Logic and Emotion
Peers expect you to build logical business cases, of course. Just don’t expect logical arguments to win people over to your way of thinking. Even in large corporations that focus on very logical approaches to strategy, culture, and analysis of data, change happens because the leaders find a way to help people see problems or solutions in ways that influence their emotions––not just their reasoning.
Research overwhelmingly confirms that people base buying decisions on emotion, and then support them with logic. Or to put it as eloquently as poet Richard Bach did: “Compelling reason will never convince blinding emotion.”
“Compelling reason will never convince blinding emotion.” -Richard Bach
Obviously, an emotional appeal may be misused to manipulate others. In such situations, the very fabric of influence becomes flawed. But used with wisdom and integrity, emotional appeals can have tremendous power to sway people to change for the better. Here’s how:
Speak to the Heart
People often cannot hear logical reasons for change until they work through emotional issues surrounding that change. In What More Can I Say?: Why Communication Fails and What to Do About It, I elaborate further on these emotional issues surrounding a logical need for change:
- the message itself
- the way the message is phrased
- the character and personality of the leader
- the listener’s interactions with the leader
- the actual setting (physical, emotional, timing)
Analogies, illustrations, and metaphors matter a great deal in your phrasing. Body language communicates caring, confidence, competence—or incompetence. Where and how you deliver the message determines if it hits a receptive or raw nerve.
Whether you’re talking about change, political campaigns, or charity, when you want to move people to action, speak to evoke emotion—to inspire, to call out their best, to appeal to a cause, to stand united. To see how well emotional appeals work, look no further than the streets during a crisis.
Calm the Emotional Reaction of Fear
“That’s too hard.” “I can’t master this job.” “I can’t change that habit.”