The Lesser Known Appeal

At this point we’ve all heard of Aristotle’s four appeals. There’s Logos, which deals with logic and reasons, Pathos, the appeal to emotion, and Ethos, which relies on the credibility of oneself and others. But wait, that leaves on more, right? What is it? Give me a moment… It’ll come to me in time…

Oh yeah. That’s right. It’s Kairos!

In English: Timing.

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The ancient Greeks had two words for time. The first was chronos, which deals with the kind of sequential, quantitative time we are all being shoved through. The second was kairos, the qualitative¬† contextual sort of time that rhetoric is built on. See, of Aristotle’s appeals, kairos is easily the most important. If you are a master logician but spew facts at a funeral, you won’t make much headway with your audience. If you are the most emotional speaker to ever walk the face of the Earth but your crowd hungers for facts to back your claims, you might find yourself stuck in a rut. Even comedy relies heavily on timing, with many famous comedians citing that the delivery and timing of content is just as, if not more, important than the content itself. You have to know when to deliver your appeals, your presentations, your resumes even, to ensure that you presenting the best possible argument for yourself. Timing is to rhetoric as nutrition is to food; though they are less readily apparent, both timing and nutrition determine whether you’re going to feel bad about yourself later.

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Timing can make or break you. Bad timing can ruin even the most amazing presentation. We’ve talked a lot this week about how to succeed with that new internship and how to get to that next step. Timing is key in this area too, so here’s a few tips to improve your own timing.

NEVER. BE. LATE. As my Scoutmaster always loved to say, “early is on time, on time is late, late is unacceptable.” Being late is a huge turn off, whether it’s to your interview or your daily grind. You could have every other piece of the process perfect, but don’t be surprised when someone rejects you simply because you were late.

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But also don’t be too early. Excessive earliness can translate to desperation. It can also tell the person you are trying to impress that you have no other projects, obligations, or concerns, which can make you seem lazy and unmotivated.

Don’t rush it. People can tell when you are rushing an interaction with them. If you are in a rush, evaluate whether or not this interaction is truly now or never. Could you get a greater effect at a different time? Is this or your other obligation more important? Is the situation now or never, or is a now going to ensure a never? Remember that your time is precious, but the time of the person you are trying to impress is even more so.

If you’re in the right place, find the right time. You’re at that networking event or the internship and you see an opportunity arise. Always ask yourself if now is the best time. If that person is drowning in a sea of people or seems put off by something else, be patient. You don’t want to get lost in a sea of faces and names, or get rejected by someone having a bad time. It’s amazing what a few moments can do. Find a time that will maximize your impact and memorability.

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But don’t wait too long! Remember that all things in life are time-sensitive. Don’t be timid and let the opportunity slip, and certainly don’t wait for things to happen to you. Make your own good fortune by reading and understanding the situation.

To tie it all together, remember that patience and situational awareness are key.

For example, some of our regular readers may have noticed that this particular post came after noon today. Why is that? Well, to quote a very famous Mr. Gray:

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Timing is everything. The best gift you can give someone is your time. Make sure that it’s a good one.

-Lane, Austin, and Allen

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13 thoughts on “The Lesser Known Appeal

  1. I have heard of the Kairos appeal only once before but never really in depth. I totally agree with what y’all are saying though. For a meeting or interview or practice, I would get there a solid 15 min in advance just so I could take my time and because it reflects well on my character. Any time I have group projects and someone gets there late, it drives me bananas.

  2. I am the worst at arriving late to events so I found this article very useful. I remember learning the other three appeals in Communication 105 so learning the fourth was eye-opening. Timing is important in any situation. I hope to use this knowledge to arrive on time and plan accordingly.

  3. According to this post, timing is very tricky. It is a small portion of a situation but it also determines the whole situation. Therefore, I have always thought timing is similar to a threshold. If we can’t arrive on time, there is any opportunity for us. In other words, it is not until we pass a gateway called timing that we can try something. However, it is very fortunate for us to be able to control the timing. We can make a decision to enter the door willingly or just to look at the closed door.

  4. I completely agree with the fact that timing is everything. I like how you started this blog by introducing the three appeals and offering the fact that there’s a fourth one. This motivated me to keep reading because never have I been introduced to that concept. Since I was little, my dad was always late picking me up whether it was from school or sports practices. I can definitely relate to how important timing is no matter what context it’s in!

  5. According to this post, timing is very tricky. It is a small portion of a situation, but also determines the whole situation. Therefore, I have always thought that it is like a threshold. If we don’t reach a point, there is any opportunity for us. In other words, it is not until we pass a gateway called timing that we can try something. However, it is fortunate for us to be able to make a decision to enter the gateway or just to look at the closed door.

  6. According to this post, timing is very tricky. It is a small portion of a situation, but also determines the whole situation. Therefore, I have always thought that it is like a threshold. If we don’t reach a certain point, there isn’t any opportunity for us. In other words, it is not until we pass a gateway called timing that we can try something. However, it is fortunate for us to be able to make a decision to enter the gateway or just to look at the closed door.

  7. This is super useful. I’ve never heard of kairos before and I’ve especially never heard of it being one of Aristotle’s four appeals, but I would have to agree that it would be the most useful. It puts the rest of them into perspective. The other three appeals are dependent upon kairos for success. I’ve also never heard the statement “don’t be too early.” As someone who is anal about being on time for everything, being early is my best friend. I’ve never thought of being too early as a negative thing but the way y’all said it, it makes a lot of logical sense. Very useful post, provided insight that I definitely needed to hear.

  8. According to this post, timing is very tricky. It seems to account for a small portion of a situation, but determines the whole situation. Therefore, I have always thought that it is like a threshold. If we don’t reach a point, there isn’t any opportunity for us. In other words, it is not until we pass a gateway called timing that we can try something. However, it is fortunate for us to be able to make a decision to enter the gateway or just to look at the closed door vacantly.

  9. As someone who hates when other people are late, I really appreciated this post. I’ve never really looked closely into Kairos, so I’m glad you posted about it. I find myself guilty of being early and rushing it so it was eye opening to see how this is perceived. Timing is a really tricky thing and this post definitely solidified that for me.

  10. I love this post. Timing really is EVERYTHING. Many time, we don’t realize how much of an affect it can have on a situation. Arriving late to an interview can make the employers decision about hiring you before he even meets you, while catching your boss in a good mood to discuss your promotion can determine your future. If we payed more attention to timing, we’d probably all be a little better off.

  11. While I was not comfortable in my knowledge of what kairos meant before reading this post, I definitely feel more confident in my understanding of the concept. The part of the post that stood out to me the most was the analogy “Timing is to rhetoric as nutrition is to food;” from this quote, I came to the conclusion that like food is pointless without nutrition, the other three appeals are pointless without kairos (timing)!

  12. I thought this was very relevant to me right now, as we are currently learning about all the appeals in my COM 105 class, and also very interesting. I think all the other appeals are very effective when used properly but I can always think of a time where you just couldn’t get your message across. Often times even if you construct and effective argument, if the timing is of, then the whole thing falls apart.

  13. Great post! The idea of kairos is relevant to not only personal endeavors but also to advertisers and brands that are looking to stay relevant. This element is important when considering creative strategies and creative execution. For example, T-Mobile had a great idea when they decided to feature Steve Harvey in their Super Bowl commercial and make fun of the mishap at the Miss Universe Pageant in December of 2015. However, by the time the ad aired almost two months after the actual incident, the memes and pop culture connection had somewhat faded. They should have considered kairos when deciding to reference the Miss Universe incident.

    -Caroline

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