Persuasion tip #5: Ethos, Pathos and Logos

Back to Aristotle via the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). It makes sense that if this guy spent his time debating his theories in public and many of those theories went on to be very popular, that he knew something about being persuasive.

Apparently Aristotle identified three main streams of persuasive speech or rhetoric – Ethos, Logos and Pathos.

Ethos is an appeal to the audience on the character of the speaker. Something akin to the appeal to authority we discussed in persuasion tip #4. An example would be the RPI about us page which states that they have been around for 2 centuries  providing education of “undisputed intellectual rigor”. Something tells me that this would have limited effect unless the audience already has some knowledge of the speakers credibility. This post appeals to the authority of Aristotle in order to persuade you that these points are actually facts and are helpful and useful!

Logos is an appeal based on logic or reason. Not something we see much of these days! The more typical public arguments are dressed up as logic or reason but are far from it. For example, Andrew Forrester (major shareholder and creator of Fortescue Metals) has been aggressively lobbying against the mining tax proposed by the labour government on the grounds it will cripple the mining industry. Apparent logic behind his argument is that the increased tax burden will cause a huge dent in private investment. Yet an AFR article has found Forrester hasn’t paid a red cent in corporate tax in the last 16 years.

Pathos is an appeal to emotions and is consistent with Persuasion tip #3 to empathise with your audience. However, appealing to emotion can run much deeper than just getting the audience to like you, it could appeal to your sense of desire, your sense of insecurity or fear, your sense of sympathy and any other emotional triggers you can think of. For example, George Bush II, John Howard and Tony Blair appealed to the their respective citizens fear of weapons of mass destruction and hatred of the Taliban after September 11 in order to obtain approval for the war on Iraq.

Persuasion Tip #3 & #4

Still plundering the Wikihow site for tips, these two pretty much exhausts the most useful tips:

Persuasion tip #3
Empathise and relate to your audience. By making your audience feel like you understand them and are concerned about them they are more likely to listen and possibly trust what you say. Its hard not to like someone who is concerned about you. Follow this up be explaining what you want to achieve in terms they can relate to so they feel like they will achieving something by helping you.

Persuasuion tip #4
Wikihow refers to “six weapons of influence” which were apparently originally defined by Dr Robert Cialdini in his book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.” Or maybe it was his other book: “Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to be Persuasive” written with Dr. Noah Goldstein and Steve J. Martin. I dont know because I haven’t read them and Wikipedia is not clear.

The Six weapons of influence are:
By appealing to authority (name dropping) you can associate your argument with someone the audience may like, trust, admire or respect. By doing this its probable that some of the positive influece will rub off on what your trying to achieve.

Commitment & Consistency.
Apparently once you have obtained a commitment from someone, they are more likely to extend or stretch that commitment to include other obligations than they are to agree to those obligations outright. Kinda scary really. Fries with that anyone?

You scratch my back, i’ll scratch yours. Simple, but not really persuasive, more like bartering. However, it can be used more subtly, like with free marketing samples or by just being plain nice to someone you are going to need something from at some point in the future.

If you make someone either feel sorry for you, or like you, they will probably do something for you. Simple as that.

If something is rare or in limited supply, we typically covet it and value it higher. Therefore if you create a sense that someone will miss out if they don’t agree to what you propose now, its more likely people will become involved. In a game of musical chairs no one wants to be the person still standing when the music stops.

Social proof.
Otherwise known as conformity or peer group pressure. It would seem that people are fundamentally like cattle (sheep in particular). We copy and follow what other people do (I certainly do on the dancefloor!). Therefore, get one person to follow you and it will be a lot easier to get more to follow.

Persuasiveness Tip #2

Hit pay dirt with this one, although it still leaves me feeling kinda dissapointed.

Aristotle noticed that using logic (logos) is perhaps the worst way to persuade someone. Arousing a strong emotional bond to your point of view or fear and doom to the opposing views (pathos) and tying your position to deeply-rooted, commonly-held beliefs (ethos) is the key to success.”

This little gem cam from the folks (besides Aristotle) at:

They have a 9 step program for becomming persuasive that looks worth a shot but I still get the feeling that after it your going to smell and sound like a politician. I’ll keep looking.


I’ve recently started taking more notice of how other people persuade me. I used to think that I was pretty immune to peer group pressure and certainly wasn’t interested in pleasing people for the sake of it or popularity. Self centered is probably a fair description of me most of the time. However, recently I’ve felt that a few people have had some kind of persuasive grip on me, and it has a wierd love/hate feel to it. I want to please these people because I admire them (either for the wrong or right reasons) but then the ingrained skeptic in me politely niggles away at my recently earned satisfaction by pointing out I was just persuaded to do something which had little or no benefit to myself – not even the warm inner glow of philanthropy.

I admire persuasive people. They get stuff done. So, i’m determined to brush up on what makes people persuasive so that:
1. I can be more persuasive and get more stuff done
2. I can tell when someone is trying to be persuasive with me, call them on it and see what happens.

Persuasive Tip #1.

I did some research. The first site I landed on was this one: Its terrible. It really pissed me off because it was like reading a climate deniers handbook on how to deal with hard facts. Don’t listen to anything they say, trust me and wait for Persuasive Tip #2, I’ll find something much better than this site!

Falling upwards

Terribly distracted, a butterfly on the breeze
blown from thought to feeling and,
back again.
Flying forward, flittering and faltering
finding an eddy, calm and peaceful

Its a trap, its a tide or a rip.
An unseen danger, an ice berg
much more than the tip.

Extremely impulsive, a puppy off the lead
following its nose, from certainty to doubt and,
back again.
Running with the scent,
digging up a bone.

Its a prize, its recognition or reward.
An unknown commodity, a risk
much more than you bargained for.

Incredibly terrified, a fish out of water
flipping and flopping from hope to dissapointment and
back again.
Fighting to be free in the sea,
obscure, annonymous, safe.

Its a fight, its winning and losing.
An unknown opponent, ego
much more than you can comprehend.

Absolutely invincible, a teenager haunted by hormones,
chasing a trend, from end to end,
back again.
Ignoring the warning,

Single or alone

Being single really cops a lot of abuse these days. Apparently the only reason someone would want to be single is so they can sleep around. I think being single has a lot more going for it than that.

(Bias alert: I’m single and enjoy it)

  • Being single means you can do what you want, when you want (with one minor exception)

If that means saving boy soldiers from Sudan or watching the football and drinking beer all Saturday, or buying as many shoes as you want or shopping for as long as you want or partying until all hours or studying until all hours – its your choice, totally up to you.

  • being single means being ultimately responsible for the most important thing in your life – you!

If your a slob, its your fault. If your an amazing person, the credits all yours. Any change you make, you can take the credit.

  • being single helps you take more risks and be rewarded for it

As a single person your much more motivated to get out in the world to meet new people and experience new things. You only have to deal with your risk-reward appetite, not your partners.

  • Being single means you can enjoy the moment more

Sadly, most couples are way to engrossed in each other to fully appreciate and enjoy the present moment. At least some portion of their attention will be consumed with thoughts for or about their other half.

  • being single opens your eyes and mind to more opportunities

Single people are more hungry for social interaction and cultural experiences because they do not have a significant other to fall back on for stimulation this gives them a natural advantage in identifying opportunities for unique experiences

  • being single means you can be flexible

Single people only have one social calendar and risk appetite to navigate. They can make decisions faster because they don’t need to consult.

Of course, being in a relationship has a multitude of benefits as well – but that is widely accepted by society. The benefits of being single seem to get trampled on by one huge fear – loneliness. But without the threat of loneliness what would drive single people onto experience after experience? The threat of loneliness is what drives the hunger for social interaction that couples don’t have.

Rythym of Blood

Sweat rolls down my ribs, undulating rapids of bone,
the droplets ripple to the tune of a muscular drum,
pouring out a rythym of blood.

Air catches in my chest, an ivory home
while bile rises in my throat, hairs rise on the dome
my body shakes with the adrenalin rush,
riding on a rythym of blood.

The chase is on and the games begin,
dry lips are licked, rough ‘n’ rice paper thin,
revealing a cheeky grin.

Neurons sparkle and die
Eyes twinkle, I just might fly.
The stomach line twists and twitches,
a muscular drum beats a hymn of blood.

Fingers linger, flesh bumps and shivers,
the mind moves quick and the synapse is lit,
dreams ignite and spread their light.
Savour every moment of it.

Success is changing

Our concept of success is changing to a more sustainable model, finally.

The western world seems to be growing more than a little disenchanted with the pursuit of happyness through material wealth and the security it offers. Happyness, fullfillment and enlightenment (spiritual not religous) have been touted as the replacements. But the movement is not mainstream and I would argue you need to be more than a little enlightened to realise the material wealth dreams you are chasing are as illusive as water in the desert.

Apparently budhists monks are among some of the happiest people in the world (Mindfield, Lone Frank). Their success has been attributed to their dedication to meditation or introspection which helps them rationalise externalities (those things they can do little about right now) and their enhances their ability to empathise and forgive.

Five minutes of introspection has shown me that what I appreciate the most in life and those activities that make me happy are not always those things that I spend most of my time pursuing. They should be. No excuses.