I am indebted to my friend Ron Deffenbaugh for sharing this information with me. Recently Ron taught some of us about Stephen Covey’s 30 Methods of Influence (30 Methods of Influence By Stephen Covey (lifeisinlife1.blogspot.com). Because these ideas reflect some Aristotelian ideas, they fit in with my fourth week post where I address ideas found in the early masters of public speaking. Aristotle proposed three pillars of making a speech: ethos, pathos, and logos. Covey’s ideas of influence are closely based on those three things.
Ethos: Things Seen
Where Aristotle asserted that a speaker must be a person of ethics (ethos), Covey says the first order of influence are our moral behaviors, things that people see in us. For example, we must refrain from unkind words, exercise patience, keep our promises, and live the law of love. Each of these goes straight to the influence a person exhibits. Do people see you as an ethical person? Do you keep your word? How do you speak to others, especially those who are under your authority? It seems that Aristotle was on to something when he suggested that personal ethics carries a lot of influence. Covey agrees.
Pathos: Things Felt
We have taken the Greek word, pathos, directly into English vocabulary. It means an emotion of sympathetic pity. Even the word sympathy uses the Greek root, and we get the words pathetic and its opposite, apathetic, also in English. Each one carries a component of feelings. Aristotle believed that there were times in an influential speech that legitimate appeal to emotions helped persuade the listeners.
Stephen Covey also understands that in order to influence people, you often must appeal to their emotions. Being an accepting and understanding person goes a long way in breaking down barriers of resistance. For example, he encourages us to admit mistakes and ask for forgiveness. Furthermore, look for things we have in common with others. Commonality builds bridges of emotional influence. Marketers recognize the combination of emotional appeal with logic to sell products, and this leads us to the third of Aristotle’s foundations.
Logos: Things Heard
The Greek word, logos, can be simply translated as “word.” Aristotle used it to suggest that reason and logical arguments were also a part of one’s ability to influence. Appealing to personal ethics or emotions were insufficient methods of persuasion without sound reasoning and facts.
Covey calls these things, “items heard.” If we hear others speak inconsistencies and fallacies, we are less inclined to be influenced by them. He encourages people to prepare their minds with good information, to take the time to teach, and to speak the language of logic.
The ancient wisdom of Aristotle still relates to influence today, and we probably use these influences even if we are unaware they come from such an ancient source. Anyone in a position of influence can’t go wrong by living ethically, caring for the feelings of others, and using logic and sound reasoning to communicate ideas. Stephen Covey’s wisdom has expanded Aristotle to help us do just that.