4.Soften Them Up CHARACTER, LOGIC, EMOTION The strangely triumphant art of agreeability Audi partem alteram. Hear the other side. — Saint Augustine At the age of seven, my son, George, insisted on wearing shorts to school in the middle of winter. We live in icy New Hampshire, where playground snow has all the fluffy goodness of ground glass. My wife launched the argument in the classic family manner: “You talk to him,” she said. So I talked to him. Being a student of rhetoric, I employed Aristotle’s three most powerful tools of persuasion: Argument by character Argument by logic Argument by emotion In this chapter you will see how each of these tools works, and you’ll gain some techniques—the persuasive use of decorum, argument jujitsu, tactical sympathy—that will put you well on the way to becoming an argument adept. The first thing I used on George was argument by character: I gave him my stern father act. Me: You have to wear pants, and that’s final. George: Why? Me: Because I told you to, that’s why. But he just looked at me with tears in his eyes. Next, I tried reasoning with him, using argument by logic. Me: Pants will keep your legs from chapping. You’ll feel a lot better. George: But I want to wear shorts. So I resorted to manipulating his emotions. Following Cicero, who claimed that humor was one of the most persuasive of all rhetorical passions, I hiked up my pant legs and pranced around. Me: Doh-de-doh, look at me, here I go off to work wearing shorts . . . Don’t I look stupid? George: Yes. （Continues to pull shorts on.） Me: So why do you insist on wearing shorts yourself ? George: Because I don’t look stupid. And they’re my legs. I don’t mind if they get chaffed. Me: Chapped. Superior vocabulary and all, I seemed to be losing my case. Besides, George was making his first genuine attempt to argue instead of cry. So I decided to let him win this one. Me: All right. You can wear shorts in school if your mother and I can clear it with the authorities. But you have to put your snow pants on when you go outside. Deal? George: Deal. He happily fetched his snow pants, and I called the school. A few weeks later the principal declared George’s birthday Shorts Day; she even showed up in culottes herself. It was mid-February. Was that a good idea? For the sake of argument, and agreement, I believe it was.