Posted by Claudia Moser on 6:30 PM in , , , ,

'The word is a sign or symbol of the impressions or affections of the soul.' (Aristotle)

Within the Writers Post, Jenn had a wonderful idea for the seventh week post, namely the Power of Words. My association was with persuasion, namely the act to move by argument, entreaty, or expostulation to a belief, position, or course of action.

Persuasion is part of my daily work, since being a project manager you need to have always the adequate argument. When team members try to impose their own opinion which is contrary to the project's objectives, you need to find ways to change their minds. For sure I also listen, I wouldn't be able to make good judgements is I wouldn't take into account other people's opinions.

Aristotle, perhaps one of the most famous arguer, described three ways to change the mind of the other person.


Ethos uses trust, and focuses first on the speaker. The speaker uses his own reputation and also based on his credibility he is able to shift opinion.

The reputation of a person depends on their past experiences, and what is known and spoken about them. Nevertheless there are differences between reputation and reality, you could hide some aspects of your own past (think of politicians!!)

By leveraging you own reputation, it actually means that you try to show your own truth based on your success stories.

Credibility, depends both on expertize and how this is portrayed. If you want people to believe you, you must first show that you believe yourself. To use credibility, position yourself as an expert. Talk as if you cannot be challenged. Show how others look up to you. Use powerful gesture, eye contact and so on to position yourself as a leader.


Pathos appeals to the emotions of the listener, seeking to excite them or otherwise arouse their interest.

An effective way of arousing passions is in appeal to values. Tell stories of poor values, for example where innocent people are harmed. Use Ethos to show your own values and how you put others before yourself. You can also work with their goals and interests or even challenge their beliefs.

Language has a significant effect on emotion, and key words (fire, child, anger, smooth, etc.) can trigger senses and feelings. This is where the power of the word comes into action.


Logos focuses first on the argument, using cool logic and rational explanation, as well as demonstrable evidence.

Science and scientific proof are based on the use of empirical evidence. This usually works with my engineers!!

Evidence cannot be refuted, as courts of law seek to demonstrate. If you show, then it is very difficult to deny without calling into question the validity of the evidence produced.

Evidence can include statistics, pictures and recounted experience (especially first hand).

Reason uses rational points that call on accepted truths and proven theories. Where evidence does not exist, reason may still prevail. A common tool in reasoning is to link two items together, for example by cause and effect.

My work contains a mix of these three ways, I admit that sometimes I use pathos but logos helps more! What about you? Which method do you use?

Photo from here



Definitely all 3. You've got to get their attention, admit there's a problem, and then show them how you'll solve it with their help.

@Barb - you are absolutely right!

I choose Pathos, because it seems to be the best principle in Germany. It used to think that Ethos and Logos had higher priority with Germans.

But then I had this sales competition once with a colleague. We were to be rewarded with a valuable company product as a gift for whoever sold more of that product within a month's time. My male colleague proudly boasted "That thing is as good as mine", whereby he forgot me.

My colleague was a very good salesman. Both of us secretly knew that buying is a Pathos experience, even though most people think it's a Logos experience. His trick was to create a climate of fear and insecurity in clients, which works extremely well when convincing Germans this product will belay their fears and offer them more security. He is right. Germans place a very high value on security.

He laughed at my method. My method was to create a climate of vanity, pride and pleasure - under the motto "Man gönt sich sonst nichts". I wanted to make my clients feel happy, and enjoying the guilty pleasure of pleasing their egos about owning the product. Guess who won?

The product is still somewhere in my attic, although my colleagues who relied on logos are still wondering how I did it.

Like you said your blog, the art of speaking when you persuade, is to not let on you are manipulating their decisions. Although it sounds cynical, we are all human, and we all manipulate more or less from the cradle to the grave, regardless of where we live or what we do.

I have used all three, but I think I use Ethos and Pathos the most often. I use my past experiences (I am 61!)and successes as an example. I use Pathos a lot with my grandchildren, I'm sure they wish I would just shut up! :)

@Weissdorn - yes, you are right, Germany is a special case and since my jobs involved working with engineers, it is even more challenging. Persuasion does not mean manipulation, but I have learned that with a smile you can conquer a lot :)
@Belle - I am sure your granddaughters love you!

Being in the logistics field--I have to say that I do use logos and ethos the most. Logos as I make offers on freight. Price, Miles, etc., all weigh in. And ethos because I mostly do phone work, and you have to have a certain voice that exudes confidence--so the person on the other end is comfortable with your abilities to make things happen. I've seen people in this industry not be able to perform because they didn't have the phone voice to gain that trust from the other end.

What a wonderful take on the Power of Words!! Thanks for joining the hop!! Cheers, Jenn

@Jenn - yes, phone talk is different, the power coming from words needs to be present even more since you cannot rely on the body language for example! And it was fun to write!

I probably mostly rely on ethos and pathos but logos would factor in depending on the situation. I was a teacher before I became a mother and for both gaining trust is essential.

I think I'm more ethos and pathos--I need to improve my logos skills!

@Desiree - well by being a teacher you know these techniques better than anyone! Working with children is special and so rewarding!
@Jennifer - for each of us there are areas where we are more at ease but I am convinced that in the end we use them all!

I enjoyed this post, Claudia, not only because it's well written but also because I can totally relate. I'm also a project manager, and like you, persuasion is part of the daily grind.

I sure try to use the proper mix of these three ways. This is a very informative post.

@Reiza - yes, sometimes your job gives you some ideas for the blog right? And thank you for your words of appreciation!
@Langley - for sure and thanks!

Post a Comment

Thank you for your comments, I appreciate them all!


"A story is not like a road to follow … it's more like a house. You go inside and stay there for a while, wandering back and forth and settling where you like and discovering how the room and corridors relate to each other, how the world outside is altered by being viewed from these windows. And you, the visitor, the reader, are altered as well by being in this enclosed space, whether it is ample and easy or full of crooked turns, or sparsely or opulently furnished. You can go back again and again, and the house, the story, always contains more than you saw the last time. It also has a sturdy sense of itself of being built out of its own necessity, not just to shelter or beguile you."
by Alice Munro

Copyright © 2009 The story All rights reserved. Theme by Laptop Geek. | Bloggerized by FalconHive.