Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Debates

If you have taken any classes thorough Pathfinder, you may remember me saying that this is the season for rhetoric and persuasive speech. As we enter the last 40 days before the election, things will reach a pitch. It will be fun to see what you remember from class. For instance:

· Can you restate the controversies in one to three simple sentences?

· To what issues would the topoi lead us in the various controversies? (example - for a claim of fact, the topoi would suggest the questions "How would we know if it is true?" and " Have those conditions been met?")

· Are the candidates meeting their burden (Burden of Proof, Burden of Supporting Assertions, Burden of Rejoinder)

· What kinds of claims are being made? (Fact, Definition, Quality, or Policy)

· What kinds of evidence are used? (Objective evidence, Credibility, or Social Consensus)

· What inferences are being drawn? (Example, Cause, Sign, Analogy, Narrative, or Form)

· Do they see value in having strong relationships, or do they believe that relationships get in the way of good communication?

· When they speak in the past tense, is it usually for blame? Present tense for values or duty? Future tense for choices?

Even though these debates will be about advocating positions instead of collaborating, see if you can tell which of the candidates are more likely to collaborate once elected. You can judge this by trying to detect which one tends to project that they have all of the answers, and which tends to project that they would likely draw opinions from other sources in order to arrive at the best possible decision.

NOTE – this forum is not a political forum and Pathfinder won’t endorse either candidate. The purpose of this article is to point out that the candidates debates and speeches use the same rules as business speech and can be helpful in illustrating concepts that you have learned in our classes or at my speaking engagements. Feel free to leave some comments.


Bill Casey said...


Re: "The Debates" - What a wake-up call for someone who has not taken any of your classes nor attended any of your speaking engagements!

I have been fortunate to have been an honorary member of your Pathfinder team for some time,and even though distance has kept me from participating in any hands-on exercises, I can say that from just reading all of your High Performance Communication E-newsletters I have gained over time a tremendous insight into how to quickly discover practically anyone's position on practically any topic (even if only intuitively) and how to best optimize my response for a positive result.

Your "The Debates" essay brought all of what I had read earlier together, and I thank you for writing it. This latest essay has served as a sage reminder to me to be sure to watch closely and to listen carefully, and for that I can not thank you enough.

Best wishes,
Bill Casey

Gregg Oliver said...

I am delighted that the newsletter is doing it's job. I have what I hope is more good news.
There has been a great deal of interest from all over regarding Pathfinder classes. I am not ready to make an announcement yet, but I do want it known that it is my plan to provide online classes (both live and recorded) before the end of the year. This means that students can take ~1 hour classes either as a live webinar (Live Q&A and group exercises) at a scheduled time OR view recordings of classes at ANY time they like. Additionally I am expanding the curriculum to add topics like persuasion and negotiation to the three main topics of influence, critical discussion, and relationships.
This will be a lot of work, but this has been a request from students since day one. It took a lot to persuade me, but you did.