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Persuade me: Ethos, Logos and Pathos in action

Updated: Nov 8, 2022

The lost art of discourse and persuasion, how to make someone see your point of view.

Politicians talk and people believe them. For them it is easy, they are supposed to know what they are talking about. If you have not realized it yet, they really don't. They just pretend they do and make you believe they have your back. But at least they have (by default) the first required element to be persuasive: "Ethos" or character. What that means in this case is that we want to believe that they should have some credibility since they are popular and have a following. It is almost backwards reasoning, however, since track record should establish credibility and character and sadly, a politician's track record is what will show you that indeed they should not have any credibility and that there is not much character either...

Our ability to truly communicate with one another is being lost. What was taught at schools in debate, logic or language arts class is no longer. Interestingly, communication and language is one of the central attributes humans possess and yet we do not cultivate it, even neglect it. Without communication and social skills, we cannot have relationships and without relationships life is pretty dull and meaningless. In addition, the complex machinery of our social and economic web would cease working if it was not for relationships and our ability to get our point accross. Would you believe that the power of persuasion has been recognized for thousands of years as one of the keys to happiness? Indeed, it was noted to be so important that politicians in the early democracies of Greece did not want Aristotle to publish and teach persuasion and rhetoric to the this knowledge would provide them with too much power.

But lets focus on you and how you can persuade me: tell me something relevant about what you have done, related to the area you want me to believe in or change my opinion to. So, tell me your dedication and investment in getting to know the specific subject and your experience in such or related matter.

As humans, we are hardwired to search for reasons to trust another person, and we do so quickly. After all, our ancestors had an instant to determine whether a stranger was friend or foe. A simple reminder that you are committed to the welfare of others will build your credibility before you lay out your argument. (X)

So now you have my attention. You appear to be a stand up guy or gal:)

Next, I need you to tell me good reasons, reasons that make sense for me to adopt your point of view. This is also referred to as "logos." Does your position make sense financially, from a social point of view, logistically, perhaps in the long run? Do your homework and show me. Show me data and statistics.

But reason does not win an argument alone....Arguably the most important aspect of persuasion is your ability to appeal to the audience on an emotional level. This is called "pathos." Even better if you are able to argue your point by inserting a story or metaphor. Storytelling where you or someone known to you are the protagonists is extremelly effective in evoking emotion (X) Tell me a story about your experience and how you are a changed person.

Metaphors are extremely effective in getting a point across, they provide a concrete well-understood example to stand for something abstract and more difficult to relate to or understand.

Lastly, try to be relatively brief. Start with your most compelling point, as the brain can only stay focused for short periods of time.

I think you are ready to take a leap of faith and try to persuade someone else.  

Get your Z Form: it will provide you with a head start in establishing credibility in addition to giving the other person a sense that you really do mean business. It will provide you with time (as the other party decides to agree to meet) to organize your thoughts and time to think about a personal experience or metaphor that may appeal to the other party's emotional self. At the end of your interaction, nothing is lost, only misunderstandings and fear. Take a chance and practice persuasion, thank Z Form later.

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