THE 3 PILLARS OF PERSUASION: LOGOS-ETHOS-PATHOS

  • To be a good leader, first reputation, then empathy, and finally solid data and information. 
  • We define ourselves as “rational animals”, but really we are “emotional animals”. 
  • 2,300 years ago Aristotle defined the three pillars of persuasion and communication: Logos, Ethos and Pathos.

It is very clear that communication is one of the fundamental keys to leadership in organisations.  And when we say “communication”, we mean communication in all its breadth and in all its directions: from top to bottom, from bottom to top, transversally, empathy, etc.

There are a multitude of variables involved in good communication with and between the teams that form part of a project; but we can greatly simplify the path to success in this area just by being clear about the bases that Aristotle established 2,300 years ago in his famous treatise on “Rhetoric”.

There he established that the human mind had three essential dimensions on which it interpreted all the communication and reality it perceived: logos, ethos and pathos.

He established these three pillars as key to any exercise of persuasion, and if we apply them to our interpersonal communication today, we see that they are perfectly valid.

LOGOS: refers to reason, logical thinking and arguments, and appeals to the intelligence of the audience or teams.

PATHOS: refers to emotion and feelings, whether these are negative (fear, anger, envy, etc.) or positive (affection, admiration, illusion, desire, compassion, enthusiasm, etc.).  Only from Pathos can we communicate and persuade through empathy with others.

ETHOS: refers to credibility, trust, reputation, values and moral authority.

In organisational leadership, it is essential to take all three factors into account and strike the best possible balance between them.

However, from my experience in the business world, in my studies and, above all, in my expeditions, especially in critical, uncertain, risky, complex moments, where managing communication with teams becomes a crucial issue with possible extreme consequences, I dare to say that the weight of each factor should be reviewed:

Logically, the more rational arguments we have, with data and accurate information, the more credible we will be in communication.  But I believe that despite defining ourselves as “rational animals”, in reality we are more “emotional animals”, and in almost all situations, but especially in the most critical ones, our feelings and emotions will have more weight than reason when it comes to convincing, committing and acting.

And being able to grasp and master the emotions of the people who make up our team or project is no easy task, as they will always be volatile and diverse, as each person is different and has different priorities and personal circumstances.  Here the leader’s empathy will be essential to be able to understand and manage communication.  But one of the ways that makes it easier to manage the emotions and feelings of our audience or the people we are interacting with is Ethos.

In a world and a social and organisational environment that is so complex, changeable, full of contradictory information and brimming with threats and uncertainties on all sides, it will be key to work well on our credibility, trust, reputation and solidity of values in order to have a positive impact on the emotions of our teams, and for them to be convinced by credible arguments.

To be a good leader, let us give priority to our reputation and trust (Ethos).  From there, let us communicate with empathy and emotional intelligence (Pathos).  And of course, always have serious and reliable data and arguments (Logos).

By |2024-01-10T18:58:34+01:0010 de January de 2024|Global, Leadership|3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. moto x3m 12 June, 2024 at 11:55 - Reply

    Thanks to reading this article, I have gained new knowledge, thank you very much

  2. Rose Harris 5 June, 2024 at 14:44 - Reply

    Effective leadership hinges on robust communication. Prioritizing credibility (Ethos), empathy (Pathos), and rational arguments (Logos) ensures success. For instance, promoting solar energy requires factual data, trustworthiness, and emotional connection to inspire action.

  3. foodle 4 April, 2024 at 06:22 - Reply

    I want to thank you for your post on the cat trap. In addition to the fact that I now have a deeper comprehension of it, I am grateful for the article’s comprehensiveness. Your writing is something that I would like to read more of in the future.

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