Aristotelian appeals of ethos, pathos, and logos have underpinned persuasive communication for over 2000 years. Describe these appeals with specific examples of their usage in modern business communications. Critically appraise whether these appeals are still as relevant today given the digitalisation of business communications.
Communication is one of the most pivotal tools of negotiation in today’s business context. In this respect the rhetorical triangle explaining the three important components of persuasive communication that is Ethos, Pathos and Logos have been discussed in more details. These objectives of the communication have been seen to preside over the business since the last 2000 years. However, due to the digitalisation of the business communications a number of changes have been observed in the established format such as target oriented or goal oriented communication rather than connecting with the speaker or setting up of an emotional bond.
Explanation of ethos, pathos and Aristotelian logos
The rhetorical term have been identified by Aristotle and refers to the primary concepts through which messages in any communication channel are analysed and related to. Here, Ethos has been derived from the Greek term ‘Ethics’ and refers to the credibility of a person making the communication. The Ethos is established through a number of factors including position or status of the individual within the organization. The setting up of the credibility can depend upon the topic or substance of communication (Shanahan and Seele, 2015).
Pathos is the direct translation of the English term “emotion”. It takes into consideration the audience and the way they react to a message. It depends upon the power of making emotional bonds. This is particularly important in the context of today’s business organization where people are mostly working in teams rather than independent projects. Effective communication through pathos could be established by giving people undivided attention, taking an active interest in the career development of the team members (Harmon et al. 2015).
The term Logos has been derived from the English term logic. It refers to the facts and statements which are used to build a logical argument. For example, any new product launched in the market need to capture the attention of the customers for which effective communication gimmicks is implied from time to time. This is mainly dependent upon the presentation of detailed knowledge to the employees of the organization through statistical figures and data. As commented by Valenzano III (2014), the logos aspect of the communication is based upon active research and knowledge sharing.
Relation of pathos, ethos and logos to modern business communications
The three aspects of the rhetorical model of communication as suggested by Aristotle can be discussed with reference to the modern day business scenario. The ethos refers to the credibility of the speaker to make the audience believe in their messages. The most aspect over here is to develop trusts within the listeners. The communication could be here further divided into oral and written communication. The written communication is dependent upon vocabulary, punctuation, organization and style of sentences. The oral communication is dependent upon a number of factors such as confidence, dressing sense and the kind of gestures used by the communicator. As commented by Kernbach et al. (2015), speaking in manner that respect the cultural sentiments of the listeners along with maintaining the structural clarity of the sentences also helps in restoring faith and trust in the audiences. However as argued by Penrose (2015), for acquiring ethos strong credible reputation needs to be built by the speaker, which is subjective and may vary with the preferences of people. Sometimes it is solely dependent upon the brand image and face value of a person. For example Nike was not initially considered one of the top notch clothing lines. However, they had built a strong ethos by professional advertisements, celebrity endorsements.
There lies a very slight demarcation between ethos and pathos. Pathos on the other hand focuses upon developing an emotional connect between the coder (speaker) and the decoder (listener). For example, Nike had been using celebrity brand endorsements for connecting with the audience as people like their favourite stars or role models advertising for their brands. It enhances the desire in them for purchasing a particular brand. Similarly communicating in a manner, where the emotional attributes of the person are taken into consideration such as addressing the personal and professional grievances of the employees can help foster the emotional bond. The emotional connect can be established through a number of ways, preferably through stories. As commented by Shanahan and Seele (2015), a story, analogy, smile, helps in linking a primary message with a triggered emotional response.
The logos should be supported with stats and facts, which often help in making an argument more favourable. This mode of communication is further dependent upon the ability to conduct research study and gather sufficient data. Hence, along with the persuasive skills the analytical skills of the communicator needs to be sharp. Here, reason can be built into an argument through effective story telling supported by mathematical figures and data.
Applicability of the appeals to today’s digital age business communication
One of the most important questions which can be answered through the assignment is that which among the three aspects of Aristotelian rhetorical communication is most effective within the context of a business organization. The arguments could be justified by conducting a comparison of the three-ethos, logos and pathos. As commented by Macnamara (2014), some would simply want to believe in a speech because it has been delivered by an eminent personality without looking for the facts (credibility). On the other hand, some would search for an emotional attachment to the message being delivered (pathos). However, as argued by Neher and Sandin (2015), both are flawed and should be supported through logos or logic, where the merely stated fact or theory is further supported by stats and mathematical data. As a philosopher and master of logical reasoning, Aristotle believed that Logos should be the most supported mode of persuasive appeal.
The present day business organizations are more targets specific or goal oriented. Therefore, the pressure is constantly built over the employees for raising their bars. With the increasing pressure from the management it becomes difficult for the keep themselves motivate. In such cases, additional support from the management in terms of timely feedback sessions can help in reducing the number of employee turnovers. Therefore, the pathos mode of communication is effective over here in striking a bond. However, for strategic management keeping the balance right between pathos and logos is indispensable.
Harmon, D.J., Green, S.E. and Goodnight, G.T., (2015). A model of rhetorical legitimation: The structure of communication and cognition underlying institutional maintenance and change. Academy of Management Review, 40(1), pp.76-95.
Kernbach, S., Eppler, M.J. and Bresciani, S., (2015). The use of visualization in the communication of business strategies: An experimental evaluation. International Journal of Business Communication, 52(2), pp.164-187.
Macnamara, J., (2014). Organisational listening: A vital missing element in public communication and the public sphere. Asia Pacific Public Relations Journal, 15(1), pp.89-108.
Neher, W. and Sandin, P., (2015). Communicating ethically. Abingdon:Routledge, p.125.
Penrose, J.M., (2015). Understanding and using the relationships between business and professional communication and public relations. Business and Professional Communication Quarterly, 78(4), pp.494-510.
Shanahan, F. and Seele, P., (2015). Shorting Ethos: exploring the relationship between Aristotle’s Ethos and Reputation Management. Corporate Reputation Review, 18(1), pp.37-49.
Valenzano III, J.M., Wallace, S.P. and Morreale, S.P., (2014). Consistency and change: The (r) evolution of the basic communication course. Communication Education, 63(4), pp.355-365