Logos, Pathos, & Ethos
So let's get started with some of the most fun stuff, the easiest to learn. I call it Instant Influence, and just to review here, we're going to start with logos, pathos, ethos, and we're gonna move on from there to people softeners, okay? So first, logos, pathos, and ethos, and if you get nothing else out of this, you get three Greek words you can use to annoy your friends. What are they? They are the two, three basic tools from the ancient art of rhetoric, logic, emotion, character. So the reason why I bring up these Greek words is to get you to think a little bit differently about logic, emotion, and character. Logic, or logos, is not the formal logic that people are taught in schools, and we'll get into that and how it works a little bit differently. In a way, it's easier to use, you should be relieved to know. Emotion has to do with your audience's mood, how you can change it, how you can particularly put people in a mood to be persuaded, and at the same time, maybe make them feel...
better. By the way, the ancient Greeks thought that the tools of mood-changing were actually a kind of drug, and modern neuroscience shows you really can change chemicals in people's brains through sheer rhetoric. Character, on the other hand, really has to do with your projected character. So it's not who you really are, although that's really helpful if you're a wonderful, nice person, to project that is so much easier. You can be a total jerk, and project a nice character using these tools, so, by the way, if you want to challenge me on any of the ethics of this, the ethics are tricky. Rhetoric is a dark art, so I'm here to shine a light on that. But, at the same time, these tools work for nasty people and nasty things. I trust you to do this well and to do it right to make the world a better place, okay? I'm counting on you for this. So your projected character has to do with whether you can get people to like and trust you even if you're unlikeable and untrustworthy. I'm sure that's not true of you guys, so you're gonna have an easier time of this. Think about these three things, logos, pathos and ethos, logic, emotion and character, like kids in a family. That's how I remember it anyways, so you think, like, who's a logical kid? It's the kid who gets the good grades, right, but maybe stays locked up in a room, you know, just studying all the time. The emotional kid is the kid who gets away with everything, right, and cries a lot. That was me as a kid, not to overshare. (laughter) And then there's the character one, you know, the one who keeps bullies from picking on kids, you know, that's the good kid. That's logic, emotion, and character. I think of them as kind of like people. I've lived with them long enough, they're like my family, my children. Think about Harry Potter, too. You know, like, you think about that. Who would be the logical one?
Hermione, exactly! That's funny, you know right away. And then, the emotional one would be probably the red-headed kid, right?
Ron, Ron Weasley, is that his name? And then, the one with the character, who leads the way, that's gonna be Harry, Harry Potter. So that's, you've got logos, pathos, and ethos right there, right in Harry Potter, and I don't think that's an accident, by the way, that the people do tend to divide characters into logic, emotion, and this projection of this hero, that you'll find it throughout literature. The Greeks invented it, though. Give them credit. Before we can go into how these tools work, though, I think it's really important to get rid of some bad thoughts about rhetoric and persuasion in general. So what are these dysfunctional beliefs? One of the most important ones is the idea that it's bad to disagree. Now, I can speak personally to this. I have been married to the same woman, more or less happily, for the past 38 years, partly because I married a wonderful woman, but one of the things that allowed our marriage to survive was we used to think that we were a great couple because we never actually disagreed, but of course, I have a Y chromosome, so I do stupid thoughtless things. And when I would, every now and then, my wife would kind of blow up at me and point out how stupid and thoughtless I am, and so, but she would not just do that. She'd also bring up all the other atrocities I had committed over the previous two or three months that we hadn't been arguing. So, we would be a perfect couple for two months, and then all of a sudden there would be like this volcano eruption, and I realized after a while that we needed some kind of escape valve here, and as I was learning the tools of rhetoric, I came to believe that actually, you're going to disagree, right? You're gonna have different ways of doing things, different perspectives. That's not necessarily a bad thing. So these tools are gonna allow you to disagree in a way that doesn't cause explosions in the kitchen. Very important for safety. Another dysfunctional belief, arguing and fighting are the same thing. You hear the people say it all the time, "We really shouldn't argue, argument is bad." Well, I wrote a book called, Thank You For Arguing, so obviously I'm pro-argument. The reason I am is that there's a big difference between a fight and an argument. In a fight, you're trying to win, right? And if you do have a Y chromosome, you're gonna try to win by dominating the other person, talking louder and longer than your opponent, or you're gonna just be dominating. Fighting is simply winning, right, you're just gonna win. In arguing, you try to win over the other person, which means persuading them to make a choice where they think they win. This is the ideal of argument, right, where you both think you have won. I'm gonna get to a particular occasion with my son that perfectly illustrates that. He was the master of that argument. Another dysfunctional belief, manipulation is unethical. It is bad to manipulate people. Well sometimes, obviously, it is. Bad things have happened through manipulation, and yet, it's such a powerful weapon, you can use it wisely, use it right, and you can even manipulate yourself, as I mentioned earlier, into a happier life, and I'm gonna tell you how I did that, myself. Finally, dysfunctional belief, why can't we just all be logical? Well, the philosopher Aristotle, who invented logic as we know it today, actually said, because of our, and this is his words, sorry human nature, logic is not the most persuasive element. So I'm wondering, what is the most persuasive element? Let me give you a hint. Think about Mr. Spock. (laughing) Like, the total logical guy, right? Was he the most persuasive person onboard the Enterprise? He wasn't, right? There's something else going on, there are other tools. We talked about logic, emotion, and character. So we're gonna get to that. I want you to choose when we go through logic, emotion, and character, and see what is the most powerful tool, and we'll start by talking the essence of rhetoric here. And this is, I teach even five-year-olds this, and it works for adults, too, at least for me. Rhetoric persuasion is not about you. It's not about you, it's about your audience, and your audience can be one person, it can be ten people, it can be 100,000 people over your social media channel, but that audience is what your persuasion is gonna be all about, so you look at the logic, emotion, and character again. Persuasive logic is what the audience believes and what it expects. Notice I didn't say facts here. I didn't talk about avoiding fallacies or anything like that. Logos, rhetorical logic, has to do with the audience's beliefs and expectations. There's persuasive emotion, let's talk about that. Again, we're talking about the audience here. What is the audience's mood, and what's missing from its life, which every marketing campaign has based itself on. Okay, that's emotion. So again, emotion is not necessarily pure psychology here. It's what the audience is... what kind of mood it's in and what it desires. Character, again, it's about the audience, whether it likes you, and whether it trusts you, okay? You could also so whether or not the audience identifies with you, if it thinks you're one of them, and maybe a slightly more knowledgeable person for that occasion, and we're gonna get into some of the tools to get people to think that of you. Show of hands here. Which do you think is the most powerful of the three? I kind of gave you pretty heavy hints here. Logic, emotion, or character? So let's have, show of hands for logic. If you raised your hand, you haven't been listening. And you didn't, yay! Alright, emotion. Okay, alright, a few. Now character, is that the most powerful tool? So, okay, we've got a majority for character, and I'm just gonna tell ya, the philosopher Aristotle says you're right. The ones who raised your hands for character were right. Now, one of the things, Aristotle actually said that, you know, in a way, character has to do with people's emotion toward who you are, so you could say character is a kind of emotion, but we're not gonna get into that. The big thing about character is whether people like and trust you, and that is the most powerful tool, and you think about great leaders through history, they almost didn't have to be logical and often weren't, and people still followed them, okay? This is all what rhetoric is about. It's the art of influence. It's about the art of argument, and ultimately, it's how to get people to agree. Preferably with you, but ideally with each other, and to do it happily, to feel that this is good for them, okay, and not walk away feeling bad about this. This is the art of seduction, right? But you want it to be consensual. You want them happy the next morning. I write in my book about how I was seduced into buying an absolute lemon of a used car, and I didn't regret it, the guy was that good. That's rhetoric at it's best. Alright, it has to do with knowing what to say on every occasion, which is one of my commitments to you here. Taking the anger out of disagreements, getting people to like and trust you, bringing groups together, and maybe most importantly, how to inoculate yourself against this virus of manipulation that's infecting our entire society now, and probably has in the past, too, okay.
Jay, I think this is a great time to start with some questions, so I've got a John who's saying, and I'm just gonna read this because it's a bit of a long one, "How do you manage the ethical slippery slope" "of using someone else's means to your own ends," "thus inherent manipulation?" "Isn't there a confirmation bias of rationalizing" "that we think we are doing" "when it's in their best interest," by having us, sorry, "by us having the answer that they are seeking," "versus providing a menu of options to include competitors" "for them to make up their own mind?" That was a long question. Do you want me to repeat it? (laughing)
Do you guys get that, what that question was? I think I do.
Okay, great. (laughing)
So, it's interesting he used the term, slippery slope. We're gonna deal with that. That is a fallacy, the idea that one occasion is gonna apply to other occasions actually violates a logical rule, and, which is awesome, because one of the greatest ways to persuade people is to violate logical rules. (laughing) So, good on you, man, for doing that. Then the question comes down to, why not just logically lay out the choices here? You think about particular occasions like voting for President of the United States. How are you gonna do that without liking and trusting the characters themselves who are running for office? Are you gonna eliminate all conventions where people wear silly hats and shout? Are you gonna eliminate music, which is one of the great persuaders of all time? You know, the problem is, again, we're back to, and by the way, he sounds like Aristotle. What is his name, again?
John sounds like Aristotle, who, you know, you could see he was practically crying when he was writing about our sorry human nature, that he wanted us to be logical, but we're not, as people. So people will make choices for illogical reasons and if you go into behavioral economics, Daniel Kahneman won a Nobel Prize for this. He was showing how people will make decisions in their lives not based on logic alone. We have to deal with that. And that's what these tools are about. It all comes down, though, to whether you're going to use it for good or whether you're just gonna be selfish about it and ruin the world, up to you.
So, another question, unless we have any here, is, so we're gonna learn a lot of practical tools, as you said. So, question is, how do you know when to use these techniques? Is it gonna come with practice? What's gonna be kind of our road map for that?
Some of these tools are gonna take practice, and some of them, you're frankly never going to learn. They're just not gonna be right for you. You're not gonna feel comfortable with them, but there's 17 of them, today. You're gonna pick a few that you're gonna use and I hear from people all the time, there are a couple, I'm not going to tell you what they are yet, but, I'm guessing you're gonna find the same sorts of things because they apply to the work that you do, as varied as it is. So, the other thing is, one of the most important things is to understand how to read an occasion, so instead of thinking what tool to use, you have to think, what situation am I in? What's the environment? What's the audience I'm dealing with and how can I read them? We're gonna be talking about that. And what's the timing here? One of the biggest problems that a lot of people have is that they jump into an argument, or they go into a marketing campaign too soon, and the art of timing is a really important rhetorical principle. I wrote this book, How to Argue with a Cat. Cats are brilliant, as predators, they are brilliant at timing. I've learned a lot from my cats.
Well on the topics of books, actually, a question had come in from Shaitan who said, do you have any recommendations for books on this topic, so, tell us about, tell us about your books.
(laughing) That's almost cheating, isn't it?
I know, but he asked. (laughing)
So, I actually, I quit my job some years ago to write a book called Thank You for Arguing. My colleagues at this publishing company where I was working as a manager thought I was having a midlife crisis. Maybe I was, I don't know, but I really thought that, I kind of was so passionate with this idea of letting people know these tools of rhetoric, if only to protect themselves against manipulation, but at the same time, learn the art of leadership, that I simply wrote the book. I honestly thought, my wife had said, "Quit your job, get it out of your system," "you're driving me crazy." And so I thought, okay, I mean, at the very least, this would keep my marriage together. I didn't expect it to sell. What happened was that the book got picked up by high school classes across the country. AP English language classes now use it as a standard textbook, and that got adults reading it as well and it took off from there. And I'm so grateful for that, because it's allowed now rhetoric to be reestablished. It's been a lost art for more than a hundred years, and it's coming back, and I honestly think that with good people like the people in this room using it, it will save our country and maybe the world. I believe it.