Chapter 3 Rhetoric And Communication Asking For Directions

Student Writers

Max A., Antonio P. and Edward P.



Rhetoric is the art and study of the use of language with persuasive effect. While rhetoric is not a commonly used word when referring to the way in which per persuade people, it is a staple of our verbal diet. We use rhetoric every day when we want something. Rhetoric is as simple as persuading your friend to lend you a buck or as complex as winning a presidential election.

While we can define rhetoric as the art and study of the use of language with persuasive effect, we are really understating the vastness of the field of study that is rhetoric. Rhetoric is not only an incredibly vast and complex field, but also a constantly evolving field. It can be quite difficult to define rhetoric; however, we hope to convey some understanding of what the subject contains.


Rhetoric is ancient. The written record of it is as old as 2285 BC. Throughout history, rhetoric has played an important part in decisions and people persuasion. As examples of such we can look back in time to famous intellectuals such as Confucius, the heroes of the Iliad, and the orators of ancient Greece, men such as Plato and Aristotle.


When implementing rhetoric into technical communication the audience you're attempting to persuade can range from a single individual to hundreds or thousands of listeners or readers. The term audience applies to any person who is witness to the logical, emotional, or ethical arguments made by another individual. By carefully explaining the extent of rhetoric's principles whether it be rhetorical appeal (logos, pathos, ethos), or one of the five canons prose becomes clearer, and more inventive. A successful education in rhetoric nurtures creative persuasion and facilitates the progression of cohesive writing. Rhetoric enables us to adapt to our surroundings for the sake of our prose, and our readers comprehension. The first step in applying rhetorical knowledge to an ambiguous or defined audience is to understand the readers and classifying them.

Addressing the Audience

It is your job when creating a coherent document to analyze your audience, their background, needs, and special preferences. Of course, these vary culturally, but we'll get to that later. A few questions you may begin asking could include, "Who is the main audience for this document? Who is likely to read it? What is my relationship with this audience? What information do they need? How technically proficient are my readers? Do they have varying levels of expertise?" (Lannon 18). Of course, identifying your readers can be difficult at first. There are primary readers (action takers), secondary readers (advisors), tertiary readers (evaluators), and gatekeepers (supervisors) all with separate agendas attributing to the form your writing will begin to take.

In today's technical workplace reader groups take on new form, and react with each other quite differently. There are subject matter experts (SMEs) who have an advanced knowledge of a product or topic, technicians who're responsible for operating, building, or repairing a product or device, executives who control the business aspects of an operation, and the layperson, or everyday user. It's a delicate ecosystem that relies on clear and precise documentation. Executives want a defined business plan and the bottom line instead of every excruciating technical detail the experts and technicians have to offer. Like the everyday user who wants their product without knowing every detail about its production,

Persuading the Audience

Primary readers are whom you have in your mind before you begin writing. They may be widely varied in background, but essentially, they are all reading your document in order to accomplish something, or to conclude. Secondary readers include those people who your primary readers will turn to when they seek additional information. Your writing may limit the need for varied secondary readers with a concise thesis, but oftentimes this is not the case. Tertiary readers include "evaluators of you, your writing team, or your company" (Johnson-Sheehan 42) and can come in the form of lawyers, accountants, reporters, activists, or your competition. Additionally, gatekeepers are those who view your document before it reaches potential primary readers, such as a supervisor, editor, or professor. Once the audience is compartmentalized, you can begin applying rhetoric principles accordingly. The Five Canons of Rhetoric which first appear in Cicero's Latin text, Rhetorica ad Herennium provide a strategic approach to follow (Jacobus 147).


Invention is the source of all persuasion. In any line of professional communication there is a necessity to persuade a target, but effective persuasion identifies the target's needs, goals, and interests. Invention requires you dig up dirt on your target, while working out out how the evidence you've found should be presented. This is where ethos, pathos, and logos (found below) should be addressed, since picking the right atmosphere, and time for persuasion can be a delicate process.


Arranging an argument to fully utilize persuasion is a lot like configuring the format of an essay. First comes an introduction which positions your topic, or maybe even yourself. The intro is where you set up the context of an argument, while providing background information that will grab your audience's attention, making them feel invested in what you're talking about. Secondly, the basic facts of the argument must be accepted as more than just personal observations. During the statement of fact it's important to remain neutral, and ethical when presenting the argument to a newly acquired bystander. After statement of fact, the next stage is confirmation which relies heavily on various types of reasoning and rhetoric ability. It's here that you'll try to create an unassailable position, while aligning it with the needs, goals, and values of the audience involved. The fourth step is refutation which involves constructively criticizing other arguments in order to better affirm the position of your own to the audience. The last part of arrangement is the conclusion, or peroratio, which should be an extended summary reminding the audience of your key points. The conclusion shouldn't address new ideas or rock the foundation, it should pull your arrangement tight together.


Style is vital to the success of argument not only because it makes the best use out of our wordy language, but also because it appeals to the aesthetic. Speaking with style heightens your credibility if you can appeal to the emotions of the audience. Eloquent language uses subtle rhyme, alliteration, and other devices to delicately present an argument. Powerful language alternatively seeks to stimulate emotions through a few strong words, and brash imagery. If both styles are used in orderly succession, you will pull on the heart strings of the audience and they should come to a quick decision (Williams 67-75).


It's said that the secret of speaking is in the rehearsal. When persuading, it's necessary to remember enough of your argument to be able to fully present important sections of your document without hesitation, or looking to a cue-card. Many have trouble with memorization, although there are plenty of alternate methods out there. Even the best orator spends time practicing, because if you wish to "spellbind your audience, you must fully learn the spell" ( 3). When presenting an argument you shouldn't have to think about what to say. Instead your spare cognitive effort should be used to shape your argument for the situation, ensuring that you can respond to the audience in perfect pitch and tune.


A truly magnificent persuasive argument requires the writer to transcend words. Effective communication requires every means at the writer's disposal, which may include body language, voice tone, or texture ( 5). The writer should utilize emphasis and body language in drawing attention to key details. Delivery will always vary depending on your environment, but in the technical workplace it's especially important to put some emotion into your voice. You could also use props, or some other device to divert the audience long enough for you to establish your argument.


Ethos is a term coined by the ancient Greeks. It defines a component of argument. Specifically this component entails the ‘ethical’ argument. This extends to mean the amount in which a person believes in the truth of the speaker, or in the value of the speaker’s words.
While there may be some small ethical, argument made here, the ethical argument turns into an argument of credibility. Credibility could be a logical appeal because a person must be credible to be believable. Credibility could also be an emotional appeal because people often want to believe a person because of emotions. Both of these approaches are wrong. Credibility is an ethical argument because an ethical issue is justified by some moral truth. The moral truth we have here is that a person needs be believable if they are to be trusted. This we establish credibility through an ethical argument.


Pathos, another term of the Greeks refers to the component of argument that covers the emotional appeal of the argument. Pathos covers any way in which emotions determine the outcome of a person’s argument.
In relation to this project, the emotional appeal is the associated of the audience and the need to have a high quality product that will help with the success of the technological communication student.


Logos is quite simply the logical appeal. A logical appeal is one that appeals to the sense of understanding in a person. Logic is a sense that we have as people which rationalizes a statement as either true or false. If a speaker states a fact, the listener will consider the logical truthiness of the statement using their sense of logos.
Logic applies to this project in that it is a well written and organized manual. The value of this document appeals to the send of logic of the user.


To summarize, the three logical arguments (logos, pathos, and ethos) must be used together in order to persuade the audience. This requires the right arguments to be with each logical segment of rhetoric.



When writing communication for the workplace it helps to stop and ask for directions. This section covers the importance of communication in the workplace. When you are trying to reach a destination, it always helps to know the best way to get there. Communication in the workplace is different from communication at school. You use communication in the workplace is to attain an action. When asking for directions you ask rhetoric for the most efficient way to get there. Rhetoric is useful to communication. Examples include new company policy, persuading workers, or persuading management. In addition, one always needs to consider the reader’s point of view. To obtain our objectives use the three appeals of rhetoric, logos, pathos, and ethos.

Communication Using Rhetoric Appeals

Logos Use logic, reasoning and evidence of the subject you are communicating to the audience. Use facts, tables, charts, and graphs
Pathos Use the audience’s emotions by appealing to their safety in a new procedure, or the money it saves to communicate your point in the communication.
Ethos Use your authority and trustworthiness as the author by discussing your credentials, education, career (you are paid to write technical manuals), and awards received to convince the audience.


Emails in the workplace are to communicate with co-workers, superiors, and clients. A professional email is to be short. It is only to have one question or topic. To display several topics or questions send multiple emails or send an office memo if it is someone inside the organization, or an office letter to an individual outside the organization. In email communication, do not use slang, abbreviations, or contractions. Here is an example of a professional email in response to a long, complicated email.

A Response to a Long, Complicated Email

I received your email and read carefully the list of concerns you raised regarding the project as well as the team. It would probably be best if we could get the team together soon and figure out how to move forward in a productive and positive manner. Could you set up a meeting, with a conference call option for those members who are out of town? My schedule is open the entire week.

Thank you,

Rachel Byerson, senior manager

A Workplace Email

To: ten.tsacmoc|samrudr#ten.tsacmoc|samrudr
Cc: moc.tedmaL|roopakps#moc.tedmaL|roopakps
Subject: Status of your contract
Date: Sat, May 24, 2011 2:25 p.m.

We are very close to completing the paperwork for your contract. We will be ready to send you the formal contract to arrive at your home address in Amherst next Wednesday, May 28.

As you know, we have had to confirm several dates with production, marketing, and the Web group, as these dates affects the turnover-to-production date listed in your contract. We have received confirmations from all departments and have submitted the details for legal to draw up the contract by Tuesday, at which time we will overnight it to you.

We are very much looking forward to working with you! Should you have any questions about the contract or about any other matters at any time, please feel free to get in touch with me or, should I be away from my desk, my assistant, Sanjit Kapoor, whom I have copied on this email.


Harvey C. Keck
Managing Editor
Lambet Publishers, Inc.
Phone: (555)682 – 4493
Fax: (555)682 – 4441



An office memo or memorandum is typically one to two pages. They are for communicating internally in the company and are not for communicating with clients. According to Lannon and Gurak, this is an example of an office memo:
Standard Parts of a Memo

Office Letters

An office letter can be any length. They are for communicating internally instead of memos when the information is more then a page or two. They are to communicate externally with clients. Use office letters when you need to communicate with anyone outside of the company. According to Lannon and Gurak this is an example of an office letter:

Standard parts of a Workplace Letter

To: Name and title
From: Name and title
Date: Date
Subject: ELEMENTS OF USABLE MEMO (or, replace SUBJECT with RE for in
reference to)

Subject Line
Be sure the subject line clearly announces your purposes (RECOMMENDATION FOR SOFTWARE SECURITY UPGRADES) instead of (SOFTWARE SECURITY UPGRADES). Capitalize all major words or use italics or boldface.

Memo Text
Unless you have reason for being indirect, state your main point in the opening paragraph. Provided a context the recipient can recognize. (As you requested in our January meeting, I am forwarding the results of our software security audit.) For recipients unfamiliar with the topic, begin with a brief background paragraph.

When the memo covers multiple subtopics, include headings (as shown here). Headings help you organize and they help readers locate information quickly.

Graphic Highlights
To improve readability you might organize data in a table or in bulleted or numbered lists.

Paragraph and Line Spacing
Do not indent a paragraph’s first line. Single-space within paragraphs and double-space between.

Subsequent Page Header
Be as brief as possible. If you must exceed one page, include a running head on each subsequent page, naming the recipient and date (J. Baxter,6/12/11, page 2)

Copies to:
Name to Receive Copy
Name to Receive Copy



When asking for directions in your communication. Remember to ask rhetoric how to get there. The importance of your communication skills in the workplace may determine if you get the promotion, you want. Rhetoric in communication is how you accomplish your goal. Use logic, reason, evidence, a reader’s emotions, personal beliefs, and an authority voice to persuade your reader. Use the samples of emails, memos, and office letters as a guide and remember that some companies have their own format.

Online Collaboration Tools


Online collaboration tools are an essential part of working in groups. There are different software options to choose. The list of online collaboration tools is too vast to go over them all. The chance is you already use some without being aware. Email, text message, Facebook, and Twitter are a few social online collaboration tools already used by the majority of people. It is important to remember proper communication skills when communicating with coworkers even on the social networks. Here are a few examples of the basic online collaboration tools used.

Drop box

Drop Box is a program that allows you to retrieve any file in the Drop Box folder under the My Documents folder from multiple computers. Any computer may use Drop Box, and you may retrieve a file from the web site. It allows you to share files from work with your home computer by saving it the Drop Box folder or vice versa. You also have the option of sharing the file with coworkers. By creating, a new-shared folder or sharing an existing folder, the folder appears to your coworkers as it appears to you. Any updates or changes appear instantly. The Drop Box servers save their folders, which gives you online backups. Moreover, Drop Box saves a copy of every save made to a file up to 30 days. This allows you to undo any changes made to the file. Drop Box works on Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems. In addition, Drop Box is a free application for iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, and Android mobile cell phone. Drop Box allows 2GB of memory free, and you may upgrade for more memory. The website is

Google Docs

Google Docs allow you to share your work and collaborate online with coworkers. You may use documents, spreadsheets, presentations (PowerPoint), drawings, and forms on Google Docs. To create an account on Google Docs you need an email. To share your files on Google Docs, you need the emails of the people you are sharing. There two steps to implementing Google Docs. One, create a document, spreadsheet, presentation, drawing, or form on your computer and upload it to Google Docs. This method allows every person you shared this file with to view or edit the file. To edit the file, they must download the file and apply the changes then upload the new version. The second method, create a file in Google Docs. Sharing the file requires the emails of the people you are sharing the file. The advantage of creating the file in Google Docs is that everyone may view and edit the file at the same time on separate computers. This allows for a real time collaboration of the file. Simply go to Google’s homepage and under the more button click on Documents.


Wiggio makes working in-group projects easy. Wiggio provides a web address for groups to communicate and collaborate. Wiggio is completely free and has many features you to use. To create a group on Wiggio is simple. You need to name the group, define the group, select which options the members will have access to, and add the email address of the members of the group. Unlike Google Docs, members do not have to register to join the group. The members only have to click on the link in the email sent from Wiggio to join the group. Once the members have joined the group, they will be able to use the features of Wiggio. These features include posting messages, conference calls, chat rooms, mass texts and emails, create events and deadlines on the calendar, create and upload files for the group to collaborate on, and take a poll from the members of the group. It is also possible to have multiple groups collaborating on Wiggio simultaneously. The different groups are color-coded allowing you to keep everything organized. The website is


The online collaboration tools are like your GPS when asking for directions. It just easier to get their when you use one. Chances are most companies will used certain online collaboration tools. Most collaboration software is design to follow the operations. Remember that you can always find tutorials on Playing with the software and watching tutorials on the software is a great way to learn quickly the main functions of the collaboration software. Always remember to practice proper communication skills when communicating with anyone professionally.