How often did you hand a task out to somebody and it just didn’t get done? You’re sure the instructions were clear and the time frame was agreed. But, in the end it just didn’t happen. You’re left frustrated and annoyed at the other person letting you down. Then, of course, you begin to question yourself. “Why don’t people always listen to me?” “What is it about me?” “What am I doing wrong?”


The real answer may be different to what you think. People often focus on the task at hand, what’s needed, when it’s needed and to what standard it’s needed. That’s all important information, for sure. But I would argue, rather than focusing just on the task, spend more time thinking about how you deliver the task request to that person.

Nearly 2,500 years ago Aristotle talked about rhetoric, the art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing. He observed, correctly, how people influence others through the use of three different language tools – ethos, pathos and logos. We’ll examine what he meant by Pathos in the context of getting tasks done.

Aristotle defined pathos in terms of a public speaker putting the audience in the right frame of mind by appealing to the audience's emotions. He further defined emotion as states of mind involving a range of feelings, which in turn influence perception and action. I call this the ability to create emotional connection.

How do you get people emotionally connected to a task?

Imagine a cleaner who works in a hotel. The role might be thought of as junior, even menial. A mistake that would all but guarantee an average task performance at best!
Instead, imagine the impact on guests and the hotel when the cleaner fulfils their tasks to the highest standard. Happy guests return and hotels secure long term business success. That is very definitely in part, because of that one cleaner!

We want to connect people to the value of their work. The skill is to plan your language carefully to include ‘the bigger picture’. It’s not overselling the value of the task, but acknowledging the importance of it. This is so often missed!

Rhetoric, is an almost forgotten skill. Try it. Next time you’re planning to give a task out to someone practice using emotional connection. It’s been working for the last 2,500 years!