Three Ancient Principles to make your conversations more effective…

POSTED BY: leighm


If we wind back the clock to Aristotle’s days, where he identified three points all good communicators need to cover, and they still ring true today.

1. Ethos; this is your credibility - the reason people should believe what you’re saying. In the past, in organisations, it came from your rank. Today, your ethos also comes from demonstrating technical expertise in a specific area and displaying strong levels of integrity and character in how you conduct yourself.

Reflect on how you phrase your language, are you speaking openly or do you tell people what you think they want to hear? This is a very common trap people fall into in their career, especially when managing up to a boss or with customers – people do prefer to hear the truth even if it is ‘hard to swallow’ – because together you can then remedy or take action to improve a situation.

Do you use language that is relatable? Can your audience actually interpret what you’re saying or do they walk away scratching their head. As an example, there is a fun title I band about with Clients when recruiting digital resource, these ‘digital ninjas’ (people who seem to talk a lot about what digital is, can do, possibilities, case studies vs. real work they have executed). They seem to talk a good game, however once appointed they arrive with gusto, slash up projects and confuse teams, don’t actually produce anything tangible, or can’t demonstrate results.

So consider this – are you able to deliver on your word, does your experience and can your recommendations match the relevance of your role, how can you ensure credibility in what you’re conveying?

2. Pathos: is making an emotional connection - the reason people believe that what you’re saying will matter to them. Demonstrated by giving people your undivided attention, taking an active interest in your team members’ career development, and being enthusiastic about the organisation progress and the individuals who enable it.

The concept that comes to mind is presence, the ability to hold both your own attention and focus on a situation and simultaneously hold the space for the experience of others. As a leader, it is your responsibility to manage the energy of your team with intention, and this comes through making an emotional connection with the people. This often requires getting your own judgments or opinions out of the way and addressing what is best for the whole. Techniques that build intimacy, interactivity, inclusion and intentionality will be discussed in a later post to aid this.

3. Logos; is Latin for logic – this is your mode for appealing to others’ sense of reason. Employing strengths in strategic thinking, problem solving, and analytical skills. Plus, being able to express logical ideas in clear and compelling enough terms to influence outcomes. A caveat, assembling facts is not the same as presenting them clearly!

This can often depend on your style of communication, as we all absorb information differently – from visual, oral and kinesthetic approaches. As a quick and simple test with Clients, I ask how they would build a piece of Ikea furniture. Do you read the manual from front to back using the diagrams as your guide (visual) or would you potentially enlist the help of someone else to talk you through the steps (oral) or can you look at the picture of the final piece and just crack into building it through the experience of assembling (kinesthetic). We often have a preference for one, or a combination of two. This can help you when deciphering how to best translate information to your team, or ensure all-staff presentations and workshops are engaging for all, so everyone can interpret and learn to their style and also be pushed a little out of their comfort zone to learn differently too.

Another quick reference to articulate your point of view, is to look at these two axis:

Extent to which you communicate with emotions or with data. For example, would you say ‘I feel like we’re off to a good start this quarter’ (emotions) or would you say ‘this quarter sales are up by 7.2%’ (data). Try to cover off what is appropriate for the audience.

Extent to which you communicate in a linear or free-form way. For example, do you start with A, B, C all the way to Z in a logical sequence, or would you start with the problem, and skip over most of the details and jump to a solution at Z. This can be really enlightening for people – some love detail and others just need the bare bones and solution (you can often see eyes glaze over when you start ‘rambling’!)

Experiment a little…

Do a mental checklist for yourself on whether your communication possesses these three qualities, when one may be more useful than the other and how you can integrate into your conversations.

Awareness of these three areas will make your conversations valuable, relationships better, and way of doing business more effective.

Leigh runs her coaching and consulting practice be. (from Melbourne). Her sweet spot is calibrating people, teams and cultures for high performance that lasts. Contact her here for more info on how you or your organisation can ‘be the change you wish to see’.