Greece is in the news right now for all the wrong reasons. However, regular readers will know that I have a bit of a ‘thing’ for the ancient Greeks, who had some truly innovative ideas ahead of their time – including an early version of democracy (unless you were a slave, of course).
Yes, they had some pretty odd ideas too. According to Horrible Histories (so it must be true) the normally clued-up philosopher Heraclitus tried to cure his fluid retention problem by burying himself up to the neck in horse manure. He was surprised when it didn’t work. Would it be too obvious to draw a comparison with the economic woes of modern-day Greece at this point? Yes, I thought so…
The ancient Greeks are credited with inventing the art of debating, and if you were an outstanding persuader and influencer, you were a celebrity A-lister. Philosopher Aristotle came up with a brilliantly simple model for influencing others, which I believe is still at the crux of great influencing today. See what you think.
Aristotle maintained that there are three elements to being a great persuader: Ethos, Pathos and Logos.
I bet that if you think about a persuasive speaker you respect, you will recognise all three of those qualities at work, all at the same time. Equally, if you were to think about a time when someone failed to win you over, I bet at least one of those elements was missing, Furthermore, I reckon you could work out which one. Maybe you knew someone was factually correct about something, but they lacked warmth or didn’t listen to your point of view? They lacked Pathos. Maybe you know someone who is wonderfully warm and fluffy, but somehow their thinking is just too woolly or poorly explained to really convince you (lack of Logos).
And frankly, if someone lacks Ethos, you will often spot that even before they open their mouth. Think about your stereotypical car salesman in a greasy suit.
So next time you find yourself at an important sales meeting, or a networking event, or Parents’ Evening, make sure you’ve got your Ethos, Pathos and Logos firmly fixed in place. Indeed, make them a regular part of your communication skills. As Aristotle would say, “we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
Kalí tíhi! (Good luck!)