Monday 5 December 2011

You Talkin' To Me?

Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama
Sam Leith, 2011
(November 2011)

I don't want to seem like a reactionary old bigot, calling for the reinstatement of caning and corporal punishment, but really, they should go back to teaching rhetoric at school. Or at least how to string a couple of coherent thoughts together without coming across as a dick. The technical jargon is all very well (and it is), but I don't know anyone whose life wouldn't be improved by being able to actually appreciate another person's point of view. And then piss all over it, but y'know, appreciate it first.

Because that's what rhetoric is, at heart. Understanding the essential need of tailoring your message to your audience. I've had more shitty customer service jobs than I care to remember, and I'm still wearily disappointed by the number of people who think outright belligerence from the start is the best way to get what they want.

"No sir, despite what you may think, I'm actually under no compulsion to offer you a discount/let you in after last orders/ring an ambulance because you sprained your wrist. Calling me a Nazi is unlikely to make me more sympathetic to your case."

On which note, this book also contains a genuine and relevant comparison between Jennifer Lopez and Hitler.


  1. I've insulted some folks and they didn't realize it and others have thought they were being insulted when I wasn't even talking about them :(

    That never happens when I'm looking at them...they know then...but my ability to articulate myself in a way that is universally understood is never gonna happen. I'd be happy if a majority was getting my messages...that'd be sufficient!

  2. "That never happens when I'm looking at them"

    That's exactly it. I think that 'most of the people most of the time' is the best any of us could hope for. It's just depressing that so many people seem unable to manage it even at a face-to-face level.