Why Do We Do What We Do? The 3 Ways To Persuade

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Why Do We Do What We Do?  The 3 Ways To Persuade


High, Fast and Inside


Do you ever wonder why we make the decisions ( good and bad) that we do? Invariably, it is the decision, that precedes the action we take. Those actions, positive or otherwise are only undertaken after a decision has been reached in our brain. True, that decision can be reached with very little thinking or in the blink of an eye but that doesn’t change the process. Even when we are reacting with blinding speed to avoid a baseball thrown towards us or grab onto a post to keep from falling, it’s still the result of a split second decision being made in our brain or ganglions.


Once Bitten, Twice Shy

Clearly some of our decisions are made without our conscious thinking or we have already previously run through a situation in our minds (sort of a dress rehearsal) or had previous experience in the past. Think back to the second time you put your hand near a stove burner or in a closing car door-if you’re like me, I’m sure your reaction time was greatly enhanced by the memory of the pain from the previous encounter. That thinking escaped me and my brother when we played with wasp and hornet nests though.


Three Ways to Persuade

According to a much smarter, older dude that hung out in Greece a few years ago, we make our decisions based on three basic methods of persuasion. Aristotle termed these ways, Ethos, Logos and Pathos. No, not the three musketeers, although close. He argued that you only had these 3 basic ways to persuade an audience of your position; all I am doing is saying that our brains  react as an audience of one to the same 3 basic principles. Let’s take a brief look at them to better understand why a person makes the decisions they do and thereby perform the action (or inaction, if you have a teenager on the premises).



1. Ethos

This term has the same root base as the modern words, ethical and ethics. If we believe that the source of information is accurate and trustworthy we are more likely to react favourably to it. That means we have to have integrity if we are going to talk to people about what we do or what we are selling. It’s a simple truth that people do business with people that they feel they can trust. Thus the importance of relationship building with your audience whether it be in a small informal gathering, a large staged function or through an email list. It is critical that you do not damage your relationship through misuse, abuse or neglect. How many of you are like me and had to remove yourself from the email list of someone that you once trusted who ended up sending you an endless barrage of what I call ‘Hype and Tripe’?


2. Logos

Again it forms the root of the words: logic, logical and logistics. In the realm of persuasion it follows that if you are able to state your position in a well defined and transparent way that you will win over the audience through logic.  It does become fuzzier when you are dealing with someone who doesn’t think the same way you do or if they have different terms of reference to you. Anyone who has tried logic on a cranky 2 year old can confirm the futility of this action. In talking to prospects it is prudent to find out what level they are at and then you moving your logic to that level or you may be disappointed at the results. Remember that persuasion involves convincing people that your position is the correct one and to take actions that are appropriate based on your information.


3. Pathos

This term refers to the emotional methods of persuasion. It is by far the most powerful of the three forms and can over-ride the others in a heartbeat. Advertisers of body and image products rely heavily on the use of pathos in their marketing and advertising. They go to great lengths to appeal to our emotions knowing that our emotions of wanting a certain feeling will overwhelm the logic of us actually being able to score the beautiful girl (or guy) based on our chewing gum or deodorant.

Political leaders and their advisors are masters at the art of appealing to the masses based on the use of pathos. You need look no further back in history that the ‘weapons of mass destruction’ debacle or the constant exposure of the mass protests in Eygpt to see the value of pathos as a political tool.

When using pathos as a means to draw interest or people to you from a business perspective you must be extremely careful.  Always remain within the bounds of reality and rely just as heavily on logos and ethos to help make your case. To only be able to incite someone to action through the use of pathos is a recipe for disaster. Pathos will trump logos in the short term but not over a long haul.  And this isn’t a get rich quick scheme.

Till Next Time…


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 Sigrid McNab

Skype: sigrid.mcnab  

Email: sigridmcnab@gmail.com


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About Sigrid McNab

Sigrid McNab is the author of #1 Amazon Best Seller, speaker and the CEO and Founder of sigridmcnab.com. Sigrid specializes in blogging, attraction marketing, and generating highly qualified leads. Sigrid teaches people how to build a successful online business.

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