Learn Persuasion For Defense and Success

The world is filled with persuaders. From governments, to bureaucrats, to family, (especially children) friends, and neighbours. You should recognize how they persuade you. Once you know how you can use persuasion better.

Most persuasion is rhetoric. Aristotle formulated the idea of rhetoric, so it’s old. Things that are very old probably work, so you should pay some attention If you understand what people are telling you and the way they are doing it helps you be more organized in your thinking. You make better decisions and you can understand necessary amendments as new information comes available.

Rhetoric has three forms

  1. Ethos is appeal supported by the reputation of the speaker. You might see a famous doctor, or a celebrity endorser. Experts are not always right and you should mistrust them when they are outside their particular specialty. To paraphrase Richard Feynman, an expert thinking outside his specialty is just as dumb as the rest of us. Jerry Seinfeld is a brilliant entertainer, but I doubt he could, based on that alone, convince me to prefer windmills to a fourth generation nuclear reactor.
  2. Logos appeal is based on logic or reason. You will easily find scholarly documents on nearly any subject. The form matters. Just like a doctor in white lab coat is more credible than one in jeans and a sweatshirt, you have built in biases. You should consider what you are seeing in the logos form subject to some caveats. Experts are people and they come with biases. Scientists may know a great deal about something but they communicate through the filter of their biases. If you are reading or seeing a media story about what a scientist told a reporter you are seeing the reporters interpretation of the scientist’s interpretation of science. Not always close to the same thing. You may need several sources to get a clear idea. Learn the difference between facts and opinion and be able to tell when people stray.
  3. Pathos is appeal to emotion. It generally appeals to simple emotions. Fear, greed, pride, and envy being some common ones. It is found in advertising because emotion is the precursor to action. If you are noticing a presentation and you find yourself becoming emotional, you may choose to stop and consider whether or not the appeal is valid. Emotions are much easier to get to than rational thought so much persuasion is based on those ideas. Do you know what the idea of sober second thought means?

In our world

Rhetoric plays out before our eyes dozens of times a day.

People respond to labels and we belong to teams or tribes. Those motivators are generally in the pathos and ethos genres. Very little logic is required to be a “fan.” No one becomes a “fan” using logic. It is nearly always ethos and pathos.

Logos is much more difficult and requires the active involvement of both the presenter and the person being persuaded. Trade information and reach common ground that has more validity than either position had prior.

I have not been involved in debates since high school, but one thing I know is if you can get your opponent emotional, you win. It is fascinating to watch students at universities becoming emotional to express their position regarding a new policy, a guest speaker, or the absence of kale in the cafeteria. Does anyone take them seriously? Their presentation nearly requires that it be ignored. Even attacked. I am reminded of a thought from Margaret Thatcher, “First you win the argument, then you win the vote.” Emotion, while exciting, is not capable of winning an argument or persuading anyone.

Excess emotion is counterproductive

People stop paying attention to emotional people very early on. It is too trying to keep up and usually the purpose is lost in the display. That has a downside for the persuader.

Attention matters. You cannot influence anyone who does not pay attention to you. More complete presentations have a hope of persuading.

What is a good presentation.

It depends on who you want to persuade.

Presenting well becomes the way to connect to the person and address their emotional concerns using reason and options within that framework. Your reputation may have gotten you the opportunity, but once there, reputation alone will not improve performance and outcome.

Understand their vision, their priorities, and their hopes, fears, and expectations. Know the product and technique offerings. That may take considerable effort on your part. You may need to address contradictions within what the person believes, and there are often voids where they have missed important aspects.

Once prepared, your tools or methods can fit based on a single presentation technique.

The multi-connection.

Presentation is easy if you have done your homework. It goes roughly like this.

Given what you have told me about your concerns and hopes, (pathos) there are two reasonable ways to proceed. (logos) Both products are offered by large, financially sound companies, (ethos). Based on your resources and priorities (pathos) I recommend (ethos) we go with option 2. I know that is something you do not normally thinking about, so I would be happy to deal with any questions you may have. (logos and pathos and ethos)

It works because you can convince yourself that if you were in their situation, this is what you would do. The presentation helps them to see the fit with what they already know or have learned during your preparation.

Well-informed, emotionally comfortable people make decisions. They make better decisions. They know when a change is needed. They accept responsibility for outcomes. They are durable clients.

Why it matters

  1. Persuasion is a learnable skill and it is based on 2500 years of experience. Learn it.
  2. Without persuasion no one advances their position.
  3. Honest persuasion expands the person’s expertise.
  4. Learn to recognize the form of the presentation and then decide what credibility to apply to it.

Consider the Rolling Stones song “Satisfaction”

“When I’m drivin’ in my car, and the man come on the radio
He’s tellin’ me more and more about some useless information
Supposed to fire my imagination”

….

“When I’m watchin’ my TV and a man comes on and tells me
How white my shirts can be
But, he can’t be a man ’cause he doesn’t smoke
The same cigarettes as me”

The Stones seem to be persuasion aware. You should be too.


I help people have more income and larger, more liquid estates.

Call or email don@moneyfyi.com in Canada 705-927-4770

One Comment on “Learn Persuasion For Defense and Success

  1. Pingback: Learn Persuasion For Defense and Success – TRIBAL TECHNOLOGIES

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