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.


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.


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.


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.


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:


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