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Blog - Standing the test of time

Standing the test of time

Aristotle and Rhetoric 

I clearly remember when I became aware of Ethos, Pathos and Logos.  It was while co-delivering a two day module on a Leadership Development Programme.  The module was titled ‘Managing the Business’ and my colleague (Catrina) and I were covering a wide range of related subjects. 

The specific session related to Stakeholder Management.  We had completed a simple influencing exercise and were facilitating a discussion on the different strategies people used to complete the task.  Catrina used Ethos, Pathos and Logos to structure and theme the outputs of the discussion. 

You know that moment when something immediately makes sense?  As a trainer it was brilliant - simple, memorable, multi-functional and with a great story. 

It was the Greek philosopher Aristotle (384 – 322 B.C.) who developed the theory of Rhetoric ( http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aristotle-rhetoric/).  Rhetoric, says Aristotle, ‘is the power to see, in each case, the possible ways to persuade’.  He recognizes that different contexts require different techniques and that the speaker has three main avenues of persuasion Ethos, Pathos and Logos. 

Ethos:  the source's credibility, the speaker's/author's authority. 

Logos:  the logic used to support a claim; can also be the facts and statistics used to help support the argument/plan. 

Pathos:  the emotional or motivational appeals; vivid language, emotional language and numerous sensory details. 

I have since come across these principles applied to leadership and leadership styles, presentation skills, writing skills, influencing, persuading and negotiation skills. 

For me, there must be something in a theory that has survived for over 2000 years. 

 






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