How to get what you want using just your words…

How to get what you want using just your words…

How many times have you wanted something, but didn’t get it? How many times did you do something you didn’t want to do, but had to because you were persuaded in such a way that you just couldn’t refuse? You, my friend wouldn’t have been in these situations had you known about rhetoric.

Introduced by Aristotle, Rhetoric is defined as the art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing.

Rhetoric is both an art and a science. The power of a good rhetoric is decided by the delivery, command of language, diction and expression.

Rhetoric has 3 elements: Deliberative or Symbouletikon <predicts the future>, Forensic or Judicial <Establishes facts or judgements about the past>, and Epideictic or Demonstrative <Makes a proclamation about the present situation>.

Symbouletikon itself can be divided into three parts, which are commonly used in debates and political speeches:

  1. Logos (Logic): Writers can persuade their audience by using logical arguments. by making claims and using factual evidence to support those claims, reasoning, such as if/then statements .

How to spot Logos:

  • See how the author backs up their argument in this text? Do they incorporate facts, statistics, or numbers?
  • Consider how logical the author’s argument is and how realistic the claims are.
  • Does the author consider alternative arguments?
  1. Pathos (Emotion): Writers can convince their audience by evoking emotion or relating to them through emotionally charged stories, word choice, and imagery.

Use of pathos is considered to be the most effective in terms of persuasion. Which is why it’s almost impossible to realise when it’s being done to you. The only thing to be done here is to step back and see if you find that some aspect of the work is particularly appealing to your emotions.

Ethos (Credibility): Writers can change their audience’s mind by demonstrating their own trustworthiness, good will and morality by citing credible sources.

How to spot Ethos:

  • Look at the experiences or claims to authority that qualify this person to assert their expertise.
  • Taking the history, credibility and moral character of the writer/speaker into account is necessary.

A few other methods you can use to spot rhetoric are-

  1. Read Carefully
  2. Annotate the Text
  3. Make notes
  4. Use References
  5. Triple-Check everything you read

Method of delivery:

The delivery method used in Rhetoric varies by the type of text in how it’s presented. Depending on the time, place and context, any or all of these can be used to enhance the quality of rhetoric used.

  • Alphabetic Text (for example, written speech, newspaper editorial, essay, passage out of a novel, poetry)
  • Images (for example, TV commercials, advertisements in magazines or on websites)
  • Sound (for example, radio or TV commercials, a website advertisement, speeches)
  • Multimodal Texts (YouTube videos, performances, digital stories)


Even though Rhetoric can be helpful in multiple situations, it isn’t without its disadvantages-

  • Rhetoric often confuses an audience, especially one that isn’t familiar with Rhetoric.
  • Sometimes, employing rhetoric may signal a lack of preparedness or knowledge in the subject
  • Excess use of rhetoric can hurt a speaker’s credibility as it implies resorting to artfulness over actual substance.
  • In the worst case scenario, rhetoric may even cause offense and create tensions if it isn’t implemented skillfully and subtly.
  • “Rhetoric” nowadays is often viewed as an insult, rather than as a compliment.

How is rhetoric used?

While learning about rhetoric is great, it won’t help you unless you learn how to use it. The different ways rhetoric can be used in presentation are-

  • Didactics: Includes a lesson or some deeper meaning behind the words.
  • Parallelism: When building an argument, parallelism is used to show patterns, making it easier for the human mind to deconstruct the argument.
  • Colloquialisms: Plain, everyday language is much easier to understand than formal language, hence it appeals to people personally.
  • Understatement: Where there are impressive results, understatement often makes them more powerful and is likely to pique interest.
  • Anecdotes: Relying on anecdotes or stories to make a point.
  • Warrant: An assumption that makes the claim seem plausible is called a warrant. These could be beliefs, values, inferences or experiences that the writers/speakers have in common with the audience.

While rhetoric may not have been taught to you, learning about it now will be a new weapon in your arsenal and help you to understand when you’re being manipulated.

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