2000 years ago Socrates came up with his 3 Rehetorics. Ethos, Pathos, and Logos.
These Rhetorics and used extensively in persuasion techniques.
Ethos means the identity of the person to you. For example, if you are given a piece of advice from your father, you are more likely to accept it, rather than a stranger. Even if the advice is exactly the same. Ethos means using authority to persuade.
Pathos means emotions. For example, if you were seeing a YouTube video asking you to donate to a charity, the video would be more persuasive if it told the story of the people involved, how has their life been, and how your money would help them. Pathos means using emotions to persuade.
Logos means logic. For example, you see a sign while boarding the train that there is a gap between the train and the platform and you may slip in so walk carefully. (Maybe the example was too dark but you get the point.). Logos means using logic to persuade.
Any advertisement you see would include all three, ethos pathos, and logos. And you can find many YouTube videos if you search for “Example of Ethos Pathos Logos”.
When I first learned about it did make sense. But as time went on I found use cases for Ethos, Pathos, and Logos beyond persuasion. Whoever I talked to lit up when I explained the concept. Each and every person found it insightful.
(By the way, the sentence above is Pathos.)
This post is an exploration of the 3 Rhetoric applied in different ways, all of which are aimed at making well-informed decisions. Before the exploration, we should take a look at which of the Rhetoric is most useful and when.
What’s most important Ethos, Pathos, or Logos?
Throughout life, we face different challenges. The way we overcome those challenges is by finding a solution. The way to find a solution is to be logical.
Therefore, if you want to solve life’s problems, you need to be logical.
If you are logical, any situation you face could be solved.
This may be the reason why MBA graduates who were also engineers are preferred more than other MBA graduates. (By the way, the previous sentence was an appeal to Ethos)
If you want to make better decisions overall, you need Logos.
Ways of Using Ethos Pathos Logos Framework
Not getting persuaded easily by identifying ethos, pathos, and logos in an argument and only focusing on logos
In an argument clearly distinguishes ethos, pathos and logos.
And then focus on the logos.
For example, suppose someone tells you not do to things a certain way. You ask a logos question like why? The answer you get is I said so which is an ethos answer.
Logos is truth. Truth cannot hurt you. Truth only leads to clarity. Therefore, Logos can’t hurt you and it will lead you to clarity.
Persuading and helping people better by understanding the situation through the lens of rhetoric.
Suppose someone is trying to help you, but the help they offer is stupid. Many times we just dismiss the help. But we can and I believe it’s much better to help them form their arguments.
You can let them know that you understand they want the best for you (ethos), and you understand their sentiment (pathos) and you respect it (again pathos), and then you explain/ask them how their idea may not be ideal or maybe improved (logos).
Developing a better personality by incorporating all three
We should develop a personality that encompasses all three.
If you are good with logic (logos), but are terrible at ethos and pathos. Then you should focus on the other two. Because even if your arguments are “logically” correct, you are unable to present them properly.
Similarly, if people listen to your and follow your advice i.e you have ethos, but your advice is terrible, you should focus on developing your logos.
Develop and incorporate all three.
Skipping politics, misunderstandings, ego games, and status games by always focusing on logos
Status games are all ethos and pathos. Avoid status games. I have skipped a lot of office politics by focusing my arguments only on work and not the person.
Focus on the problem. Not the person.
Sometimes you will make people hurt, but as long as you are focusing on logos, it may not matter all the much how they feel in this moment. And similarly, it may not matter how you feel at this moment.