The English word empathy comes from the Greek word pathos. Pathos appeals directly to the emotions of the Audience. Emotional appeals are different from appeals to logos or ethos because the emotions already exist. The Speaker does not introduce them to the argument, she must elicit them from within the stakeholder Audience.

To appeal to pathos, a Speaker might create vivid metaphors or employ imagery or detailed description to transport the stakeholders to a certain scene. The Speaker can craft a narrative and walk the stakeholder Audience through the events of the story, allowing them to live each moment. In terms of language, a Speaker may employ emotive diction or tone or rely on the connotation of her words to emotionally convey more than is being said.

Let’s not forget that the little emotions are the great captains of our lives, and we obey them without realizing it.

Vincent Van Gogh

Emotional appeals are crucial to answering two main questions for the Audience: “Why do I care?” and “What should I do about it?” In oil and gas operations, landowners may invoke public health as an argument of pathos against further operations. Operators may invoke job creation as the reason for their expansion. However, appealing to pathos alone will not win over a reasoned and critical Audience. The best communications combine logos, ethos, and pathos.

Images: “Peace Monument in Washington, DC” by Jamieadams99 licensed under CC BY SA 3.0