The Art Pathos: Emotionally Speaking

          How emotional are your business communications?   We’ve been talking lately about the ancient art of rhetoric and communication, and how the great Greek philosopher Aristotle’s ideas can still help us connect with clients and co-workers today.  Recently, we introduced the idea of pathos: the part of communication which evokes emotion or the imagination.  While logic and ethics are important in customer relations, the pathos, or the way they feel about you and your products and services, is often the deciding factor in customer retention and satisfaction. Pathos creates emotional bonds with employees, team members, and clients, and helps develop strong relationships.

Pathos can be used in a variety of ways, from advertising to recruiting to negotiating.  It can also be used irresponsibly, and we will explore those pitfalls in a future blog.  But for now, let’s look at a few ways you can incorporate emotional appeals in your everyday dealing with clients and customers.

  • Tell a Story.
    • Sharing stories and personal experiences is a great way to connect with your clients. Choose issues that are common to all:  time, money, relationships, or the balance or work and personal time.  Tell short stories—you don’t want to be the long-winded salesperson who causes everyone to duck for cover, but try a little light-hearted entertainment with your business dealings. If you can tell personal interest stories about your products and inventions, do so.
  • Take a Picture.Pathos2
    • A picture is worth a thousand words. Don’t even underestimate the power of an image to evoke emotions and caring.  Use logos and images in your correspondence, put your picture on your business card, use bright colors, or colors identifiable with your company, on correspondence and promotional materials.
  • Tickle Their Funny Bones.
    • Work on your humor. Keep clean jokes and asides in your back pocket, and look for opportunities to use them.  A little bit of humor goes a long way to evoke joy and camaraderie.
  • Take the Blame.
    • Ironically, a mistake can often lead to the strongest kinds of client-provider relations. No body is perfect, so when you make a mistake, don’t try to cover. Instead, humbly admit your mistake, rectify the situation, and move on.  Your customers will appreciate your honesty and even sympathize with your plight.

Challenge:  How can I amplify my emotional connection to my customer base?  How can story, image, humor, or humility strengthen bonds I’m already establishing?

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