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Get Your Team Onboard with Ancient Persuasion Techniques

Mankind needed to get things done long before anyone ever came up with the concept of project management. But in order to get people to cooperate, they had to persuade their peers to accept their point of view, and work together towards a common goal.

Remember Aristotle? That old guy from your philosophy 101 class. Well during his time, in Ancient Greece, rhetoric, the art of persuasion, was all the rage. It is from Aristotle’s studies in rhetoric where we get  three excellent persuasion techniques. Why not take a laurel leaf from his book and try these communication tips to  help you get your team onboard with your ideas.


Ethos is Greek for “character”. In this technique you are relying on your own authority as a project manager to convince other people. But this is highly dependent on what kind of leader you are, and how you express your ideas. If you′re not a popular or respected leader, you may have a much harder time getting people onboard. Pulling rank may not always work in your favor.

Sometimes, if your reputation is good enough, you may not even have to be a project manager to lead your team. You can lead based on the strength of your character and personality alone. Treat your peers and subordinates with respect, and they are much more likely to listen to you when needed. Establishing credibility is the key to persuading with ethos.


This word means “reason”, and in this technique, that′s exactly what you′re doing. You have to appeal to your team′s sense of reason by giving them logical points to consider.

Present your points in an organized fashion, so that everyone can easily follow and understand. Don′t go all intellectual on them and try to impress with complex concepts or words, because that will have the opposite effect. It will alienate them and make them harder to convince. Instead, make sure everyone can easily latch on to your point of view and understand why your idea is the one that makes the most sense. Use facts and common sense when persuading with logos.


Pathos is an appeal to emotion. Every person has a different motivation for working: it could be professional pride, camaraderie, ambition, or anything else. As a leader, your job is to learn each of your team′s quirks and drives. What do they find important? What motivates them to do one thing as opposed to another? Understand your team′s motivation, both as individuals and as a group, and tailor your arguments to appeal to these emotions.

You must also consider the current situation and any effect it is having on your team. High stress situations can cause people to act irrationally, which may cause problems as you try to steer people towards the right course of action. On the other hand, times of crisis are often when people are most receptive to radical ideas. Just make sure you′re calm and thinking clearly before you ask people to do anything drastic.  Incorporate  humor, empathy and a personal touch to your interactions to get your team on your side with pathos.

While each of the above solutions can be effective on their own,  it′s often best to employ a combination of all three.

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