Effective Communication the Aristotle Way      

Known as ‘The Three Modes of Persuasion’, Aristotle defined this model for effective communication, especially communications from a speaker or writer to an audience. These principles remain fundamentally useful and significant today, more than 2,300 years since Aristotle first proposed them.

Try using the model to engage with to your audience and to call them to action to tackle issues and problems. The principles show how an audience or listener determines the validity and quality of written or spoken communications, and crucially whether to take action according to the communication.

The essential elements are as follows. We might describe these as the ingredients of successful communications:

  1. Ethos – The integrity of the communicator.
  2. Pathos – The emotional effect (of communicator and message) on the listener/reader/audience.
  3. Logos – The relevance and strength of the message content.

Each of the above main areas contains, and is consciously and unconsciously assessed by the audience according to many indicators and factors, which are interpreted and summarised for the modern world below. Note that some factors appear in more than one area where the factors have different sorts of relevance (for example ’empathy’ is both an indicator of communicator integrity (ethos), and a key aspect of emotional connection (pathos):

  1. Ethos – integrity of the communicator

vocal style, body-language, passion, enthusiasm and body language

humility, modesty, empathy, sensitivity, concern for audience

trustworthiness, experience, reputation, credibility

technical expertise, knowledge, skills

qualification, reliable referee opinion, evidence of reputation/claims

wisdom, strength, maturity, self-awareness

motive, rewards arising for the communicator from successful communication

associates, friends, interests

appropriateness, suitability of style/approach for situation

  1. Pathos – emotional effect on listener/audience

attention-grabbing, impactful

involving, engaging, audience is attracted and drawn in

sensitivity, empathy, concern for audience

passion, enthusiasm, believability, credibility

inspirational and motivational impact, stirring

fair and just

ethical and careful

encourages a following

‘likeability’ (difficult to analyse, but a big factor)

makes people feel good, smile, be happy, enthused

helpful, facilitating, selfless, loving, caring, compassionate

affirming, audience identifies with communicator

sympathetic, harmonious, non-competing, non-conflicting

interesting, captivating, builds desire and interest in audience

invites or encourages action, makes it easy to act/decide

  1. Logos – relevance and strength of the message content

well structured

meaningful and relevant

clear, in language and terms that the audience will understand easily

achievable, transferable, applicable, usable for audience

logical, cohesive, demonstrates ’cause and effect’

realistic, believable, appropriate scale and timings

includes tangible measurable positive outcomes

special or unique

outcomes justify the time, effort, cost, risk of change/action

supported with facts and figures, referenced, proven, convincing, evidenced

balanced, includes pros and cons, unbiased

accentuates the positive – gives reasons ‘to do’, instead of reasons ‘not to do’

memorable, can be absorbed and interpreted and the reasoning/justification easily recalled

Consider the above and weave them into your next critical communication – you may find some of the above will have quick results and some will require further development to make them work for you! It’s all about trial and error to get the correct “fit” for your approach!

Good luck!

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