What Aristotle Can Teach Us about Persuasion

When you think of Aristotle, you may think of some brilliant old philosopher whose advice couldn’t possibly be useful in the modern age. But nothing could be further from the truth!

In fact, Aristotle is full of fascinating insights into what, exactly, creates the ability to be persuaded – things that affect us even today.

He described the three facets of persuasion as “Ethos”, “Pathos” and “Logos”:

  • The speaker’s character (Ethos)
  • The emotions stirred by the speaker (Pathos)
  • The speech itself (Logos)

But what exactly does that mean?  Let’s take a closer look.


Let’s say you’re an incredibly wealthy individual in the market for a new sports car. The first salesman is a suave, slick-looking guy and you can tell from looking at him that he has sold millions of dollars worth of cars.

He slides up to you and latches onto your gaze immediately.  He spouts off all the reasons why you need to own this car. It’s powerful. It’s sophisticated. It’s rugged. It’s a sports car for a serious consumer.

He goes through his pitch effortlessly, as if he has it memorized. He certainly has the hustle – but not the subtlety.

The second guy seems smart. He’s not as in-your-face as the first, but more reserved. He stands back and lets you take your time. He glides from the manufacturer’s specs to what they actually mean.

The sheer power of this machine is sure to be the envy of everyone who sees it. You’ll look 20 years younger driving this beast. People won’t be able to take their eyes off of it – or you.

Who do you buy from?  The second guy – of course!  His character was more trustworthy, more credible and more worthy of your attention. He wasn’t interested in the hard sell but more interested in getting you a car that did what you subconsciously wanted – to look stylish, sexy and in control.

Stirring Emotions

Whether you’re speaking or writing, you can’t do it without truly “feeling” what you’re saying. Let that passion or excitement or compelling behavior show through in the words you choose.  Above all – watch and learn.

Watch and model (but don’t copy) great speakers, look at how their body language reflects how they feel, and how their feelings are evoked through their words.

Be a constant observer and develop your own style.

The Speech

Aristotle believed that the words we used were equally persuasive. Rather than sharing a statement, give your readers a story that will make them sit up, take notice and devote all their attention to what you have to say.

In the analogy with the fellow selling the sports car, be the kind of person who persuades others by using power words like adverbs and adjectives to add depth and meaning to your content.

By following Aristotle advice, you’ll be able to draw on thousands of years of smart persuasion that have been used to pass laws, wage wars and rebuild empires.

I would love to hear your though on Aristotle persuasion principal.


AlexWhat Aristotle Can Teach Us about Persuasion

Comments 28

  1. Raymond Frederick

    I like your comparison with the sales men. If I was on that situation, I would definitely buy it from the 2nd one. You nailed it Alex. Awesome post.

  2. Charlie

    Persuasion is one skill that we should learn and be good at. It’s like one important key to succeed in any career path that we take, especially in business.

    Thanks for the video

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  3. Kathryn Bridges

    Well explained. I LOVE your video. It’s some sort of refresher for me because I have come across this principle a long time ago.

    And YES, this is what smart persuasion is. As usual, you are awesome Alex Safie.

  4. Billy Lane

    I know a lot of people who are really good examples of this. The ability to use the power of words to move people your way is just so amazing.

    No wonder these individuals are banking a lot of money.

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  5. Pete

    I really like the topic and content. It’s SO easy to fall into the bad habit of selling on Features instead of Benefits to the buyer.

    I’m really glad you put the text underneath the video. I always appreciate when people who offer videos do this because I can read faster than people talk in videos – and it’s understandable they talk at a moderate pace so everyone can understand – but also I think for me I remember the info better when I’ve read it rather than just heard it.

    So good on both fronts, look forward to seeing more!

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  6. Dita From Blogging Spree

    Hi Alex.

    The masters are masters because they are immortal. Their teaching can be applied to any age.

    I really enjoyed your video and the post below. I am glad you included a written section below the video.

    Like Pete, I too find a great value of having both.

    I am looking forward to your new videos.



  7. Michael

    You got this one right!

    Having been in sales for a long, long time… the engagement of emotion is, perhaps, the most powerful engagement you can achieve with your audience. It’s the internal voice that you’re directly talking to. The brain will come to agreement with emotion every single time.

    There is a saying by one of the people that I follow closely…

    “People love to buy, but they hate to be sold”.

    No truer words were ever spoken.

    Buying satisfies emotional desires! It’s emotion that drives us.

    Being Sold only satisfies logical reason. Logic only rationalizes emotion.

    I’d like to also congratulate you on a really good video. Looks like you and I also follow one of the same people. You did a great job engaging multiple senses with it, and both your words and backgrounds were powerful!

    Keep up the good work!


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      Alex Safie

      Thank you Mike

      And yes… the statement “People love to buy, but they hate to be sold” should be tattooed in the brain of every one that’s involved in marketing.

  8. Jeff B.

    As discussed above your voiceover underscores the written word and it has a lot of impact. Even when I discover a Youtube video tutorial on a subject I am interested in, if there’s no voice over, I turn it off. Even worse is when the choice of music is loud and distracting. You did a great job! Keep them coming.

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  9. Colin

    Hello Alex

    Thank you for taking the step to video blogging. I found it pertinent and to the point. It just shows that good content spread virally even back and continues to do so.



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      Alex Safie

      Hi Colin

      I think that Video Blogging is the future because most internet users don’t like to read that much any more and it’s easier to watch a short video that provides quality content

  10. Tania Yager

    Hi Alex,

    Persuasion is reinforced when laced with a genuine passion and a belief in what you are selling; it becomes infectious to the person who is on the receiving end and they easily become a convert.

    It’s always a good idea to include text with videos as well as a voice over as lots of people fall into the bracket of being either auditory or visual. People are more appreciative when you address their individual preferences.

    Nice video.

  11. Herschel Lawhorn

    Hi Alex,

    Another great post. Great job on the video. That adds a lot to the post and makes it much more interesting than just reading.

    I keep telling myself that I have to start using video, but I just haven’t done it yet. Maybe soon. Procrastination!

    Herschel Lawhorn

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