How do we communicate so people are motivated?

By David Phillips


Finishing up this short series on rhetoric, persuasion, and leadership, I want to help us rethink and reframe persuasion. After dealing with the question of logic or emotion, now we come to how I think we should look at how to influence and lead others, regardless of the organization you lead.

Utilizing Aristotle’s appeals, neuroscience’s research, Duarte’s common structure, and Kouzes and Posner’s leadership characteristics, a way to integrate all these for effective persuasion can be developed. Why? A big part of a business leader’s responsibilities is to motivate people to achieve certain goals. To do that, the leader has to engage the person’s emotions (Fryer).

Traditional rhetoric, giving statistics and facts and quotes from authorities has two problems, according to screenwriter, professor, and consultant Robert McKee. First, the people spoken to will have their own set of authorities, statistics, and experiences. While the communicator is trying to persuade them, those people are arguing back in their heads. Second, if the leader does succeed in persuading them, they have done so only on an intellectual basis. That’s not good enough, because people are not inspired to act by reason alone (Fryer, para. 5).

McKee continues, stating that a second “way to persuade people—and ultimately a much more powerful way—is by uniting an idea with an emotion. The best way to do that is by telling a compelling story” (Fryer, para. 6). This connects with Duarte’s back and forth resonance concept because leaders not only have to understand their companies’ past, but then they must construct a “what will be if we do this” future.

It might be expressed in the following manner. Each of Aristotle’s appeals have equal weight. One does not have prominence over the other and effective rhetoric not only uses all three appeals …read more

Read more here: Systems Thinking


David has been a systems thinker most of his life. He has started three businesses as well as designed and developed systems and processes in existing organizations. He has a Doctorate in Leadership and has also done additional post-graduate work in communications.

He has also pastored 3 churches and loves to think about, write about and podcast about scripture, theology, and leadership.

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