Saturday, July 30, 2016

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3640: Khizr Khan’s DNC Speech, Donald Trump & Body Language (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

In many hearts and minds, it was the most moving moment of either convention. With his wife by his side, Khizr Khan gave an extremely heartfelt speech regarding their son, Humayun Khan, who was a captain in the United State Army - and who, on 8 June 2004, sacrificed his own life to save his fellow soldiers.

This is a partial nonverbal analysis of Khizr Khan's of speech.

One thing you may notice, is that Mr. Khan very frequently rose up on his toes. This dynamic is but one example of a multitude of body language signals termed "Illustrators". An illustrator serves to punctuate, emphasize, underline, etc., the spoken words, vocal qualities (paralanguage) as well as other simultaneous (or nearly so) nonverbal signals. In this context, rising up on his toes (although we could not see his feet, this is very evident) gives the effect of an exclamation point. Please watch this speech to more fully appreciate this "up on toes" body language.

Mr. Khan also pointed with his (right) index finger (forefinger) repeatedly. While the vast majority of times this illustrator should never be used, there were many exceptions in this speech. Why? Because Khizr Khan lost his son defending America and he was, in effect, talking to Trump much of the time. He was taking Trump to task - and taking Trump to school - teaching him the United States Constitution and its very real ramifications.

Several times Mr. Khan places his hand over his heart. It's profoundly important to recognize the detail of his palm making full contact with his chest. This is know as "palmar contact" - and it's a nonverbal signal indicative of high sincerity.

Often time people with stop short and do not touch their chest. Other times just the finger tips (and NOT the palm) will touch. Sometimes people use their non-dominant hand (Mr. Khan indeed used his right and dominant hand). And intriguingly, there are even times when people will gesture to the left side of the chest (where, there IS NO HEART). These variations (which are not seen here) are examples are signals of insincerity. Mr. Khan's full palmar touch is very sincere and "heartfelt".

The highlight of Mr. Khan's entire speech was when he said, "Donald Trump, you're asking Americans to trust you with their future.  Let me ask you: have you even read the United States constitution? [he pulls it out] I will, I will gladly lend you my copy. In this document, look for the words 'liberty' and 'equal protection of law' ..."

Khizr Khan did many things right in this moment. First produced a physical copy of the US Constitution. This moment would still have had a strong effect if he had not done so, but pulling it out of his pocket was such a powerful nonverbal metaphor for freedom and the United States - that this act cannot be overstated.

He also lifted it high (over his head) with his dominant hand and waving it - offering to lend it to Donald Trump. These maneuvers served to further potentiate the presence of constitution, the country, the election and the power of this moment. Mr. Khan choreographed the exact second of the constitutional display nearly perfectly (however, one could make the argument that saving this for the very end of his speech would have been even more powerful).

No one knows what the next 101 days will hold, but if Donald Trump loses, many will point to the moment Khizr Khan took the Constitution from his pocket as the tipping point.

On Thursday Humayun Khan, a citizen of the United States and U.S. Army captain, cast his vote.

See also:

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3639: Donald Trump regarding DNC - "I wanted to hit a couple of those speakers so hard"

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3621: Bernie Sanders Endorses Hillary Clinton

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3614: Daniel Radcliffe, Imperium and a Subtle Body Language Tell

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3605: John Kennedy, Hands on Podium

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3587: The Orlando Mass Shooting, Omar Mateen and Warning Signs

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3552: Hillary Clinton, Body Language and variations on the Pistol Steeple

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3389: Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama meet in Paris - Body Language Faux Pas

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2863: Gary Oldman's Apology on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" - Sincere or Insincere? - Body Language Tells 

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2135: Ronald Reagan in Nashua, New Hampshire "I'm Paying for this Microphone Mr. Green!"