Body language and implicit communications

The king of France is wise. Is this true or false? 



If you say this is false, do you mean that the king of France is not at all wise? Would you dare to assume that? 

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I remember a lecturer at university giving this classical example. Further than that, he usually became so obscure that I found not going to his class and reading good books on pragmatic linguistics was a time saving option. 



Unless you come from a far away country and know nothing about France, the trick is obvious: There is no king of France. The statement can’t be  either true or false, because there is an implicit content that is false, which would be explicitly stated as “There is a king in France” 



Now, imagine that you belong to a group of citizens from a far away country where no one really knows about France, and for some reason you want them to believe that there is a king in France. The example is a little bit farfetched, but it’s neutral so there's no need to enter into talks about current politics or religion.


A sentence like “The king of France is wise” encourages the listener to  believe in the existence of such a king. If someone in the audience feels like challenging you, they might doubt the wisdom of such a statement but not whether the king exists.


This technique is a bit similar to the cunning fox's solution when hunters and hounds pursue it. It crosses the trail of another animal in the hope that the hounds will get tricked into following the other trail. 

Let me give you another example: at the beginning of this speech, I talked about my university teacher and my choice of reading books instead of attending his classes. You may have thought that I was not a very serious student, or maybe you thought I was clever? but maybe I did not go to university at all! I just told you a story to gain credibility. 


Implicit communications have the status of established facts. They are not the agenda, but it is very handy to add such assertions.


Body language and more widely non verbal language, facial expressions and how we use our voice, are all about implicit communications. They give information in particular about you, the messenger. The implicit message that would be better to give would be stated explicitly as “I am worth listening to, I am honest, I am knowledgeable, I have power, what I have to say is of high interest” 



However, sometimes we focus on the explicit content of our message without realizing that our non verbal communications actually say: "I am a little nothing from nowhere. Whatever I might say counts for nothing, sorry to be here I am so ashamed to take advantage of your patience, I’m sorry I’m sorry". 



As speakers, we can learn to express ourselves like messengers worth listening to. An exercise worth trying is to stand up and walk about imagining that we wear a royal cloak. If you prefer any other powerful archetype than monarchs, it’s fine, as long as you imagine yourself in the skin of someone powerful and let your body express it. If this makes us feel uncomfortable, that’s great! because it wakes up the old demons – the implicit belief systems that keep us feeling insignificant.


All the tips and explanations about how to be better at communicating with others won’t dispense us from needing courage at some point. Personally, I find freedom in an essential part of my personality. It is in the child part of myself, the child who loves to play. In my view, being adult doesn’t consist of relinquishing this part in order to become serious. To me, being adult means taking great care of this child part of me. I have found more freedom in playing the king’s fool than the king himself, but at least I have found a way to feel happy in front of audiences who really believe I am funny – because I behave as though I am.