bow that is required in each case. Generally speaking the bow, known as Ojigi, is done from the waist. The lower the bow the greater the reverence that is indicated by it. A slight nod may be used when in casual circumstances, like saying hello or goodbye. In some cases Japanese will bow even though it is not required as in during a telephone conversation.

General tips
Never blow your nose in public, this is considered very bad manners. If you receive a business card always hold it with both hands. On introduction do not offer a handshake, bow as deeply as the situation requires.

Showing Confidence and Assertiveness using Your Arms PDF Print E-mail
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Showing Confidence and Assertiveness using Your Arms

Akimbo is a position of the body in which the hands are on resting on the hips and the elbows are bowed outward, or bent or bowed in a more general sense.  It’s a position often used by models on a catwalk and  actresses on the red carpet.

Models and actresses do this, and are often trained to do this, because the posture brings attention to the body.  The position also exudes a natural confidence.  However, off of the catwalk and red carpet, those who stand in this way may unconsciously or consciously communicate another meaning.  This subtext that accompanies this stance is one of assertiveness, dominance, and impatience.

The Origins of Akimbo

If you think it’s a funny-sounding word, well, it is. Etymologists aren’t sure of its origin (African languages have been suggested), but many believe that akimbo is derived from the word kenebowe, which is of unknown origin, and is perhaps related to the Middle English phrase in keen bow, meaning ‘at a sharp angle’.  The word may also be akin to Icelandic kengboginn, or ‘bow bent’.

Many are fascinated by the word as well as the position, and it has been depicted often by sculptors and artists such as Rembrandt, whose ‘Portrait of a Man with Arms Akimbo’ is considered one of the Dutchman’s great masterpieces.  Through the centuries, authors have likewise used it as a literary device for describing a certain character.  For example, Anne Brontë wrote in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall: “Mr Hattersley strode up to the fire, and interposing his height and breadth between us and it, stood with arms akimbo, expanding his chest, and gazing round him as if the house and all its appurtenances and contents were his own undisputed possessions”.

Using Akimbo in your Daily Life

So, can awareness of this non-verbal signal affect how you communicate with others in your own life?  Let’s look at some examples.


Parents sometimes stand arms akimbo when they are scolding their children for misbehaving. Think of when your own mother came into your bedroom and told you to behave.  For parents, the position is a dominating stance and can also be considered a territorial display, i.e. “my house, my rules”.  Couples who use this stance when having a discussion with each other may find that their body language makes their partner feel attacked and become defensive, no matter what words are used. Their discussion may quickly become an argument.


For people who do not know each other well, it may be interpreted as a symbol of dominance.  Say a man and a woman go out on a blind date.  As they stand at the bar, the woman stands with her hands on her hips and looks around the room.  The man, who is chatting away about his volunteering with a local drug abuse treatment program and seems a genuinely nice guy, recognizes the move as an assertion of independence, However, since it also purports a measure of condescension, he man feels she is either displeased with him or with the bar he has brought her to.  Either way, this date has probably started off on the wrong foot.


Athletes do it on the playing field, suggesting that they want to dominate their opponents.  But in business those who use this stance appear dominating and demanding.  For those who want to establish a hold on their office, this can be a good thing.  For women, who want to establish themselves as confident and powerful, this body language can be quite useful. One of our best fictitious examples of this is the character of Joan Holloway on the popular series Mad Men.  Set in the 1960s, Joan is the head secretary of an office full of sexist, egotistical ad managers.  But Joan manages them all with her brand of efficiency and sassiness.  Actress Christina Hendricks, who plays Joan, is usually either holding a file, a cigarette, or standing arms akimbo.

However, variables such as smile and hand position make an incredible change to this stance. For confidence to come through, rather than dominance, point the thumbs forward, resting the fingers on the back of the body. This will give you a more relaxed appearance, and project open-mindedness.  You’ll use this stance effectively to establish your own confidence and no-nonsense attitude, and keep it tame by simply altering it with a smile and an alternative hand position.  Practice it and get in the habit now, so that the next time you’re on the red carpet, you’ll be ready to release your inner diva.

Body Language in Sales, Management and Leadership PDF Print E-mail
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Body Language in Sales, Management and Leadership

I was in sales and management for some 20 years and did literally dozens of different sales courses, managements courses, leadership courses and they all had one thing in common, they dedicated a little bit to the subject of body language.

When I say they little did a bit, I do mean a little bit, there was never enough!

Whether it was a one day course or week long we’d rarely spend more 20-60 mins on the Non Verbal Communication aspects of these roles.

20-40 minutes, are you kidding me?

If you ever been on one of the above courses how much time did you spend on the body language of those roles?

And I can say without any hesitation that every single course I went on threw up on flip charts, projectors and white boards, the age old figures supposedly by Albert H Mehrabian, on how much we communicate through the three different areas.

Those figures are 7% of the message is conveyed through the words, 38% is down to the tonality in the delivery of your chosen words leaving 55%, which is put down to body language.

How many of you have seen those figures quoted on a course, in a book or advert, etc.

They’ve become ingrained in communication mythology.

I say mythology because they are not actually true according in the sense that they have come to be known, watch this short video.

OK so those particular figures aren’t the be all and end all but most studies seem to agree that between 50-70% of communication is Non Verbal.

When in my opinion it is between 30-100%

You can give just a nod or a wink to someone and they have 100% of your message, no words no tone of voice just a nod or a wink and they understand.

But how much time do most of the courses give it?

Not enough full that’s for sure.

The truth is if you are in sales, management or a leadership role you NEED to understand the Non Verbal messages you are being sent all the time by your clients and staff for the simple reason that understanding more about them, their moods and attitudes makes for a more positive working environment, which leads to more rapport between people, departments and companies.

This ultimately produces more profit for the organisation, cuts costs in terms of sickness absence as well as general overhead costs because staff and clients will then cooperate more and go that extra mile.


Well we’ve all come across the express “People Buy People” and every business is ultimately selling something, so it makes sense does it not, to have staff who can sell themselves in whatever their role?

This is the true power of understanding body language in sales, management and leadership roles. If you are in any of them then your job is to produce profit for your Company and the Shareholders.

The smoother your operation is the more likely you are to be able to achieve targets and even excel them.

Get some training and don’t stop with just by getting yourself trained, train your staff so they also understand what’s truly going on in your business. This improves communication between individual, departments and management chains.

You only have to keep up with the Business magazines to read piece after piece where the top executives in some of the world’s biggest companies are realising just how important the topic is and are changing the way they do business.

I’m signed up to Google Alerts, (I thoroughly recommend this function) where I choose Keywords and Google very kindly sends me an email every time they come up in stories, research papers etc.

I’ve been using this service for a few years now and over the last year or so the amount of mentions of body language has gone through the roof with regular pieces in Forbes, Washington Post, The Times & Financial Times, Telegraph, Guardian and many, many more.

So do yourself and your company a favour invest in some training, get a trainer who specialises not one that just happens to have a Module or two on body language in their portfolio of courses.

When you consider that human beings have more than 500,000 documented eye signals, facial expressions, hand and arm movements, body postures that carry a meaning it’s worth knowing more than you know now.

If you can’t get your company to bring in specialist trainers then take a look at the sample of my new book – Body Language: It’s What You Don’t Say That Matters.

Amazon UK -

Amazon US -

It doesn’t launch in the shops in the US till March but Amazon have copies now. These are the “Reviews” from Amazon UK

There’s also plenty of other books on the topic and loads of videos on Youtube.

Try to just take in a little bit at a time and change small things in your daily life, observe how they change things for the better or worse and learn what works for you.

If you really want some of the best training in the world on this fascinating subject contact me directly.

You can also follow me on:

Twitter @robertphipps

Facebook Body Language, Hypnosis and NLP Page

Debunking the communications myth of misquoted figures PDF Print E-mail
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A short video on the often misquoted figures by Albert H Mehrabian on the importance of body language in our overall communications with other human beings.

These figures refer more to the emotional content, attitudes, feelings, when the words and body language doesn't match we tend to believe the body more often than the words.

Great little video so simple but puts it into perspective.

Don't get me wrong body language is still extremely important because if 55% of a persons attitudes, feelings and emoitonal states are being exhibited through their body signals then it still means you're understanding them much more than if you justlisten to the words.

Think about talking in an email, just words no sounds, no emotional content.

Then think about on the telephone you still gets the words but you also hear the person's tone fo voice.

Now think about interacting face to face, you get the words in their tone of voice and you see the facial expressions, hand movements, posture and everything else.

Which gives you a clearer idea of how someone feels about anything?

Chances are you've answered the last one, if so then it would indicate that face to face, body language accounts for more than words alone or words with tone of voice but only when you have all three mediums.


Micro Expression Free Test PDF Print E-mail
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Body Language - Micro Expressions Training:

  • Gain the upper hand in negotiations
  • Detect up to 80% of the 4 to 200 lies you hear every day
  • Build happier and more authentic relationships
  • How good are you today in spotting Micro Expressions?
  • Discover the truth in 2 minutes:


Test yourself, it's FREE, how well do you recognise micro expressions

Click the share buttons and let your friends take the test too.


Reading Body Language in the Office Setting PDF Print E-mail
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Reading Body Language in the Office Setting

Guest Post: Ella Davidson of couponing website, Coupons, has provided this post. strives to provide the most authoritative couponing information available on the Internet.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you had insight to what your co-workers really think simply by reading their body language? You have probably already figured out some of the obvious things a person does such as the rolling of the eyes or the firm hand shake, but wouldn’t you like to know what your boss really thinks of your ideas or if your co-workers are really team players or just out for themselves. The good news is you can learn to understand what people really think by learning how to read body language and what common actions really mean.

People are trained animals who have developed habits over the years that they cannot break. These actions speak louder than most words and most people are not aware that they are even betraying the words that they speak. This can work to your advantage if you know how to evaluate the behavior.

Tips for Reading Body Language

Paying attention to specific actions that a person takes can help give insight into their feelings. Each body part has telltale signs that will clue you in.

  • Eyes - This is probably the most important clue of all. Remember the old saying “if a man cannot look you in the eyes he has something to hide.” This still holds true today a co-worker who maintains eye contact during a conversation with you is expressing interest whereas a co-worker who looks down or away is either ashamed of his words or just plain being dishonest.
  • Hands – In addition to the firm handshake that we have come to know as a sign of confidence, there are many other telltale signs of body language released through the hands. For example, some people tap like crazy which is usually a sign of anxiousness. Others hold their hands together rubbing together or tapping together, this is a person who wants to express dominance. If a person places their hands to form a steeple they feel that they are in charge and want you to know it. While others can place one hand on top of the other as a demonstration of reassurance and comfort to them.
  • Posture - A person who displays a tall shoulder, puffing their chest out is showing dominance and confidence. Whereas a person who begins to slouch while you are talking to them may be questioning what they have heard.
  • Standing at attention - A person who places their hands firmly on their hips is full of aggression. Yet a person with their hands placed behind them commands attention. This act can also mean that a person is frustrated or angry.
  • Stroking - A person who strokes their cheeks or chin is usually in deep thought and may not want to be disturbed at the moment.
  • Yawning - Can certainly mean that someone is just plain tired, but in the work environment it more than likely means that a person is bored with the conversation or the task that they are currently working on.
  • Looking Away - When a person rubs their eyes and turns away it means that they are in disbelief with the conversation.
  • Rubbing the nose – Rubbing of the nose is usually looked upon as a negative reaction. Someone who is constantly either rubbing their nose or touching it is displaying doubt, rejection or is lying.
  • Hand crossed over chest -This person is in defense mode. This type body language should not be provoked but rather recognized. It may be time for a calm discussion over coffee or tea.
  • Fidgeting - A person who cannot sit still may be an anxious person or someone who has something on his mind. If this happens during a meeting it may very well mean that this person thinks that he has more important things to do.
  • Playing with hair - A person who is constantly holding their hair and rolling it is displaying feelings of insecurity and doubt. This person is generally shy around others and has low self-esteem.

There are many other actions that take place but these are a list of the actions that are most often seen in the office. Understanding what a person is really thinking can help you to tune into their feelings and avoid difficult situations. While their actions may not always be true to form, over time you will begin to recognize when it is okay to approach someone or to simply leave them alone.

Read a sample of my new book, which is all about business body language - It's What You Don't Say That Matters  CLICK HERE



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