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September 6, 2017

How Aristotle Invented Influence Training

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While we may think the basics of public speaking starting recently, it was actually 2,300 years ago that Aristotle recorded his theory on effective public speaking. He espoused the importance of ethos (credibility), pathos (emotion), and logos (logic) to influence behavior. His principles are still the key foundation for negotiations training. Here’s how Aristotle’s tenets have shaped the art of argument and influence in business today.

Ethos – The Speaker’s Character

To persuade anyone of anything, you must appear credible. Regardless of what you wear, how solid your company is, or even how your reputation may precede you, if your listener has reason to question your credibility, your negotiations will suffer. Aristotle says a credible speaker conveys three qualities:

  • Competence – The knowledge and ability to do what you say you can do.
  • Good Intention – You intend to do good for your listener.
  • Empathy – The listener feels as if you have been in their shoes.

Ethos is both articulated and nonverbal. Your demeanor, body language, and tone all play a role in your perceived credibility. It’s about your audience’s perception of you and your ability to control that perception. To improve ethos, develop expertise in the subject you’re going to be speaking about. Learning more and growing more comfortable in the subject matter will allow you to speak confidently and convey knowledgeable insight.

Pathos – The Speaker’s Emotional Influence

If your goal is to persuade, you must make an emotional connection. Aristotle said if people feel anger, the speaker should discover with whom they are angry and why. The first step in doing this is to have a basic knowledge of your audience. What are their values and beliefs? Use techniques that appeal to their emotions and offer something they desire.

Choose presentation techniques with which your audience can identify. Use humor to get them laughing with you. Tell a story to draw them in and help them make personal connections. Use words that are charged with the emotion you seek to convey. Offer carefully chosen visuals so your audience sees what you have seen.

Logos – The Speaker’s Appeal to Reason

Only after you have established credibility and made an emotional connection, should you proceed with your logical statement. This step is as important as the other two, but, without ethos and pathos, logos will fail.

Evaluate your message to be sure it makes sense. Use plain language that everyone in your audience can understand. Repeat key ideas so they stand out. Present facts, statistics, and evidence to back up what you’re saying. Give your audience a clear call to action so they know what to do with what they’ve experienced.

Keep ethos, pathos, and logos in your mind the next time you come to the negotiation table.

 

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