Don’t despair. This isn’t political. I think we ought to be able to draw communications, business and relationship lessons from that part of American experience.
And there’s a big one you can benefit from. Aristotle saw it coming.
No matter which side of a cultural fence you stand on, if you think about the eventual effectiveness of what was communicated for better or worse over more than a year, there is one aspect of that exhausting campaign you can use to improve your own bridge-building.
Aristotle knew it around 400 BC.
So did you, from some class in college that taught you about his theory, a theory you heard on some long-forgotten Monday or Wednesday, or Friday.
Stay with me here. Aristotle wrote long ago that effective persuasion consists of three major parts. These are Ethos, Logos and Pathos. Remember? Ethics, fact and passion.
But the most important part of that, from the father of Western thought, was the observation that to be compelling, to stick and motivate, to get people to share your vision, what you hope to say needs these in the right minimal proportions.
Aristotle, and later his student Socrates, said that Pathos — passion — needs to comprise at least 65% of the message. The other percentages, he thought, were 25% fact and 10% ethical base. People, being imperfect humans, can spin truth and ethics to taste, but they can’t do without heart-to-heart connection.
Think about what we experienced in the past year. The winner’s messaging might have been 95% Pathos. Remember the wildly emotional rallies? The signs and shouting? It was not about emotional intelligence — is was about emotions tapped as campaign fuel.
The head always follows the heart, something I’ve been telling students and consulting clients for a long time. And it works.
The presidential contender who did not win in November ran a campaign that was much greater attempted Logos, a greater effort at winning intellectually, dispassionately. Big mistake. My guess, only a guess, is that campaigns’ percentages were something like 75% attempted logos and much less passion than needed.
As a teacher, consultant and life-long learner, I love, appreciate and need intellectual connection. But I also know that if you can’t connect with hearts first, and give those hearts continued reason to stay connected, you cannot win in the end.
If your company, your job-search, your sales efforts, your non-profit outreach and whatever else you do is to be a winner, remember why the next president won the right to assume office.
You must be as ethical and factual as you can. People deserve that. Hell, you do for your own sake. But it will be heart … the minimum 65% pathos that drives people to your side. Pump up the passion. Help hearts beat fast for you.
That, to quote Sylvester Stallone in Rocky Balboa, “is how winning is done.”
Aristotle and Socrates knew it. And now so do you. Again.