a greek statue is used to illustrate the art of persuasion

You might not realize how often we rely on the ancient art of persuasion in our everyday lives. But we do it quite often, if you think about it. Some of the most obvious instances, where we do it, are in the work place. For example, we need to be persuasive when we apply for a job, when we seek a raise or a promotion. We routinely use persuasion when writing proposals, presentations, and even when writing emails to co-workers when we want to gain their cooperation, for a pet project.

Other familiar examples where the need to persuade is important are when we write a letter to the editor, when we comment in social media, in blogs or in online news articles. In these instances, we position our point of view to move others to see things our way—and to embrace our way of thinking about important issues.

So how do we accomplish this skill? How do we craft our thoughts and words toward the end game of convincing others to adopt our ideas, our plans, or our points of view? And to reject the opposing side’s position?




  • We might highlight our expertise and experience in the matter.


  • We might assemble facts, statistics, and research results to bolster our arguments.


  • We might articulate how passionately we feel about a particular issue and highlight the potential dangers of choosing an alternate path.

We would be absolutely right to do all these things, because we would be utilizing the three basic principles of rhetoric, as outlined by Aristotle, himself. Following are his three basic principles:

Ethos, Logos, and Pathos

When I need to write a persuasive piece, I use these three time-honored principles, as the basis for my outline. They really work! They have been used for centuries in political speeches, sales pitches and editorials, just to name a few.

So what are Ethos, Logos, and Pathos?


Ethos is a Greek word meaning ‘character.’ It is used to establish the authority and credibility of the speaker. Your audience will be more receptive to your ideas when you can show them you know what you’re writing about.

Logos is a Greek word with several meanings, which includes ‘to reason.’ It is used to communicate the logic behind your ideas. The tangible evidence that backs up and strengthens your position. It is the logic and the reasoning behind your ideas.

Pathos is a Greek word for ‘suffering’ or ‘experience.’ It is used to appeal to the emotions of your audience. It is perhaps one of the most important principles of persuasive writing. Emotions, like fear and anger, come to mind as they are so powerful. But there are many other emotions that we can draw upon, when we want to be persuasive. Pathos can be used to arouse feelings of pride and loyalty for a company, or for a nation. It can also be used to instill feelings of identity with a group, regularly found in so many recruitment pitches.


The next time you need to create a persuasive piece, consider using Aristotle’s three principles of rhetoric, ethos, logos and pathos, in the basic outline of your writing. You may find the task easier to accomplish, and your writing will be more powerful and effective.

And lastly, pay attention to how ethos, logos, and pathos are utilized every day in political speeches, in editorials and in sales pitches. You will find that the ancient art of persuasion has not changed very much since the time of Aristotle.


James assists organizations to conceptualize and design products utilizing various media to maximize effectiveness of customers’ message while simultaneously increasing market share, client/customer loyalty and profitability… Learn more at http://www.james-gross.org. Follow James on LinkedIn and Twitter: @JamesGross.

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