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Ethos, Pathos, Logos:
The three pillars of persuasive communication

Customer Experience Management:
The value is in the eye of the beholder

Ethos, Pathos, Logos: The three pillars of persuasive communication

Ethos, Pathos, and Logos are referred to as the 3 Persuasive Appeals (Aristotle coined the terms) and are all represented by Greek words. They are modes of persuasion used to convince audiences.


Ethos, or the appeal to ethics, refers to the effort to convince your audience of your credibility or character. Before you can convince an audience to accept anything you say, they have to accept you. Whether you are creating a flier, giving a presentation, applying for a job, or teaching a workshop, people won’t be persuaded by you unless they trust you. When it comes to communication, trust can be built in a number of ways. It is up to you to understand how you need to respond in each situation and adapt accordingly.

Ethos can be promoted by choosing appropriate language & vocabulary (dependent on the audience and topic), by making yourself look honest, by paying attention to your movements and the way you dress (for your digital presence pay attention to design details, functionality, content, etc.) and by documenting on the areas of your expertise. Ethos finally, may be hard to acquire and maintain, sometimes it may take years to build a strong, credible reputation which can be lost in minutes…


Pathos, or the appeal to emotions, refers to the effort to persuade your audience by making an appeal to their feelings. Your audience is more receptive to being persuaded by someone with whom they can identify. Pathos can be used in a variety of ways (to promote positive and negative feelings) as it is the Greek word for referring both to “suffering” and “experience”. When you use pathos to persuade your audience, you need to make them feel an emotion in order to act. Any emotion can cause people to act, (happiness, compassion, nostalgia, anger etc.) even in a ‘small scale’.

Pathos can be promoted by using simple & meaningful language, emotional tone of voice (oral or written), pauses and emotional metaphors or stories. Remember however, most people are aware of when we are trying to touch their emotions and we need to do it cautiously and responsibly. Generally, pathos is most effective when used in the introduction and conclusion. You want to grab readers' attention in the beginning and to leave them with conviction at the end and emotion is a useful tool for those purposes.


Logos, or the appeal to logic, refers to the effort to convince your audience by using logic and reason. Effective arguments should include testimonials, surveys and other supporting details to back up your claims/positions. Logos means to document your point through storytelling, logical arguments, facts, recorded evidence, historical data and literal analogies.

When using logos to persuade, you need to ensure that you have found facts, stories and information that ‘matter’ to your audience and that you will present them in a way that makes sense (to them).

2300 years ago, Aristotle compiled his thoughts on the art of rhetoric into “Rhetoric”. Many people consider it to be the most important work to have influenced communication and it is as relevant today as it was in ancient Greece.

In a sentence, to be an effective persuader, you need to utilize all three pillars of persuasion: ethos, logos, and pathos. Use ethos in the beginning to set up your creditability and to make you readers/listeners relate to you. Use logos, or logic, to argue and build your points. Finish up with pathos, or the emotional appeal as people will act based on their emotions, and that is, after all, your ultimate goal.


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