The art of persuasion is a skill that that any trial attorney must master and one that is often misunderstood. Sometimes persuasion is confused with “manipulation” by those outside the legal profession. Brian McKeen was recently invited to speak on this subject to Michigan Association of Justice.
Manipulation involves forcing people to do something that is not in their own best interests, sometimes by any means necessary. Persuasion involves getting people to do what is right for their own – and society’s-best interest through logic, reason and/or emotion. Advocates, such as the attorneys at McKeen & Associates, do not manipulate. We persuade.
Aristotle named three elements of persuasion-Ethos, Lagos and Pathos. All three are essential to successfully persuade others to support your position. Ethos refers to the speaker’s character and credibility. It is difficult to persuade someone if they do not trust or respect you. Lagos means logic or reason, such as the use of logical presentation of tangible evidence. Finally, pathos, which means suffering or experience. This refers to appealing to appealing to the emotions of your audience as emotions are powerful motivators.
Ultimately, all persuasion is self-persuasion. It doesn’t matter so much what you say to your listeners, what matters is what they say to themselves about your arguments.