How to Speak so that People Listen

The first topic is a simple but powerful model that has helped me greatly. Now it can also help you, so without further ado:

Are people listening to what you have to say?

How often do you try to convince someone with your superior logic only to have them ignore your obvious wisdom?

The method known since ancient times tells us to consider three factors:

  • ethos or personal credibility,
  • pathos or a worthy purpose,
  • and only then logos or rational arguments.

Ethos: Why should I listen to you?

Here are some facts:

  • I have learned from painful experience: in relationships, at work and in business,
  • I have read a dozen books and hundreds of articles on the subject,
  • I have spoken at local meetups as well as international conferences,

and most importantly:

  • despite no formal sales training and an aversion to the activity I managed to connect with enough people to sell $100k worth of training through my Agile consultancy and more then double my salary when I returned to the job market a year ago.

Does this make everything I say true? Of course not, but does it make you more open to listening to what I have to say compared to a random person you know nothing about? I’ll bet it does.

Pathos: What’s in it for me?

How do you feel when something is really important to you, but the people around you don’t seem to respond?

Can you imagine what you could accomplish if you managed to find better ways to (openly and honestly) persuade the most important people in your life? Your spouse? Your children? Your boss? What would that mean to you?

Understand what your audience wants and you will understand why they ignore something that’s obviously (to you!) so very important. Help them see how your idea will bring them closer to what they want and you will earn both their attention and their gratitude.

Logos: Now I’m ready to hear the logic

Are you trustwortly in their eyes? Is what you have to say important to them? Now you can get to the what and the how. It still has to make sense, but you’ll have a much easier time if you have made a genuine connection on the level of ethos and pathos.

Use with care

Don’t try to use this method to manipulate people into doing something that is not in their best interest. People will catch on sooner or later and you will suffer horribly. I don’t want you to suffer; so don’t do it!

Learn more

If you want to read more about ethos, pathos and logos here’s a great article from a blog that I really like: Sources of Insight “Character trumps emotion trumps logic“.

Try it!