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Persuasion is an important at of what the stories need to achieve and it is also the same place where an understanding of the roles played by the political rhetoric becomes the main point. Rhetoric at its core is referred to an art of persuasion and is a power to make use of the device for verbal communication in order to change a person’s mind through arguments and this has been a consistent interpretation for over 2000 years, ever since Aristotle, the Greek philosopher first detected the three main forms of rhetoric- ethos, pathos and logos (Tran 2016). He described the power of the ethos, pathos and logos in convincing the mind of the people. The “modes of persuasion” of Aristotle, which is otherwise known as the rhetorical appeals are commonly known as the ethos, pathos and logos. These rhetorical appeals are the means of persuading others in order to believe a specific point of view. These appeals are generally used in advertising and speech writing in order to sway the audiences. This paper will elaborate on how these Aristotelian appeals of the ethos, pathos and logos have underpinned the persuasive communication for over the 2000 years. It will describe these appeals with relevant examples of their application in the modern business communication and their importance in the digitalized world of communication.
As according to Aristotle, rhetoric refers to the ability, in each specific case, in order to see the present means of persuasion. In modern days, business makes use of advertising their products and services and they consider it to be a communication strategy. The advertising appeals are used by the marketing and the advertising professionals in order to cater the attention and to persuade the customers for buying or acting (Berlanga, Garcia-Garcia and Victoria 2013). In the theory of rhetorical appeal, the idea of appeal dates back to the Aristotle, the one who had identified the three primary appeals of communication, which are also known as the rhetorical triangle. They are ethos, pathos and logos. In the modern language they are known as appeal of credibility, emotion and logic respectively.
The term ethos, which is sometimes also referred to as an appeal to the ethics, is generally used as a means to convince the audiences through the creditability or authority of the persuader, either be it a significant or an experienced figure in a particular field or be it a popular celebrity. In other words, it is the credibility or trustworthiness of the speaker. It is essentially the credibility of a business man, which is the reason for which people must believe what he is saying. In many cases, ethos comes solely from the rank of the business man within an organization. In modern days, the leaders build the ethos most efficiently through demonstrating the technical expertise in a particular area and through displaying a strong level of character and integrity (McCormack 2014). This strong level of character and integrity convinces the audiences or the customers that the man is not going to lie to them. As stated by Aristotle, “We believe fair minded people to a greater extent and more quickly than we do others.” Hence, the very first level of judgment which is casted by audiences is targeted at the credibility of the speakers. Before a speaker takes a stage for speaking, the audience already starts to analyze him different ways. Credibility is usually established through the perceptions of the audiences on authority, respect, history, expertise, trustworthiness as well as emotional and physical presentation.
Whether they are placed in corporate lobbies, retail stores or waiting rooms, digital signs usually have to accomplish one of these two things- persuading the audience for taking action and informing the audience. In this world of digital signage, making use of ethos help to persuade the viewers is really hard (Kaplan 2014). Until and unless that content actually features someone who is both well-respected and identifiable in the fields, the business cannot simply have enough time to introduce its argument maker.
The term pathos, which is associated with an appeal to emotion, is a method of swaying the audience of an argument through creating a response that is emotional to a convincing story or an impassioned plea. It is all about making emotional connection and attachment, which is essentially the main reason behind why people believe the man is saying will surely matter to them. Hence, it is very important of making emotional bond with the customers in business as it has a great power to flourish a business and therefore, it is a critical area of competence for the leaders in modern days. Giving the customers individual attention, being enthusiastic regarding the progress of the organization as well as of the individuals that enable it and taking active interest in the career development of the team members are the ways in which the leaders do this well. In the end, pathos has indeed the greatest impact on the perception of the followers of the effectiveness of the leaders as communicators. As stated by Aristotle, “To understand the emotions—that is, to name them and describe them, to know their causes and the way in which they are excited.” Ability of tapping into the emotions of the audience could evoke the feelings of connectedness as well as that of the motivation of acting and prescribing to the thoughts and positions of the speakers (Dima, Teodorescu and Gifu 2014). It can be attained through humor, vivid storytelling, engaging the delivery of information, descriptive use of language and emphasizing emotionally in the words and themes. There are many use of pathos in the content of digital signage. It is an appeal which lends itself to the imagery.
However, it is also to note that all the empathy and the authority present in the world would not really help if people do not understand what the business is talking about or how it came to its conclusion. The term logos, the appeal to logic are a method of persuading an audience with a reason by making use of the facts and figures. It is the mode for appealing to the sense of reason to others. The modern leaders express their logical ideas in compelling and clear terms in order to influence the results or outcomes through employing strengths in problem solving, strategic thinking as well as in analytical skills (Mshvenieradze 2013). While there are some who get by on gut feeling. In this context, Aristotle has said that “Persuasion occurs through the arguments when we show the truth or the apparent truth from whatever is persuasive in each case” (MacDonnell 2016). It is to note that a clear and concise argument, which is logical as well, provides substance to the message of the speaker.
Hence, these three Aristotelian elements of communication reinforce each other. Each of these three elements is extremely important for excellent communication. Combing them is the path to achieve the expected success. They are the core pillars of persuasion that have set the foundation for creating a connection in between the speaker and the audience to be achieved. They are of a great help in the modern world of digitalized business in making their communication effective. Though these elements have been identified 2000 years ago, but they still have the potential to change the communication issues of any business in an effective one, if implemented collaboratively.
Berlanga, I., García-García, F. and Victoria, J.S., 2013. Ethos, pathos y logos en Facebook. El usuario de redes: nuevo «rétor» del siglo XXI. Comunicar, 21(41).
Dima, I.C., Teodorescu, M. and Gifu, D., 2014. New communication approaches vs. traditional communication. International Letters of Social and Humanistic Sciences, 20, pp.46-55.
Kaplan, R.B., 2014. Contrastive rhetoric and discourse analysis: Who writes what to whom? When? In what circumstances?. In Discourse and social life (pp. 124-143).
MacDonnell, T.C., 2016. The Rhetoric of the Fourth Amendment: Toward a More Persuasive Fourth Amendment. Wash. & Lee L. Rev., 73, p.1869.
McCormack, K.C., 2014. Ethos, pathos, and logos: The benefits of Aristotelian rhetoric in the courtroom. Wash. U. Jurisprudence Rev., 7, p.131.
Mshvenieradze, T., 2013. Logos ethos and pathos in political discourse. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 3(11), p.1939.
Tran, B., 2016. Ethos, Pathos, and Logos of Doing Business Abroad: Geert Hofstede's Five Dimensions of National Culture on Transcultural Marketing. In International Business: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications (pp. 1601-1626). IGI Global.
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